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Chapter 3: Revelation

Unique in Oneness

According to the Qur’an, He (Allah), the Absolute Reality and Truth, the Absolute Conscious One of Infinite Nature and Perfection, is the First and the Last, the Apparent and the Hidden, the All-in-All, the Self-existing, Self-sustaining, Unique in Oneness, not as the basis for all realities, but as the Creative Might by Whose agency every finite being exists, subsists and is sustained. What is true of every finite being is true of their total, which is termed as the universe (‘alam) or is sub-divided as worlds (‘alamin). Thus He is the Great (al-‘azim). Nothing is devoid of Him and He is not devoid of anything. This means Absolute Fullness (al-Samad), All-pervading, All-embracing (Bekul-e Shiyin Maheet),1 All-witnessing (ala-Akul-e Shiyin Shahid),2 nearer to everything than the thing itself. At the same time, He is High, Sublime, Transcendent (al-‘Ala) in that every finite being falls short of being co-extensive with Him in His essence or attributes and also incapable of reaching Him, because they all are finite while He is Infinite.

So, as the Immanent, He is everything and being in essence and attributes. But as the Transcendent he is with nothing and no being is with Him in essence or attributes. Everything is His manifestation. Therefore, He is identical and with everything, but nothing is identical with Him, nothing can be His incarnation even the universe as a whole. The Qur’an says, “Surely those who said verily God is Christ or God and Christ are the same became disbelievers” (17:72 – 73),3 i.e. these are those who co-extended Christ with God and identified him with God. Again the Qur’an says, “Verily those who said, God is the third of the three became disbelievers” (5:73). But in 58:7, the Qur’an says,

لَقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلَاثَةٍ ۘ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَٰهٍ إِلَّا إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۚ وَإِنْ لَمْ يَنْتَهُوا عَمَّا يَقُولُونَ لَيَمَسَّنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ {73}

There is no secret conference of three but He is their fourth, nor of five but He is their sixth, more of less than that or more but He is with them wheresoever they may be (but not counted with them).( 58:7)

Hence, nothing can be associated with Him in any sense of the term (association or partnership); His is no partner. There is none comparable to Him (Ch. 57).4 There is nothing like Him.5 Therefore, in spite of His nearness (as Ali says, “I saw nothing but I behold God before, after, with and in the thing.”). He keeps all finites far from being identical or co-existing with Him. Hence, the most appropriate term of reference to Him by any being is He (Hoo), the personal pronoun in the third person, singular of masculine gender, and not I the atman of the Upanishads. One cannot deny the seeker of truth in his process of realization the possibility of his reaching a certain stage, wherein to him all limitations and boundaries of dualistic view of God and non-God, Creator and created, Worshipped and worshipper would banish, but his absolute monistic view, as opposed to the monotheistic view is purely subjective, a momentary state of mind.

Monism and polytheism are two extremes, out of religious bounds, which may meet in certain minds, but like the atheistic materialism, neither tallies with religious thought. Religious thoughts are based on the Absolute Reality of the Infinite One and the objective, yet relative, reality of many. Many in the sense that next to the Absolute Reality, the Absolute One, there are the relative realities of objective value, differing from each other in the degree of reality, oneness and finiteness.

انْظُرْ كَيْفَ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ وَلَلْآخِرَةُ أَكْبَرُ دَرَجَاتٍ وَأَكْبَرُ تَفْضِيلًا {21}

See how we prefer one above another, and verily the hereafter will be greater in degrees and greater in preferment. (17:21).6

The Arc of Descent and Ascent

The higher in degree of reality, the closer it is to the Absolute Real. The realities of lesser degree are the manifestations of the higher ones. Thus, the hierarchy of the realities begins with the highest possible being, which is the immediate manifestation (emanation) of the Absolute and ends with the four dimensional primal matter, lowest and the least of all in the degrees of reality, with which the descending process terminates, and the ascending process of relative realities begins. Thus primal matter itself is the lowest revealed form of relative reality and becomes the ground for the evolutionary process, which forms another hierarchy of relative realities. It begins with matter in its simplest form and ends with man, the most complicated intellectual being of the highest order.

These two arcs of descent and ascent, the devolutionary and evolutionary hierarchies of relative realities, form the complete circle of Absolute Reality. These two arcs perfectly coincide with each other, so far as the stages and degrees are concerned. Every stage or degree in the arc of descent must have its corresponding stage and degree in the arch of ascent, so there could be no gap in either arc.

الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا ۖ مَا تَرَىٰ فِي خَلْقِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ مِنْ تَفَاوُتٍ ۖ فَارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ هَلْ تَرَىٰ مِنْ فُطُورٍ {3}

ثُمَّ ارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ كَرَّتَيْنِ يَنْقَلِبْ إِلَيْكَ الْبَصَرُ خَاسِئًا وَهُوَ حَسِيرٌ {4}

Who created the seven heavens layer above layer? You see not in the creation of the Beneficent (God) any defect or incongruity. Then look you again. See you any gap? Then repeat your gaze again and again. Your gaze shall return unto you, dulled, being wearied. (67:3 – 4)

This is what the laws of radiation and reflection require. The two arcs are governed by the laws of radiation and reflection, or the laws of action and reaction. The arc of descent, the downward hierarchy, is radiation in the process of deflection and refraction, conditioned only with the nature, extent and duration of its immediate source from which it proceeds. It is unaffected by the conditions of the ground to which it reaches, while the arc of ascent is the reflection of the radiation, conditioned with the nature, number, extent and duration of the grounds which receive the radiation. The radiation may be one and of a long duration, but the reflection, with matter or material beings as its ground, may differ greatly from the radiation, in number and duration.

For instance, the soul or self to which one refers as I: “By the soul as it is perfected,”7 is the reflection of what is termed as spirit (ruh), the outcome of God’s creative will and command.8 Spirit is the radiation from God and is one, and has the relative degree of eternity due to its being unconditioned with the ever-becoming nature of the matter on which it works. But the soul is the reflection and result of the active spirit, conditioned by the changing and becoming nature of the material ground. Thus, with the grounds of different natures and qualities the reflection are bound to vary in number, nature, and duration while the active spirit remains the same.

وَمَا أَمْرُنَا إِلَّا وَاحِدَةٌ كَلَمْحٍ بِالْبَصَرِ {50}

And Our command is not but one word “Be” and it becomes, like the twinkling of an eye. (54:50)

أَنْزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَسَالَتْ أَوْدِيَةٌ بِقَدَرِهَا فَاحْتَمَلَ السَّيْلُ زَبَدًا رَابِيًا ۚ وَمِمَّا يُوقِدُونَ عَلَيْهِ فِي النَّارِ ابْتِغَاءَ حِلْيَةٍ أَوْ مَتَاعٍ زَبَدٌ مِثْلُهُ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْحَقَّ وَالْبَاطِلَ ۚ فَأَمَّا الزَّبَدُ فَيَذْهَبُ جُفَاءً ۖ وَأَمَّا مَا يَنْفَعُ النَّاسَ فَيَمْكُثُ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ {17}

He sends down water from the heavens, then the valleys flow according to their measure, and the torrent bears along the swelling foam (mounting to the surface). (Even so) and from that (the ore) what they melt in the fire for the sake of (making) ornaments or (the necessary) implements, arises a scum like it. Thus, compares God the truth and the falsehood, then as for the scum, it passes away as a worthless thing, and as for which profits the people, then it remains in the earth. Thus does God set forth parables. (13:17)

However, the process of creation, manifestation, and development (including both the processes of devolution and evolution) is circular in the sense the process ultimately ends at the point from which it proceeds. Hence, to the theist the process begins with the highest and ends with highest.

قُلْ أَمَرَ رَبِّي بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَأَقِيمُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ عِنْدَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَادْعُوهُ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ ۚ كَمَا بَدَأَكُمْ تَعُودُونَ {29}

Say you, “My Lord has enjoined justice and set you upright your faces at (each time and place) of prostration, and call upon Him being sincere exclusively unto Him in religion, even as He brought you forth (in the beginning) so unto Him shall also return.”(7:29)

يَوْمَ نَطْوِي السَّمَاءَ كَطَيِّ السِّجِلِّ لِلْكُتُبِ ۚ كَمَا بَدَأْنَا أَوَّلَ خَلْقٍ نُعِيدُهُ ۚ وَعْدًا عَلَيْنَا ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا فَاعِلِينَ {104}

On that day We roll up the heavens, as is rolled up the written scroll, as We caused the first creation, so will We get it returned. It is a promise binding Us, verily We were doing it. (21:104)

قُلْ جَاءَ الْحَقُّ وَمَا يُبْدِئُ الْبَاطِلُ وَمَا يُعِيدُ {49}

Say you, “The truth has come and falsehood neither brings forth anything nor does it reproduce.” (34:49)

But to the atheist, it begins with the lowest reality and it ends the same way.

وَقَالُوا مَا هِيَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا نَمُوتُ وَنَحْيَا وَمَا يُهْلِكُنَا إِلَّا الدَّهْرُ ۚ وَمَا لَهُمْ بِذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ ۖ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ {24}

And say they, “Naught it is save our life in this world, we die and live and destroys us not but time.” For them there is no knowledge of that: they do but (merely) guess. (45:24)

Absolute and Relative Reality

The conclusion is that (a) the Absolute Reality, the Infinite One, reveals or manifests Himself creatively, (which means producing an effect without being associated with any change in the cause) in the relative reality of the finite objects. These objects differ from each other in the degree of reality according to the stage they occupy in the hierarchy of relative realities. And (b) these finite objects owe their degrees of reality to their being His manifestation, subservient to His will.

وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ وَلَدًا ۗ سُبْحَانَهُ ۖ بَلْ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ كُلٌّ لَهُ قَانِتُونَ {116}

And they say God has taken unto Him a son. Glory be to Him. Nay! This is all which is in the heavens and the earth, Him (alone) everything obeys (suppliantly). (2:116)

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا إِلَىٰ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ مِنْ شَيْءٍ يَتَفَيَّأُ ظِلَالُهُ عَنِ الْيَمِينِ وَالشَّمَائِلِ سُجَّدًا لِلَّهِ وَهُمْ دَاخِرُونَ {48}

Or see they not towards what God has created in which everything turns its shadow to the right and to the left, prostrating in obeisance unto God, while they lie abased. (16:48)

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَسْجُدُ لَهُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ وَالنُّجُومُ وَالْجِبَالُ وَالشَّجَرُ وَالدَّوَابُّ وَكَثِيرٌ مِنَ النَّاسِ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ حَقَّ عَلَيْهِ الْعَذَابُ ۗ وَمَنْ يُهِنِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ مُكْرِمٍ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْعَلُ مَا يَشَاءُ ۩ {18}

See you not God (is He), unto Him prostrates whosoever is in the heavens and whosoever is in the earth and the sun and the moon and the stars and the mountains and the trees and animals, and many of the people. (22:18)

وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَبْدَأُ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ يُعِيدُهُ وَهُوَ أَهْوَنُ عَلَيْهِ ۚ وَلَهُ الْمَثَلُ الْأَعْلَىٰ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ {27}

And He it is Who originates the creation, then causes it to return again, and to Him is it most easy. His are the most exalted similtudes in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Almighty, the All-wise. (30:27)

ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ وَهِيَ دُخَانٌ فَقَالَ لَهَا وَلِلْأَرْضِ ائْتِيَا طَوْعًا أَوْ كَرْهًا قَالَتَا أَتَيْنَا طَائِعِينَ {11}

Then He applied Himself unto the heaven, which was yet smoke, so said He unto it and unto the earth, “Come you two, willing or reluctant?” Said the two, “We do come willingly.” (41:11)

The finite objects of both the arcs of ascent and descent in and of themselves are nothing and having nothing. They are devoid of reality and all analytical attributes and excellences of the Absolute Reality, and whatever degree of reality or excellence they have is from Him.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنْتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ {15}

Oh you people! You are the needy unto God, and God (alone) is he Who is the Self-sufficient, the Most Praised One. (35:15)

Therefore, in relation to the Absolute Reality, the finite objects have nothing of the excellence in themselves to be termed as inherent. Everything is from Him and is the revelation and manifestation of His will.

وَإِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا عِنْدَنَا خَزَائِنُهُ وَمَا نُنَزِّلُهُ إِلَّا بِقَدَرٍ مَعْلُومٍ {21}

And there is not a thing but with Us are its treasures, and We do not send it down but a known measure. (15:21)

This is the fact when we speak of the finite in relation to the Infinite. But if we speak of the Infinite as manifested in the finite, then the use of the prefix “in,” signifying the process from within to without, from into to out, inner to outer, is justified, and in this case the use of the term “I” also is justified because now it is God, the Infinite Who is referring to Himself. Here and elsewhere in the Qur’an, the use of “I” or “We” as the term of reference is justified, because it is God the Infinite Who is speaking of Himself through His creature or manifestation.

يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنَّهُ أَنَا اللَّهُ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ {9}

Oh Moses! Verily it is. I am God, the Almighty, the All-wise. (27:9)

فَلَمَّا أَتَاهَا نُودِيَ مِنْ شَاطِئِ الْوَادِ الْأَيْمَنِ فِي الْبُقْعَةِ الْمُبَارَكَةِ مِنَ الشَّجَرَةِ أَنْ يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنِّي أَنَا اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ {30}

When came he unto it (he) was called (by a voice) from the right side of the valley, in the blessed spot, from the tree, saying, “Oh Moses! Verily I am God, the Lord of the worlds. (28:30)

وَنَادَيْنَاهُ مِنْ جَانِبِ الطُّورِ الْأَيْمَنِ وَقَرَّبْنَاهُ نَجِيًّا {52}

And We called unto him from the right side of Mount Sinai, and made him draw nigh (unto Us) for a communion. (19:52)

This is with regard to viewing the Infinite One and the finite many in relation to each other. The finites owe the degree and extent of their reality to the Infinite One Who has manifested Himself in them. Thus, as the manifestation of the Infinite Real One, the finites display all the attributes of reality, all which is identical with the reality (wajib al-wojud).9 Hence, cognition and volition, self-consciousness, self-love and will are necessarily displayed in the finites in accordance with the degree of the reality they display. Even primal matter, of dimensional and ever-becoming nature, the least and lowest in the degree of reality, which for all practical purposes is considered to be void of consciousness and will, is, according to the Qur’an, not totally void and bereft of these excellences.

تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ السَّمَاوَاتُ السَّبْعُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَنْ فِيهِنَّ ۚ وَإِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ وَلَٰكِنْ لَا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حَلِيمًا غَفُورًا {44}

Celebrate His glory the seven heavens and the earth, and (all) those in them, and there is not anything but it glorifies Him, but you understand not their glorification. Verily, He is the Forbearing, the Oft-forgiving. (17:44)

ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ وَهِيَ دُخَانٌ فَقَالَ لَهَا وَلِلْأَرْضِ ائْتِيَا طَوْعًا أَوْ كَرْهًا قَالَتَا أَتَيْنَا طَائِعِينَ {11}

Then He applied Himself unto the heaven, which was yet only a smoke, so said He unto it and unto the earth, “Come you two willing or reluctantly?” Said the two, “We do come willingly.” (41:11)

فَقَضَاهُنَّ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ فِي يَوْمَيْنِ وَأَوْحَىٰ فِي كُلِّ سَمَاءٍ أَمْرَهَا ۚ وَزَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِمَصَابِيحَ وَحِفْظًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ {12}

And he made them seven heavens in two days (periods), and revealed in every heaven His will, and adorned We the lower heavens with lights (of the brilliant stars), and made it guarded (with angels). This is the decree of the Almighty, the All-knowing. (41:12)

سَبَّحَ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ {1}

They all praise the Lord of the universe: praise whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth the Glory of God, and He is the Ever-prevalent, the All-wise. (59:1)

سَبَّحَ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ {1}

Hallows God whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, and He is the Ever-Prevalent, the All-wise. (61:1)

يُسَبِّحُ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ ۖ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ {1}

Hallows the Glory of God whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. His (exclusively) is the kingdom and unto Him (only) is due (all) praise, and He (alone) is over all things, All-powerful. (64:1)

وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ {3}

Your Lord has revealed unto her. (109:5)

The heavens, earth, matter and material beings of celestial or terrestrial realms, in accordance with their degree of reality, are all associated with some degree of cognition and volition. They are dominated and administered by a spiritual force which is termed by some scientists as the “fifth dimension,” responsible for such phenomena as are inexplicable in terms of four dimensional space-time. In short, life in its highest sense, i.e., consciousness which is identical with the Real One of Infinite Creative Might, is bound to assert itself in some way or other and to some degree in every manifestation of Him, even in matter and material beings.10

Finite in Relation to Finites and in Relation to its Various Aspects

Besides the two aforesaid angles of the finites in relation to the Infinite and the finites in relation to the finites, there are two other points of views: (1) that of the finites in relation each other and (2) that of every finite in relation to its own various aspects. According to the first viewpoint, the terms (prefixes) “in and out,” “inner and outer,” may find their application. The finites of higher grades in the arc of descent may be considered as “Ins” or inner aspects of lower ones, which in turn may be viewed as the “Outs,” or outer aspects or revelation of higher ones. But the arc of ascent the finites of lower grades from the Ins,” i.e. inner layers, the latent potentiality and possibility of the higher ones. They (the higher layers), in turn may be considered as the developments of the lower ones.

The difference between the Ins and Outs of the two arcs is the process in the former is from Absolute Reality, actuality and creativeness to the utmost possibility, potentiality and recipience, while in the latter the process is reversed, i.e. from possibilities, potentiality and recipiency to reality, actuality and creativeness. Hence, the appropriate term for it is development, the process of becoming, what one was not, or having what one did not have, as opposed to revelation which is the process of displaying what is already inherent in certain faculties and power. But, as the law of sufficient reasoning requires, development in this sense cannot take place without the direct or indirect assistance of some creative agencies of the former arc (the arc of descent).

The developments in the world of matter, celestial or terrestrial, are affected either through the psychical and intellectual forces, faculties or entities of the arc of descent, termed as angels, or through the agency of the material beings or psychical or intellectual attainment (such as man, animal and plant) and even the rotating nucleus of the atomic or solar system which are in correspondence with those of the other arc. Thus, in all material developments the developed forms have two aspects, the potential and actual; the former is rooted in matter and comes from within, while the latter is not in matter, it is revealed to matter by the agency which is actual in some way or other.

The material used in the structure of a machine has the potentiality for the form and the form is the developed state of that potentiality, but, the form is given to the material by the intellectual agency of man. Actualization or realization of potentialities is always accomplished by some actual agency. The materials of the embryo have the potentiality of becoming the child, capable of assuming the form of a baby.

هُوَ الَّذِي يُصَوِّرُكُمْ فِي الْأَرْحَامِ كَيْفَ يَشَاءُ ۚ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ {6}

He it is Who fashioned you in the wombs (of your mothers) as he likes. There is no God but He, the Almighty, the All-wise. (3:6)

Revelation Qur’anic terms, Atom, Soul, Ego, Appetite, Self-consciousness

Before dealing with the last viewpoint concerning finite of the arc of ascent in relation to its own various aspects, the term revelation used hitherto should be further clarified. Revelation literally means removal of the veil, to show what is hidden. The Arabic equivalents of the term in this sense are Ibad‘, izhar, i‘lam, tamsil and tajali, (i.e. disclosure or communication of the divine will and message through unusual and super-natural means), are specific shades of the meaning of the term. The most suitable Arabic equivalent of revelation is the term Wahy and its derivatives as used in the Qur’an. But revelation does not convey the exact meaning of the term nazala or nuzulu and their derivatives used in the Qur’an. The term in all its shades of meaning keeps the sense of “coming down to evidence.” It applies to concerns to concrete objects and concrete ups and downs as well as the abstract objects and abstract ups and downs.

وَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ مَنْ نَزَّلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَوْتِهَا لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّهُ ۚ قُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ {63}

And if you ask them, “Who sends down from heaven the water, and gives life with it unto the earth after its death?” Certainly will they say, “God!” Say, “All praise is His.” Nay! most of them understand not. (29:63)

وَإِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا عِنْدَنَا خَزَائِنُهُ وَمَا نُنَزِّلُهُ إِلَّا بِقَدَرٍ مَعْلُومٍ {21}

And there is not a thing but with Us are its treasures, and We do not send it down but in a known measure. (15:21)

وَإِنَّهُ لَتَنْزِيلُ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ {192}

نَزَلَ بِهِ الرُّوحُ الْأَمِينُ {193}

عَلَىٰ قَلْبِكَ لِتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُنْذِرِينَ {194}

And verily it has come down from the Lord of the Worlds. Came down with it the Spirit trusted, upon thee (oh Our Prophet Muhammad), in which you may be the warner. (26:192 – 194)

لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنْزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَأَنْزَلْنَا الْحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأْسٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَنْصُرُهُ وَرُسُلَهُ بِالْغَيْبِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ {25}

Indeed sent We our Apostles with clear proofs, and sent We down with them the Books and the scale which people may establish themselves in justice, and sent We down iron wherein is latent (in its use) mighty power and also benefits for humankind and God may prove who helps Him and His Apostles in secret. Verily God is All-strong, the Ever-prevalent. (57:25)

Descent and Ascent

It has also been used for physical and concrete objects coming into existence and evidence (zahur) as if the descended from the height of Godhead or of the angelical realm to the ground of the material world. In other words, the term descent (nuzul) used in the Qur’an implies coming down from above, while the term revelation used in the English language as its equivalent implies hidden and apparent. The opposite of descent (nuzul) is ascent and development (sa‘ud, ‘uruj’ iritqa). Having these terminological differences in perspective we go back in the viewpoint in question, i.e. every finite of the arc of ascent in relation to its various aspects. The four dimensional matter, the starting point in the arc of ascent in the inert ground, the carrier of unlimited possibilities, potentialities and receptivities. Through the agency of the immaterial force, in immediate touch with it, the matter is divided into the smallest quantitative particles or atoms or specific individualities (the dharrah of the Qur’an).

Each individual entity or unit as such, is composed of the rotating central part which has been proven, recently, to be composed of three components known as proton, positron, and neutron, and the revolving satellitic parts. The central part is the ground for receiving radiation, energy or force with one hand and reflecting it to the extent of its immediate potentiality with the other. This reflection, or the energy conditioned by the immediate recipiency of the ground, is the soul, working in the mechanism of the atomic unit. This is the dynamic force which produces, first, rotation in the central part and subsequently, revolution in the satellites. Of the material and physical forces none produces such effect without some mechanical device which is absent here; it is matter in its simplest and inorganic form.

Hence, the force is immaterial with which every atom is distinguished from the other and to which it owes its individuality. Thus we can term the atom as the primal cell, the smallest living component in the structure of bigger bodies, notwithstanding the fact, in which bodies composed of them which are lacking the faculty of nourishment, growth and reproduction, are considered inanimate and lifeless because the question of life and death, living an non-living, is like the question of degree or kind, purely relative. So to term them inanimate is justified in comparison to plants, etc. and to term them living cells from the other consideration is also justified. What is true of the atom is true of the big bodies of terrestrial, celestial, earthly and heavenly realms.

From their primitive stages, to their fully developed forms, from their nebular conditions up to the fully grown solar system, all these bodies owe their rotational, spiral, revolutionary and other movements essential in the process of their formation, to the specific immaterial energy which has individualized the body as a unit. This is the specific immaterial reflection (psyche, soul or self) of the immaterial radiation from the arc of descent.

The principle applied to the formation of the atom – the smallest unit of the simplest form of matter, applies also to the formation of the molecule, the smallest unit of the composite bodies. When two or more atoms of different kinds join together and form a common centre, termed as nucleus, a molecule of the composite bodies, such as water, air and other solid, liquid and gaseous substance is formed. The nucleus of the molecule so formed, as the higher centre, governs the centre, of every component atom which is its subordinate. The new centre owes its development and actualization to some immaterial agency. It becomes the central ground for new radiations and new reflections.

Thus the new soul, new self or new psychic force individualizes the various material substances, which form the new stage of material development. We term the new stage, figurative, as the new layer or stratum. This layer or stratum in turn becomes the ground for the development of the protoplasm, which is the original and substantial ground for new forms of life, found commonly in the kingdoms of plants, animals and human beings. The process is generally the same. Molecules of various substances – oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen – join together in particular proportions and form a common central ground, the nucleus of vegetable life. This ground receives and reflects the immaterial energy which produces movements of various directions – nourishment, growth, self-repair and reproduction – within the simplest organ, termed as the primitive cell, or protoplasm. This stage is the third stratum in the course of development and is the ground for further developments through the same process. By the combination of the living cells of different kinds in various forms and ratios under a common centre of a more complicated nature and of a higher capacity of specific kinds, new individual souls and new lives of various species come into being and start their progress.

These selves, souls or ego-centres are surrounded by their (1) internal layers or strata, (2) external environments of physical nature, terrestrial and celestial, and (3) immaterial agencies of the arc of descent. They (the ego-centres are always in the stage of give and take, act and react, govern and be governed and receive and reflect. They influence and govern their inner layers and strata or the subordinate centres within them and in return they are also influenced and governed by them. They influence and are influenced. Their relation with the immaterial agencies of the lower grades is also the same as of the material environment, i.e. reciprocal. But their relation with the agencies of higher grades is of a beggar to a giver, the more the begging and want, the more the giving and enrichment.

The vegetable soul at its zenith of the faculty of nourishment, growth and reproduction is the base for the development of animal faculties, such as appetite, lust, sensory, and voluntary movement. The height of vegetable life is the ground of animal life. These animal faculties imply apriori the higher degree of self-consciousness, self-love, self-preservation and self-expansion which are absent in the vegetable kingdom. These are the subjective aspects of the animal self or soul. In the order mentioned here one is the basis and background of the objective aspect of all animal faculties of cognition, volition, emotion and instinct. Self-consciousness is the root and background of the development of all the subjective and objective aspects and the organs and instruments of animal faculties.

It is true of all animals. The difference between one animal and another in this respect may be the difference of degree, number and extent of the faculties. From the simplest cell, insect, reptile, to the most complicated mammalia of the land, the high animals of the sea and air, all have these in common and vary from each other only in degree and kind. The sensual faculty which begins with the sense organ of touch (with all its varieties) to the sense of sight and hearing is based on self-consciousness.

Sense: Basis of Imagination and Memory on which Intellectual Faculty is Based – A Gift

The senses in turn form the basis for development of the faculties of imagination and memory, which are the zenith of the animal mind. The animal kingdom may be divided and classified according to the degree, number and kind of senses and power of imagination and memory. However, the animal mind has two ways out to the material world surrounding it. One is the external senses which connect the mind to the surrounding material world directly and the other is the internal strata or the subordinate self-centres are pre- and post-vegetable stages which connect the mind to the surrounding world of matter indirectly. They are the unconscious and the subconscious strata of the animal soul. They are subjacents to the animal conscious self. They are the seat of vegetable and animal instincts, which form the basis of appetite, lust, emotion and volition.

Thus, though the instincts are working within the animal soul, and influence its course of activities, they are material connected with the outside world. Besides the instincts which are common to all animals, the memory in the higher animals becomes the second indirect link which connects the mind with the world perceived through external senses. It stores and preserves all the images and impressions received through external senses and all the emotional processes caused by these impressions or by the working of internal instincts. The imagination with all its creative power would be totally nil if it were detached from memory.

Imagination and memory are the zenith of the animal mind and the ground of human reasoning, which means the power of discovery and invention or in a better term used in the Qur’an, the power of expression, al-bayan – the power with which man is distinguished from all other animals:

عَلَّمَهُ الْبَيَانَ {4}

He taught him expressions. (55:4)

It is the power through which the ego-centre of man brings forth creatively whatever impression it has received or formed from the surrounding regions. It is this power of expression which reproduces the impressions intelligibly received either directly as they were received (which is discovery), or in a new form not received before (which is invention).

The Qur’anic term, power of expression, is very close to the Greek term Logos or power of speech used in Logic for reasoning and “rational-soul” (nafs-e natiqa), the speaking soul. But the word “expression” it its literal sense is more comprehensive than speech, though figuratively each can be used in the place of the other as equivalent and co-extensive. “Expression” includes both discovery and invention brought to evidence and conveyed to others through speech, writing, signs, building and action, while speech in its literal sense is only one way of expression.

However, the function of the intellectual faculty of reasoning is to proceed from the known to the unknown by the process of generalization and particularization, by extracting general ideas from the particular objects of senses and by applying the general ideas to the particular objects of sense. The basis for this function is the self-evident concepts and propositions. These form the basic and categorical mode of the conscious self in the intellectual stage. These are the apriori subjective conditions of the intellectual conscious self. There are the actual human modes of intellect into which the animal conscious self-develops. This mode of mind like all other specific modes and forms owes its actuality to the two corresponding factors already pointed out, namely to passive receptivity of the ground (which here is the animal’s conscious self in its zenith of imagination and memory and the creative agency of the arc of descent (which here must be the higher immaterial being or intellectual faculty).

These subjective conditions are undoubtedly acquired and are not inherent in the animal’s conscious self. But their acquisition of the sensory objects depends on the prior presence of these subjective conditions. It cannot also be through the substrata of the animal self (the unconscious, subconscious and the animal and the vegetable instincts). They are far from having such cognitive faculties and must be considered as the reflection of the descending radiations of the arc of descent, or reflections caused by some super-conscious faculties. In other words, they are the gift from Him through super-natural means.

إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا {2}

Verily We created man from a small insignificant life drop of inter-mingled life germ (of both sexes), in order We put him to trial, so We endowed him with hearing, seeing. (76:2)

وَاللَّهُ أَخْرَجَكُمْ مِنْ بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ شَيْئًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۙ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ {78}

And God has brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers – you knew not anything, and He gave you hearing and sight and heart, in which you may give thanks. (16:78)

However, this gifted primitive intellectual state is the actual mode of the human mind or the human conscious self in comparison to the animal states of mind and the animal conscious self. But with regard to the higher stage of intellectual development, this stage is rightly termed by Avicenna, as “Potential Intellect,” (aql-e hyulani).

The second stage, according to him, is the stage of the “Actual Intellect” (aql-e bil fai‘l) when the subjective conditions come into the focus of consciousness. The next or third is the stage of the “Holding Intellect” (‘aql-e bil malikah) when these conditions begin to reflect on the object of the senses. The fourth stage is termed “researching intellect” (‘aql-e bil mustafad), the stage of gaining data and information and forming ideas. The fifth is the stage of the “Creative Intellect” (‘aql-e fa‘al). When the conscious self has reached the highest intellectual faculty of creativeness it attains the zenith of the human mind, where all the psychical processes surrounding the conscious self are focused and radiated.

In the process of reasoning down from general to particular (the deductive process) and vice versa, reasoning up from particular to general (the inductive process), the creative intellect forms two arcs of descent and ascent within the region of the mind, similar to the two arcs of creation, but in a very diminished and miniature form. As in the case of creation, here also the two arcs of descent and ascent form a complete circle of ideas, differing in the degree of universality and comprehensiveness.

Revolving Process of Creation and Reasoning – Belief in Bada‘a a-Naskh

But the most important point to be noted here is that, in spite of the fact that both the process of divine creation (of which man is a link) and the process of human reasoning within the region of the human mind are circular and revolving, it does not necessarily mean repetition and recurrence of events, the theory adhered to by many schools of thought to the extent it has become proverbial – “history repeats itself.” The circular movement or process would certainly mean repetition and recurrence, if the orbit of movement would remain the same. But neither in the case of creation nor in reasoning does the orbit of the process necessarily remain the same. In the case of creation, the unlimited conscious might of the Absolute, in the course of its creative descent of refracting nature terminates in the primal matter or the four dimensional ground of unlimited receptivity.

The unlimited might acting on the ground of unlimited receptivity – four dimensional ground (space-time) or ever-becoming ground, the ground of constant change, results necessarily, as its reaction and reflection, in the appearance (or coming into existence) of new finite beings of links in the chain and order of creation. By adding new links the orbit expands necessarily. By expansion of the orbit, more potentialities and receptivities come to the central ground for development. So, along with unlimited length of the fourth dimension, the orbit of creation expands. Hence, in no round will the circle remain exactly as before, so there is no repetition of the events.

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ جَاعِلِ الْمَلَائِكَةِ رُسُلًا أُولِي أَجْنِحَةٍ مَثْنَىٰ وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ ۚ يَزِيدُ فِي الْخَلْقِ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ {1}

(All) praise is God’s, the Originator of the heavens and the earth, the Maker of the angels, messengers flying on wings, two, and three, and four: he adds to his creation whatever he wills. Verily God over all things has power. (35:1)

وَالسَّمَاءَ بَنَيْنَاهَا بِأَيْدٍ وَإِنَّا لَمُوسِعُونَ {47}

And the heaven, We did raise it up with (Our) Might, and We make the vast extent (thereof). (51:47)

In the case of the intellectual process, the expansion of the orbit is clearer because the conscious self of every individual is a link in the expanding process of creation. He is connected with the two arcs of creation: the active immaterial agencies of the arc of descent and the recipient of the arc of ascent. Hence, along with the expansion in such surroundings the expansion of the human intellect in its circular process of reasoning is inevitable. The revolution and evolution in the objective and subjective worlds of creation and reasoning, or in the world without human self-consciousness and the world within it, are necessary and go together. So the known, the knowing and the knower with regard to man are in constant cyclical evolution. Hence the Qur’an instructs: Say (oh Prophet), “Oh my Lord, increase my knowledge,”11 and the Prophet says, “In loss is he whose two days remain the same (unchanged).”12

This theory of evolutionary course in the revolving process of creation and reasoning plays a very important part in solving many metaphysical, theological, ethical, social and political problems. It is one of the most important premises in the arguments against (a) absolute pre-determinism, (b) the quantitative fixity of the total of matter and energy, the eternity and indestructibility of their total, though one is reducible into the other, and (c) the theory of transmigration, reincarnation, or the earthly rebirth of the finite soul which has departed from its previous earthly form or body. The theory of evolutionary course is the basic point in favour of the theory of bada‘a adhered to and advocated by the Shi‘ah school of thought, which means the possibility of change in the given system of creation, development or legislation, hitherto unknown to man or even to the higher agencies of the arc of descent.

Bada‘a or naskh means the possibility of sudden or gradual change in the system of creation not known to man. The knowledge of the change remained with God unrevealed to the mind of man in the arc of ascent or even to the intellectual agencies of the arc of descent because the specific potentiality for development was too far from the central ground to justify revealing it to the intellectual agencies of the two arcs. As the Qur’an says, “They (the intellectual agencies) do not comprehend aught of His knowledge save to the extend He wills.” (2:255)

يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ

He knows what is before them and what is behind them, while they cannot comprehend anything out of His knowledge save which He wills. (2:255)

So bada‘a and naskh means the appearance of new objects of the creative or legislative will of God in the code of creation in legislation which were not known before, nor expected by the angels. It does not contradict what was revealed before; rather it means revelation of what was not revealed before. Otherwise, whatever the angels of either arc have shown to be the object of the creative will of God, is bound to happen, “God is far from belying His own Messengers and Prophets” (Ref. Kafi, Bab al-Bada‘a). So there is no such thing as contradiction of information given by the divine agencies. Similarly, it is imperative in which man should do whatever they (the divine agencies) have shown to be the object of the legislative will of God. So there is no abrogation of divine orders.

The case of Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrificing his son was in complete accord with what appeared to Ibrahim in a dream, i.e. he saw in a dream he was slaughtering his son, and it was in accord with the interpretation which appeared to the son, Isma‘il. Ibrahim saw in a dream what he was doing and the son understood it was an order which was obeyed completely. The act of slaughtering which Ibrahim had to do, was done, and the patience and readiness which the son had to show, was shown.13 They both did what they were order to do. Being slaughtered was in God’s hand and was withheld from Him. There is no question of abrogation of any order or contradiction of any information. Therefore, any tradition that an infallible representative of God had been informed by Him and he (the representative) in turn informed the people of the happening of a certain event, which did not happen as it had been foretold, is false. The story of Adam given in the Qur’an (2:30) says:

وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَنْ يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ {30}

(Recollect oh Our Apostle Muhammad) when your Lord said unto the angels, “Verily I (intend to) appoint a vicegerent on the Earth.” They said, “Will though (oh our Lord) appoint therein one who will cause mischief and shed blood, while we celebrate by Your praise and hallow You alone?” Said (the Lord to the angels), “Verily, I know what you know not.” (2:30)

This is the best example of a revelation and disclosure to the high intellectual agencies of the arc of descent (angels) about a specific object of the creative will of God which was new in that it was yet to appear on the scene of creation. Ali said about bada‘a (appearance of sudden change in the system of creation), “God has in His knowledge innumerable changes to be effected, in the system of creation, which may come into evidence all of a sudden. Were not the system of creation subject to change I would have informed you of all that was going to happen until Resurrection Day.”

In the case of Adam, God revealed to Adam, first, all the names of certain entities and he in turn was ordered to inform the angels of those names. This is what we call the appearance of “new schemes of creation” or “legislation” in the Book of Providence to be revealed to the angels of either or both the arcs. It is obvious that bada‘a in this sense has no application to God at all. He is All-knowing, Almighty. Nothing in the heavens and the earth is absent from Him. His knowledge of even the minutest of the objects of creation or legislation remains unchanged, before, during and after the time of creation and legislation. He is the Creator of time and space. He is not affected by space and time, either in His essence or in His attributes.

Nature of Divine Knowledge and Planning

In other words, the terms prior and posterior (taqaddum ta’khur) and before and after (qabl, ba‘d) are relative. They may be used in relation to time, order, rank, position and even possession. It is obvious that all things are known to Him at once. His knowledge embraces everything and He cannot be supposed at any given time to know something and be ignorant of others. All are known to Him at once, and simultaneously in relation to time and forever. So there is no question of His prior or posterior knowledge of any object so far as time is concerned. The question is whether the terms prior and posterior can be used about His knowledge in relation to the order of the known objects.

For the sake of analysis only His knowledge of the objects other than Himself may be differentiated from His knowledge of His essence. His knowledge of His own essence may be said to be prior to His knowledge of His own attributes. It is true the real attributes, such as knowledge and love, are actually identical with His essence and with each other. But from an analytical point of view these ideas differ from the essence, and from each other, too. So, in this respect, His attributes would have the essence and the essence would have been composed of those ideas. The same would be the case of those ideas in relation to each other; every idea would be composed of the other. Thus, though everything is known to Him at the same time He is known to Himself, yet the knowledge of Himself, speaking analytically, is prior to the knowledge of His attributes.

It is through His attributes in which the finite objects are known to Him. In this manner, among the finite objects, His knowledge of those ideas and objects which are more universal and comprehensive may be classified as prior to His knowledge of those ideas and objects which are less in universality and comprehensiveness – the ideas which tend more towards particularity. In short, simultaneous knowledge of two things does not necessarily mean they are co-ordinate in being known. The knowledge of one may be sub-ordinate to the knowledge of the other. The knowledge of the real cause means simultaneous knowledge of the effect, but in order of sequence of the knowledge of the other. The knowledge of the real cause means simultaneous knowledge of the effect, but in order of sequence the knowledge of the latter may be taken as sub-ordinate and posterior to the knowledge of the former.

The knowledge of the cause implies the knowledge of the effect, the explicit knowledge of the cause means the implicit knowledge of the effect, but explicit knowledge of the latter is next in the order of sequence of the explicit knowledge of the former. Thus, the knowledge of the attributes is implicit to His knowledge of His own essence, but explicitly they are not there. The explicitly knowledge of the attributes is posterior in order to the explicit knowledge of the essence. Similarly, the explicit knowledge of the attributes implies the knowledge of the finite object of the highest order in universality and comprehensiveness, but its explicit condition is next in rank and order and is sub-ordinate to the explicit knowledge of the attributes. So, the knowledge of the finite object of the highest order implies the knowledge or the object next to it, in causal order and rank.

The explicit knowledge of the higher means implicit knowledge of the lower, but the explicit knowledge of the lower cannot be aligned in everything, every being, essence, attribute is known and present to Him explicitly, at one and the same time but each in its own stage and not in the prior stage. Any Qur’anic passage or apostolic statement which seems to indicate there was or will be with Him or there was or will be a time when something was not or will not be known to Him, should be interpreted as to mean a certain stage and state and not any point of time.

Instead of the pronoun for time, “when,” it should be taken to mean the pronoun for stage and state, “where.” Once a sage was asked about the meaning of the celebrated saying of the Holy Prophet, “God was, when nothing else was with Him,” and he said, “Even now He is as He was, there is nothing with Him.” It means in the state of His absoluteness nothing else (finite) was, is or will be with Him. This should the exact interpretation of the first verse of Chapter 76:

هَلْ أَتَىٰ عَلَى الْإِنْسَانِ حِينٌ مِنَ الدَّهْرِ لَمْ يَكُنْ شَيْئًا مَذْكُورًا {1}

Surely did come over man to pass an occasion of time when he was nothing mentioned of? (76:1)

Al-dahr is duration (time), as an undivided length of time or “eternity to eternity.” In the last sense time is almost synonymous with abad (always), sarmad (continue), constant, permanent and perpetual. In other words, time has two aspects – non-constant and changing, and constant and perpetual. Time as a whole is perpetual and in part is non-constant and changing. The total, the constant and perpetual aspect of time is dahr and its changing and non-constant aspect is hin (occurrence). The relation of events to the changing aspect of time, past, present or future is hin: (a) the relation of one changing phenomenon to another changing phenomenon is time. The relation of the changing parts of time to its undivided whole is dahr. The relation of changing phenomenon to the perpetual one is dahr. (b) The perpetual aspect of time to the self-subsistent one is sarmad (c), i.e. the relation of perpetual to perpetual is sarmad (diam).

Having this meaning of dahr in view, some important implications of this seemingly simple passage of the Holy Book may be pointed out. It asserts (1) that dahr, the constant and perpetual change, though it has perpetuity as its constituent; it has also change, hin, as another constituent. And such an idea which is composed of change cannot be held as the self-subsistent origin of the events, the atheistic doctrine of time (dahriat) to which the Qur’an refers:

وَقَالُوا مَا هِيَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا نَمُوتُ وَنَحْيَا وَمَا يُهْلِكُنَا إِلَّا الدَّهْرُ ۚ وَمَا لَهُمْ بِذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ ۖ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ {24}

And say they, “Naught it is save our lie in this world; we die and live and destroys us not but time.” For them there is no knowledge of that. They do but (merely) guess. (45:24)

Because of the idea of change as its essential component, there can be no “self” to be termed as subsistent.

Therefore, this perpetual aspect, this continuity and everlastingness of time cannot be by time itself. It must be by something else, unchangeable, by something subsisting by itself. Actual time is nothing but a moment which like the geometrical point has no length at all, to be divided into past, present and future. The length is abstracted (and drawn) from the coming of moment after moment or say from the act of becoming, and an act as such requires something as the subject of becoming, and an agent to produce this becoming of the subject. The subject of becoming must be a thing identical with becomingness, something the nature of which is becomingness. Take for instance speech, the utterance of any word, phrase or sentence.

Though all its parts, the letters, are present in the mind simultaneously yet in assuming the form of sound in pronunciation, the parts are bound to appear in succession, one letter after the other, because the sound is a particular form of movement, its parts cannot in the nature of things come into being but in a successive way. This successive continuity is not effected by itself, nor by the previous part which has been uttered before the next comes into being. It is the effect of the continuous attention of the speaker to achieve his aim of conveying his ideas to the listeners. The attention embraces all the parts of speech at once, the gradual nature of the sound which the effectiveness of the attention is restricted from simultaneity to successional order. In this way the continuity of successive events depends on the constancy of the power or force behind the gradual happenings. Perpetual phenomenon owes its perpetuity to the perpetual cause behind it which is ultimately the self-subsistent (sarmad), and the changing and becoming phenomenon owes its becomingness to something of which becomingness is caused and cannot be the first cause uncaused.

On the other hand, the passage implies refutation of the doctrine which holds the inner self of man, the atmun as the perpetual background of all phenomenal changes. So the atmun is held to be the self-subsisting and the “Absolute Reality” behind all finite multiplicities which, according to their theory, are nothing but delusion. This doctrine has been presented in various terms, the Eternal word, the heavenly man, the third person in the trinity. This is the eternal man who appears in the form of finite material being of inanimate and animate entities, such as stone, plant, animal and men.

He deteriorates himself into the sensual and material bondage. Fettered with the consequences of his action, he is transferred or transformed from one body to another, better or worse than the previous one, until he is ultimately released and goes back to heaven or reappears on the terrestrial scene as aowtar or reincarnate of the Absolute one.

The doctrine of eternal man or of the eternity of the human soul is rooted in the pagan cults of the Hindus and the Greeks, most probably of Chaldean origin. However, the Qur’an refers to both the earthly and heavenly phases of man, and asserts that not only has his earthly phase undergone the evolutionary process of development from the simplest material form to the highest intellectual state of free choice,

إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا {2}

Verily We created man from a (small insignificant) life drop of inter-mingled life germ (of both sexes), in order We put him to trial, so We endowed him with hearing, seeing.” (76:2)

But even with regards to his heavenly phase, an occasional part (hin) of time (dahr) has passed when man was nothing to be mentioned. In a certain stage of eternity the explicit notion of man is absent, though implicitly it is there. In the stage of God’s explicit knowledge of His attributes, the perfect men are implicitly known, but not mentioned. This passage asserts that in certain stages of eternity, even the (explicit) notion of man is absent. As stated by the Imams (of the Ahl al-Bayt) the real man (the most perfect man) is in eternity (in the knowledge of God) but implicitly and unnoticed in certain stages already pointed out. So, a being as such cannot be termed as eternal. Eternity in its true sense is not applicable but to the Absolute One – the Divine Essence – which according to the Imams has no name, no sign, no predicate to be said about Him, save that “He Is” and “Is is He.”

This fact is referred to by Ali, “Whatever is known directly is made (is created),” and the sixth Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq says, “Whatever you defined and distinguished in its most exact sense, it is created like yourself and it returns to you. It mirrors your mind only and not the Reality.” There can be no Eternal but the One who is absolute and indefinable. Anything or being defined is not the Absolute, but is the manifestation of the Absolute, and therefore, dependent on the absolute, and is not self-existent or self-subsistent. So it is in some sense or other that can be said here, as though the first manifestation of the Absolute is finite and definable, and so in relation to sarmad (eternity) is an event, yet as it embraces implicitly all the subsequent chains of events (the finites of lesser degree), it can be termed as eternal relative (in relation to the finites and events which it implies).

Thus, the first manifestation, or the perfect man, is an event from one aspect and is eternal from another aspect. The implicit existence of real and perfect man in the high grades of relative eternity refers to the traditions and the apostolic statements which indicate the perfect men of highest order had a shadow-like existence in the peaks of the hierarchy of the arc of descent prior in order to all other possible beings of high order.

However, it should be borne in mind that all such apostolic statements, referring to the pre-physical existence of man, implicitly or explicitly, as a shadow, as a light illuminated from the light, or as luminous letters of symbolical significance should be understood to mean the various aspects of the spirit, radiated from God; the spirit of God infused into man, and not the souls of individuals which are the reflections of the radiated spirit, conditioned with the recipient nature of the grounds. The individual soul of man to which everyone refers as “I” (first person singular) is an event which comes into being, in the first stage, as a material power, fettered with all the conditions of space, time and the laws of evolution. It is through the constant activity of the radiated and radiant spirit which this material power (the soul in its early stage of development) begins to raise itself from the material fetters to the level of immaterial sphere of freedom – that is the level of the immediate radiating spirit of which the soul is a reflection.

The main reason for emphasis on bada‘a is to assert the destiny of creatures is not determined by God (Providence) in disregard of the creature’s recipiency, merits and efforts. The destiny of man, pleasure or pain, paradise or hell as a consequent, is predictable by anyone who knows the antecedent causes. But the knowledge of the antecedent is not the cause of the consequent. God, the Omniscient, knows of every antecedent and every consequent before they come into being. But His knowledge of the antecedents and the consequents is not the cause of their coming into being. His knowledge of the preceding and the following events justifies only His prediction, and does not hold Him responsible.

To some this argument may appear fallacious, in the sense it is true the knowledge of the cause is not the cause of the effect. It is the cause of the causes. We are concerned with the knowledge which is the cause of, and responsible, for, the effect. We are dealing with the knowledge of the first cause-uncaused which is the first and the ultimate cause of every finite being, big or small, material or immaterial, and of their essence and attributes and their total. The brief answer to this question is there are two kinds of knowledge. One is the knowledge on which the known depends and the other is the knowledge which depends on the known. Take the example of an architect who intends to plan a building. By his intention associated with his creative knowledge of architecture he creates a space (a ground) in his mind and then he begins to specify every portion of the imagined space (or ground) for a particular department of the intended building.

The imagined space (or ground) may be round triangular, square, pentagon or polygon, etc. Each of these shapes and figures has its own inherent and peculiar property which cannot be otherwise. A circular ground cannot have angles. No power can create a circle with angles. A triangular figure cannot be without three angles, nor can it have four or two angles. A creator can create within or without his mind any triangle, but he cannot give an angle more or take away one or more angles from it. Three angles are the analytical property of a triangle and therefore are uncaused. The same is true of other shapes. They have their analytical properties uncaused. Every ground of peculiar shape is suitable for a specific form of building for which no other shape is suitable.

Besides these, every ground has its centre, circumference, and the parts in between. Every part is suitable for a particular department for which the other parts are not. The parts were not arranged in the whole by the architect after the whole was imagined. The architect imagined the whole (the space). That imagination of the whole implies all the parts as its inherent and intrinsic property. Then the specific suitability of each part is also the inherent and analytical property thereof. It is not a synthetic attribute, an additional ability to require a cause of its own. Thus the architect with his creative knowledge of architecture imagined the whole space (or ground) directly and the parts and their specific suitability indirectly. So the parts and their suitability are uncaused in the sense in which they require no separate cause. Enough is the cause of the whole to be their cause.

This knowledge of architecture is the first phase of the architect’s knowledge without which the ground for designing could not be imagined. This is the knowledge on which the known depends. The second phase of his knowledge is the detailed planning and specifications of every part for a particular department, which depends on the specific suitability of each part, which is the inherent and analytical property of the part, and hence uncaused. Therefore, it is true to say there are two divine determinations – one is pre-detailed planning (qabl at-taqdir) and the other is post-detailed planning (qada ba‘d at-taqdir). The creative knowledge associated with the intention, mashiat ula (determination) to create, is the cause on which the whole, parts and their specific suitabilities depend. But the knowledge of the course of development and the ultimate destiny of every part and particle of the universe and of the whole cannot but be in accordance with the specific nature and suitability of each, and so depends on it (i.e. on the specific nature and suitability).

The divine knowledge of the post-planning which is associated with the final determination has obviously taken apriori into account the specific nature, quality, function and action of every part of the whole, which are based on the inherent nature and suitability. So, it is true the divine planning (taqdir) which is followed by final determination (qadha-i hatm) or irrevocable Providence, as it is stated by the Ahl al-Bayt, is based on the factors for which the creature is responsible and not the creator. Hence, it is true in this sense which it is we who make our destiny. It is our nature, our qualities, our function and our action which make paradise and hell.

Prayer and Supplications (Du‘a)

Thus our prayers and efforts are accountable to changing (conditioning) the pre-detailed determination. This is what the Qur’anic passage reveals concerning God’s promise to respond to the supplication of the supplicant in 2:186:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ {186}

And when My servants ask thee about Me, then (say unto them), “Verily I am nigh, I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he beseeches unto Me, so let them hearken unto Me and believe in me, so they may be led a right.” (2:186)

The last verse of 25 asserts that for the supplication of the creatures, God would not have cared for them:

قُلْ مَا يَعْبَأُ بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلَا دُعَاؤُكُمْ ۖ فَقَدْ كَذَّبْتُمْ فَسَوْفَ يَكُونُ لِزَامًا {77}

Say you (oh Our Apostle Muhammad) unto the disbelievers, “My Lord would (also) care not for you had it not been your prayer (unto Him), but you indeed have belied (the truth) and soon you shall be (in) the grip (of the inevitable).(25:77)

In 40:60, God says,

وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ

Pray unto Me, I will answer you.(40:60)

In 10:96, He asserts that the punishment decreed by God against the people of Jonah (Yunus) was averted due to their repentance. They returned to Him and became believers.

The Qur’an also asserts in 35:10, that the length of life, decreed (in the Book of Providence) may be granted to one in full, and a part of the length of the life of another may be cut by God. There are many statements of the Holy Prophet and the Imams which explain the length of life of an individual is subject to increase or reduction due to some charitable or mischievous deeds of the person concerned. This is what the celebrated saying of the Holy Prophet reported by Ali and recorded by all Muslim traditionists mean, “Do act (work). Everyone is provided with the facilities required for achieving (attaining) what he is created for.” All these prove without doubt that nature, behaviour do play an important part in finalizing the divine decree, concerning the course and destiny of individuals and nations, “And God, surely does not change the condition of a nation unless they change their own behaviour. God does not change (take away) the bounty He bestowed on a nation unless they change their own behaviour.”

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ لَمْ يَكُ مُغَيِّرًا نِعْمَةً أَنْعَمَهَا عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ ۙ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ {53}

This is because God changes not any favour (which) He bestows upon a people until they (themselves) change their own selves, and God is All-seeing, All-hearing. (8:53)

لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِنْ بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ ۗ وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ سُوءًا فَلَا مَرَدَّ لَهُ ۚ وَمَا لَهُمْ مِنْ دُونِهِ مِنْ وَالٍ {11}

Verily God changes not the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves, and when wills God unto any people a punishment, there is no repelling of it for them, there is none besides Him a protector. (13:11)

Human Responsibility, Earning Kash, Divine Measuring

The Qur’an and the apostolic statements assert also the fact that the divine decree (taqdir) or determination is of two stages: provisional (ajal wa qadha-i mu‘laq) and final (aqal wa qadha-i hatm). It is in the final stage in which the reaction or reflection of the creatures of the arc of ascent is taken into account and accordingly a certain amount of responsibility is put on them (the creatures). Particularly, man as the topmost in the hierarchy, with some degree of free choice, is distinguished with responsibility:

إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنْسَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا {72}

Verily We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and were afraid thereof, and man undertook it, verily he was (proved) unjust, ignorant. (33:72)

It is the consequence of this responsibility in which the moral imperative of “what ought to be” takes the place of the natural fact of “what is.” The “defacto” (natural fact) of animal life is replaced by the ideal of rational being (man), and then the moral, legal, social and political principles and laws become of some meaning and value. Thus, bada‘a in relation to divine knowledge means the appearance of pre-requisite conditions for final determination in the second phase of divine knowledge which depends on the known and not in the first phase of His knowledge, on which the known depends. The doctrine of bada‘a based on recognition of the two phases of divine knowledge – the knowledge on which the known depends and the knowledge which depends on the known – along with the theory, already established, of the evolutionary course of the revolving process of creation, is an answer to the fatalistic doctrine of Hindu cults, based on the pre-destination theory of karma and dharma and of Muslims’ faith of the ‘Asharite school based on the absolute arbitrary predestination.

It is also an answer to the theory of the absolute free will, the other extreme view held by the Mu‘atazelites (rationalist school of Sunni theology). The unlimited creative conscious might of the Creator causes the ever-becoming matter (or, space-time of four dimensional beings) to come into existence. Of the three space dimensions, every dimension and every part of each carries a specific and peculiar potentiality and recipiency, which is the analytical and inherent property of that dimension and of that part of it, different from that of the other dimensions or their parts. These varieties of potentialities of each dimension are to be multiplied by the fourth dimension of time which is unlimited. Then the result will be the unlimited potentiality and recipiency to appear in succession, as ground after ground for new planning and new designing. The Qur’an says, every individual and every nation, every group has a term (period) and every term has a record (or a book) or a divine “blue print” of its own and the “Mother Book” on which the ground and planning depend is with Him!

وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلٌ ۖ فَإِذَا جَاءَ أَجَلُهُمْ لَا يَسْتَأْخِرُونَ سَاعَةً ۖ وَلَا يَسْتَقْدِمُونَ {34}

And for every people (group or nation) is (an appointed) term, so when comes their (appointed) term, they shall not remain behind an hour (even for the least while) nor can they go before. (7:34)

وَلَنْ يُؤَخِّرَ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِذَا جَاءَ أَجَلُهَا ۚ وَاللَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ {11}

And never does god respite a soul, when has come unto it its fixed time, and God is All-aware of whatever you do. (63:11)

وَلَنْ يُؤَخِّرَ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِذَا جَاءَ أَجَلُهَا ۚ وَاللَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ {11}

And indeed We did send Apostles before you and gave We unto them wives and offspring, and it is not for an Apostle to bring or (show) a sign (miracle) but by God’s permission: for every term there is a book prescribed. (13:38)

يَمْحُو اللَّهُ مَا يَشَاءُ وَيُثْبِتُ ۖ وَعِنْدَهُ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ {39}

(Of it) effaces out God whatever He pleases and confirms He (similarly). And with Him is the Mother of the Book (basic source). (13:39)

Every term has a book. This book of term or the terms recorded therein are subject to obliteration or preservation, according to His will (as He wills), which is in accordance with His plan. And the plan is based on the nature, the analytical and inherent condition of the ground. “He created everything,” (the ground of everything: it is what religion terms as nature (tina or tinat), after which man is moulded), “then He measured it as a measuring ought to be.” “He gives everything the mould, mood, or shape which is requires,” “He plans and then guides.” This is what the Qur’anic term kasb (earning) means. The Qur’an has repeatedly asserted that “everyone’s and every nation’s destiny is indebted to what it has earned.

تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ ۖ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُمْ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ ۖ وَلَا تُسْأَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ {134}

This is a group (nation) which has passed away, for them is the reward which they (have earned) and you shall have which you (have) earned and you shall not be questioned for what they had been doing. (2:134)

تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ ۖ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُمْ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ ۖ وَلَا تُسْأَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ {141}

Those are a group (nation) which has passed away, for them (shall be) which they (have) earned and for you (shall be) what you earn and you will not be questioned about what they had been doing. (2:141)

أَمْ لَهُ الْبَنَاتُ وَلَكُمُ الْبَنُونَ {39}

أَمْ تَسْأَلُهُمْ أَجْرًا فَهُمْ مِنْ مَغْرَمٍ مُثْقَلُونَ {40}

أَمْ عِنْدَهُمُ الْغَيْبُ فَهُمْ يَكْتُبُونَ {41}

And there is not for man (aught) save what he strives for. And his striving shall soon be seen, then shall he be recompensed to the fullest measure. (52:39 – 41)

الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ ۚ لَا ظُلْمَ الْيَوْمَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ {17}

This day shall every soul be recompensed for what it has earned. No injustice (shall be done on the Day). Verily God is quick in reckoning. (40:17)

Thus, the seeming conflict between passages which hold man’s earning responsible for his destiny and the passages which emphasize it is He who guides whom He wills and it is He who misguides whom He wills, is removed. It is through His creative will and the first phase of His knowledge which the ground, the essence, nature and its inherent conditions come into evidence and distinction in His knowledge and then they come into being (existence). So, had not there been His will and knowledge, nothing could be distinguished or could come into existence. But the peculiar and specific destiny and the course of action and movement leading to it (to the destiny) are due to the second phase of His knowledge, which depends on the inherent conditions of the ground or the natural quest and demand of the ground (tina). In this sense, it is true whatever takes place through the agency of human will or without it, is by His creative will.

أَيْنَمَا تَكُونُوا يُدْرِكْكُمُ الْمَوْتُ وَلَوْ كُنْتُمْ فِي بُرُوجٍ مُشَيَّدَةٍ ۗ وَإِنْ تُصِبْهُمْ حَسَنَةٌ يَقُولُوا هَٰذِهِ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَإِنْ تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ يَقُولُوا هَٰذِهِ مِنْ عِنْدِكَ ۚ قُلْ كُلٌّ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ ۖ فَمَالِ هَٰؤُلَاءِ الْقَوْمِ لَا يَكَادُونَ يَفْقَهُونَ حَدِيثًا {78}

Wherever you be, death will overtake you, even if you be in towers (strong and lofty). If good befalls them they say, “This is from you.” Say (oh Our Apostle Muhammad), “All is from God.” But what has happened to these people which they will-nigh understand not anything spoken (to them). (4:78)

مَا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّهِ ۖ وَمَا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ سَيِّئَةٍ فَمِنْ نَفْسِكَ ۚ وَأَرْسَلْنَاكَ لِلنَّاسِ رَسُولًا ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا {79}

Whatever good befalls you (oh man) it is from God and whatever evil befalls you it is from yourself. We have sent you (oh Our Apostle Muhammad) unto humankind as (Our Apostle) and God is sufficient a witness (thereof). (4:79)

The result is that, though whatever a creature has or befalls him is undoubtedly from Him and is His gifts, “We sustain all: these and those and your Lord’s gift is not restricted” (17:20). Yet for receiving a specific mode of divine gifts the creature’s specific nature and mould of mind is responsible (17:84). It is the individual’s nature which earns a specific course of life and consequently pain or pleasure.

In short, the unlimited creative might from one side and the unlimited successive potentiality of the ground from the other, form the basic principle of ever-increasing supply-and-demand which is working in the mechanism of creation. Nevertheless, all this is within the purview of His all-embracing knowledge, which is according to the Ahl al-Bayt’s interpretation, is identical with what is termed in the Qur’an as the ‘arsh (throne of God) or seat, over and above which the All-gracious has equal hold over everything or kursi, the other aspect of divine knowledge.

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ {186}

And when My servants ask you about Me, then (say unto them), Verily I am nigh, I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he beseeches unto Me, so let them hearken unto Me and believe in Me so they may be led a right. (2:186)

The working of this principle in the mechanism of creation within the purview of His all-embracing knowledge is amazingly just. He knows what every female bears and what the wombs reject and what they (the wombs) increase.

اللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَحْمِلُ كُلُّ أُنْثَىٰ وَمَا تَغِيضُ الْأَرْحَامُ وَمَا تَزْدَادُ ۖ وَكُلُّ شَيْءٍ عِنْدَهُ بِمِقْدَارٍ {8}

God knows what every female bears, and which the wombs fall short (of completion) and in which they (increase). And of everything (there is) with Him a measure. (13:8)

وَإِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا عِنْدَنَا خَزَائِنُهُ وَمَا نُنَزِّلُهُ إِلَّا بِقَدَرٍ مَعْلُومٍ {21}

The ratio is in exact measurement: And there is not a thing but with us are its treasures, and We do not send it down but in a known measure. (15:21)

Female and womb used in this passage should be taken in their widest sense to include the female of females and the womb of wombs, the primal matter, and the mother of all mothers, the bearer and carrier of all potentialities, the receptacle of all forms and stages. The reward of good deeds and the righteousness from your Lord is a gift (for no return) yet it is according to the reckoning. The observation of proportionate ratio here and keeping the balance between the components of a compound, the parts of a whole and the constituents of a society of beings, are some of the various aspects of divine justice with which He describes Himself when He, as the first witness, gives evidence of His Absolute Unity.

شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ ۚ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ {18}

God (Himself) witnesses there is no but He and (so do) the angels and those possessed of knowledge, standing firm for justice: (there is) no god but He, the Mighty, the Wise. (3:18)

To this justice, the Holy prophet refers, “It is by justice (balance) in which the heavens and the earth are standing.

The Journey of Movement – Eternity to Eternity

The conclusion is the process of creation is going on from eternity to eternity without any discontinuity. The things which were not with the Absolute in His essence appear by the creative might of the Creator in two stages. In the first stage they appear in the second phase of His knowledge or the stage of planning, and then they appear through the same agency in the realm of actual existence in complete accord with the pre-planning. The act of creation is going on perpetually. No moment, no duration, no time and point of time, and hin, can be imagined when the creative conscious might was, is or will be idle.

يَسْأَلُهُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ هُوَ فِي شَأْنٍ {29}

Beseech Him all those in the heavens and the earth. Every day he is in a (new) splendorous manifestation. (45:29)

Every day He is in work. But of the matter and material beings (including whatever is in the matter like material energies and material forms, or has developed from the matter, though it became independent afterwards, such as individual selves), there is nothing of which it can be said in which it existed throughout the length of time (dahr). Matter and whatever depends on matter in its existence are in constant change and movement. There is nothing stable and stationary, though, on account of the variety of direction and speed some beings may appear to us or to some other beings as stable and stationary, as the Qur’an says:

وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ ۚ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ ۚ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ {88}

And you will see the mountains which think you firm, solid, pass away the passing of the clouds. It is the work of God Who has made everything firm. Verily he is All-aware of what (all) you do. (27:88)

The material universe which is so prodigiously large which it appears endless and infinite, with all that it includes, is moving and changing in essence and attributes. Nothing material remains the same from one moment to the next. The seeming continuity and unity is due to the continuity and unity of the immediate creative cause, the last link in the chain of causes which ultimately go back to the first cause-uncaused. “Everything is vanishing save His aspects.”

وَلَا تَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَٰهًا آخَرَ ۘ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلَّا وَجْهَهُ ۚ لَهُ الْحُكْمُ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ {88}

And call not with God any other god. There is no god but He. All things are perishable but He. He is the Authority, and unto Him shall you be returned. (28:88)

Whatever is here on the earth is perishing while the glorious and honoured aspect of your Lord remains.

كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ {26}

وَيَبْقَىٰ وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ {27}

Everyone on it shall perish but will remain forever the Face (aspects) of your Lord, the Glorious and Gracious. (55:26 – 27)

مَا عِنْدَكُمْ يَنْفَدُ ۖ وَمَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ بَاقٍ ۗ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّ الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا أَجْرَهُمْ بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ {96}

What(ever) is with you passes away and what is with God is everlasting and certainly We will give those who exercise patience, their return, with the best of what they were doing. (16:96)

وَإِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا عِنْدَنَا خَزَائِنُهُ وَمَا نُنَزِّلُهُ إِلَّا بِقَدَرٍ مَعْلُومٍ {21}

There is not a thing but the treasure and the source of it is with Us and We do not send it down but in fixed measure. (15:21)

In the course of the various movements, the potentialities which are carried by matter are transformed into actualities – what was potential becomes actual. The seed was the potential tree. It had in itself the potentiality of becoming a full-grown tree. But when the seed, the potential tree, becomes the actual tree that particular potentiality is gone out of existence. It is replaced by an actual tree. The actual tree may carry with it potentialities for many more trees like itself. But the tree itself cannot go back to its potential stage to become actual again unless the portion of time during which the previous process took place is brought back, which is evidently impossible. No part of a successive chain can be shifted from its ordinal position.

A specific potentiality, once it becomes actual, either remains actual forever or has to go out of existence forever. Therefore, continuity and survival of any species through propagation of successive issues means the coming into being of new potentialities for new actualities, and not the return of the old potentialities and old actualities. Thus, in the material realm what appears to be repetition of the same stuff is actually the appearance of a similar one and not the same.

Hold of the Absolute One: Immaterial Entities Control Material Realm

The same is true with immaterial entities such as the spirit, soul, psyche and intellect, the conscious beings whose existence is not dependent on matter. If such entities became dependent on matter, after they were independent of it, it would mean the loss of their identity. If the immaterial is transformed into material it means that immaterial entity goes out of existence and something new, of a different identity, comes into existence, one actual has gone and a new potential has come. Therefore, both conceptions (a) the idea of pre-physical existence of the individual souls (the ego to which one refers is “I”) of man and animal, as immaterial and independent conscious entities, and (b) the idea that they become material (dependent on matter) when they join the bodies, should be totally discarded because it means that what body loses its identity when it joins the body, and what remains with the body is a new identity totally different from which was before.

It makes no difference, whether the soul as such is considered to exist independently and immaterially, right from the beginning or after her departure from the body. Once the soul is considered as independent, let it be for a moment, its becoming dependent again means its total loss. So both ideas, i.e. union or reunion of the immaterial entity with the matter (body) are self-contradictory, hence untenable. Any conscious entity which is considered to exist before or after the body, independent of the body shall remain independent. Immaterial entities, whether existing before or after the matter and material realm, may govern and influence bodies but cannot be fettered and governed by the bodies. Accordingly the souls of individuals (man and animal) are either (a) material (dependent on matter, as the materialists hold) throughout their development, and as such perish with the disintegration of the bodies to which they are united, or (b) they (the souls) ought to be considered as material in the early stages of their development, becoming gradually immaterial in the advanced stages, before departure, to some extent, and after departure completely immaterial.

If the individual souls are proved to be immaterial, at any stage during their union with the bodies, there is no alternative but to accept they are the new actualities, developed out of specific potentialities, which were carried by matter. This means development of immaterial entities from matter. Just as in the course of material movement a certain quantity of matter transforms itself into physical energy, such as heat, light, electricity, etc. so also in the course of organic activities and movements of animals, a certain quantity of matter transforms itself into physical force or energy. The difference between the two processes is in the case of material energy. They can be again transformed into matter. While in the case of psychical energy, which has become fetters of matter cannot be bound by it again.

The soul’s becoming free from the fetters of matter means that some specific quantity of matter through the organic activity of an individual is transformed into psychic energy of specific consciousness, distinguishable from the consciousness of other beings (other egos and selves). The specific psychic energy as the ground, specific consciousness, as the form, constitutes the ego or specific psychic entity (individual soul). That specific ego, or soul (nafs), in turn becomes a new ground under the direct hold and control of the agencies of the arc of descent, and therefore is capable of receiving radiation from the arc and reflecting it, (according to its acquire status) without the medium of the matter or any material organ. Having come under the direct hold of the agencies of the arc of descent, the ego for its subsistence depends entirely on the conditions of the immaterial agencies of the arc controlling it and not on the matter or the material ground from which it developed.

The following points should be noted as the sequel to the above argument. (a) Through the organic activities of self-conscious beings, animals and men, and some specific quantities of matter lose their material properties and assume the form of psychic entities, i.e. become immaterial individual souls and selves. (b) They receive the means of their subsistence from the Absolute through immaterial agencies, and no more through the material medium. (c) The change in matter and its conditions does not affect survival of the souls freed from their matter. (d) The quantities of matter developed into immaterial souls and psychic energies are to be taken as detached and deducted from the total quantity of matter and energy which are reducible into each other, because the psychic energy which develops from matter cannot be reduced into matter or material energy again. Therefore, the quantity so developed should be considered as real loss to matter. The matter is destroyed through the development of the souls, hence, matter is destructible.

Balance in the Mechanism of the Material Realm

To balance the total quantities of matter and material energy, so the mechanism of the material universe may continue to function, a new quantity of matter, at least equal to the quantity lost, should be created (in the true sense of creation, Ibada‘), in the sense of “Be, then it is,” (Kun fayakun), which means to produce effect by the sheer force of will and intention not associated with the slightest change in the essence or essential attributes of the cause. The reduction of matter into energy or vice versa, joining of some substance from each or their rejoining, transformation or transference into each other, or changing their reality are not creation in its true sense. This process is necessarily shaping or reshaping what has already existed. On the basis of this argument the individual souls are considered to be material at the time when they come into being and they become immaterial through their gradual development through the organic mechanism.

As has been pointed out the newly created quantity should be at least equal to what was lost. This is the minimum amount required to keep the said mechanism functioning, but in fact the newly created quantity is much greater than the quantity lost, because, along with the loss of quantity of matter, the number of the souls (the psychic entities, the re-radiating intellects) of various natures and groups, is increased.

Grouping of Departed Souls

The Qur’an presents the varieties of the departed souls under three groups – the Foremost, the Rightists and the Leftists (not in the political sense):

فَأَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ {8}

وَأَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ {9}

وَالسَّابِقُونَ السَّابِقُونَ {10}

Then (will be) the people of the Right hand. Oh, what (a happy state shall) the people of the Right hand (be in)! And the people of the Left hand. Ah, what (a wretched state shall) the people of the Left hand (be in). And the Foremost ones (in faith and virtue) shall be the Foremost ones (in receiving their reward). (56:8 – 10)

This refers briefly to the countless sub-divisions of each indicating the degrees and graduations of life in the hereafter are much greater than those of life in this terrestrial region.

انْظُرْ كَيْفَ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ وَلَلْآخِرَةُ أَكْبَرُ دَرَجَاتٍ وَأَكْبَرُ تَفْضِيلًا {21}

Behold (you) how We caused some of them to excel the others, and surely the hereafter is much greater in respect of degrees and greater still in respect of excellence. (17:21)

So, reminding men of the example of development of various shapes and moulds of life in the first material stage (region) which is known to everyone, the Qur’an asserts the same divine authorities will change our moulds and make us appear in the stage or region which is not yet known to us.

عَلَىٰ أَنْ نُبَدِّلَ أَمْثَالَكُمْ وَنُنْشِئَكُمْ فِي مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ {61}

To our changing your forms and raising you in that you know not. (56:61)

The individuals, who are now in this life classed under the category of human beings, shall be regrouped in the life hereafter according to the character which they have formed in their life here. Some are grouped in the various communities of angelical order, some in the satanic communities, and some in the communities of neutral spirits. This is with regard to the souls, developed and departed from this terrestrial region known to us as Earth, which in comparison to the material universe is very minute. It would therefore be absurd to confine development of life and its varieties to what is found in the small portion of this globe – seven miles up in the air and seven miles to the bottom of the sea. According to the Qur’an and the apostolic statements of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt, the observable heavens and the heavenly bodies are also populated with lives and conscious beings of their own. They may differ from the living beings here, according to the variant conditions of the regions.

Continuity in Creation: Rational Approach to the Qur’an and Apostolic Statements

However, in every moment of a certain number of psychic entities and re-radiating intellects of various natures, characters, and groups are developed and dispatched from this terrestrial region of ours or from other regions of the material universe. They do not lose their identity or revert from the acquired status of actuality to the potential status whence they advanced, nor do they remain idle and inert. By having the re-radiating power of specific nature every entity and every group of entities becomes a new specific might, a new conscious dynamic force of specific mould, or cognition and volition. They meet, communicate with, and react to each other on the one hand, and produce new possibilities, new potentialities and new capacities in the matter and the material realms on the other. They influence its movement, extend its spatial dimensions along with its time dimension. They change the course of its movements and its velocity by accelerating or slowing down its momentum. All these take place not haphazardly. These changes are in a well-balanced, proportionate and harmonious ratio as per divine pre-planning.

Thus, He is always creating new heavens and new earths and “making the angels communicators, possessing wings, two, three and four. He increases creation as much as he wills.”

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ جَاعِلِ الْمَلَائِكَةِ رُسُلًا أُولِي أَجْنِحَةٍ مَثْنَىٰ وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ ۚ يَزِيدُ فِي الْخَلْقِ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ {1}

(All) praise is God’s, the Originator of the heavens and the earth, the Maker of the angels, messengers flying on wings, two, and three and four. He adds to His creation whatever He wills. Verily God, over all things has power. (35:1)

It is His authoritative will and might which built heaven and is expanding it now. It is His will and might which spread the earth as the ground (to receive) and He is still preparing it (to receive more).

وَالسَّمَاءَ بَنَيْنَاهَا بِأَيْدٍ وَإِنَّا لَمُوسِعُونَ {47}

وَالْأَرْضَ فَرَشْنَاهَا فَنِعْمَ الْمَاهِدُونَ {48}

And the heaven, We did raise it up with (Our) might, and We it is Who make the vast extent (thereof). And the earth, We did spread it out (like a carpet), how excellent (are We) the Spreaders (thereof). (51:47 – 48)

So through the rise in the number of the re-radiating intellects and immaterial agencies the material world is also expanding and accordingly nothing of the material universe, from its smallest to the largest solar systems, constellations, and galaxies is static or fixed.

وَالشَّمْسُ تَجْرِي لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَهَا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ {38}

And the sun travels unto a resting place fixed for it. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-knowing. (36:38)

لَا الشَّمْسُ يَنْبَغِي لَهَا أَنْ تُدْرِكَ الْقَمَرَ وَلَا اللَّيْلُ سَابِقُ النَّهَارِ ۚ وَكُلٌّ فِي فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ {40}

It is not (expedient) for the sun that it should overtake the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day, and each (of these luminaries) rotate on in (its peculiar) sphere. (36:40)

Everything grows from the simplest primal stage to the full-fledged solar system.

أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا ۖ وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ ۖ أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ {30}

Or see not those who disbelieve in which the heavens and the earth were one piece, and We cleave them asunder, and made We of water everything alive. Will they not then believe? (21:30)

It brings forth all potentialities, of the souls and conscious entities, and then it deteriorates and ultimately disintegrates into the same stage whence it developed: this process is common in all things.

وَإِذَا الْأَرْضُ مُدَّتْ {3}

وَأَلْقَتْ مَا فِيهَا وَتَخَلَّتْ {4}

And when the earth shall be stretched out (flattened). And shall cast forth whatever is in it and becomes empty. (84:3 – 4)

إِذَا زُلْزِلَتِ الْأَرْضُ زِلْزَالَهَا {1}

وَأَخْرَجَتِ الْأَرْضُ أَثْقَالَهَا {2}

When the earth shall quake with her (terrible) quaking. And the earth brings forth her burdens. (99:1 – 2)

God only knows how many earths and heavens have so arisen and deteriorated before our earth and heaven came into being, how many of them are growing up along with ours and how many of them will come into being and resume the same or different course of development after the disintegration of our solar system and advent of our resurrection. Ali says, in these heavenly luminous bodies, stars, there are distant cities connected with columns of light and they are populated with conscious beings, which worship the Creator and do not know anything about our Adam, his creation and his issues. In another statement he points out that before Adam, the first father of the present human race, there was an Adam and similarly before him there was another Adam and so it goes on to God knows how many worlds and Adams. There is no limit to the creative might. Barring a few self-evident concepts and propositions which are apriori categorical mode of thinking, as a gift of the Creator, nothing besides Him is eternal and unchangeable.

In this process of creation, the relation of the material bodies of the souls is like the relation of the womb to the embryo. The extent of the surrounding material world, wherein the souls begin to grow as compared with that of the next world to which the souls proceed is the same as the extent of the embryo compared with the world of matter into which the child enters. The material world which, according to the Qur’an, is the starred sphere, and the lowest of spheres of existence.

إِنَّا زَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِزِينَةٍ الْكَوَاكِبِ {6}

Verily We have adorned the heaven nearest the world (earth) with an adornment, the stars. (37:6)

It may also be presented as a process house for manufacturing souls of different natures and grades, for the immaterial spheres beyond it. According to the Holy Prophet, the material sphere in comparison to the immediate immaterial sphere beyond it is like a small ring thrown in a huge desert. And that sphere has the same relation in comparison to its immediate sphere beyond it, and so on to the Throne and Seat (Arsh and Kursi) which are figurative terms for immaterial spheres encompassing the material, and the intermediary immaterial spheres to the first manifestation of the Absolute. This process house is always subject to partial or total change and expansion, according to the well-planned will of the Creator. Any portion worn out and ceasing productivity will be pounded into powder, thrown away and replaced by a new one. In this way, after disintegration and annihilation of bodies, the resurrection (standing before God) of individuals, groups or the whole of certain systems of the world of matter takes place.

لِيَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ {5}

يَوْمَ يَقُومُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ {6}

For a Mighty day, on the day when humankind shall stand before the Lord of the worlds. (83:5 – 6)

مِنْهَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ وَفِيهَا نُعِيدُكُمْ وَمِنْهَا نُخْرِجُكُمْ تَارَةً أُخْرَىٰ {55}

From it (the earth) We created you and into it will We return you, and out of it will We bring you forth a second time. (22:55)

The above is a brief preliminary attempt towards a rational presentation of certain Qur’anic and apostolic statements which may guide the seeker of truth to have, at least, a faint idea of (1) the creaturely and occasional character of all beings other than the Absolute, (2) the life hereafter, as the development of potential matter into actual form of psychic entity, i.e. development from a “becoming condition” to full active status, from the transitory life in this world to the real and stable life (of the hereafter) in the next world (the eternal home),

وَمَا هَٰذِهِ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا لَهْوٌ وَلَعِبٌ ۚ وَإِنَّ الدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ لَهِيَ الْحَيَوَانُ ۚ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ {64}

And nothing is this life of the world but a vain sport and play, and verily the abode of the hereafter is certainly the life: if they but know. (29:64)

(3) to believe in the partial and the total disintegration and resurrection of the solar systems,

إِذَا الشَّمْسُ كُوِّرَتْ {1}

وَإِذَا النُّجُومُ انْكَدَرَتْ {2}

وَإِذَا الْجِبَالُ سُيِّرَتْ {3}

وَإِذَا الْعِشَارُ عُطِّلَتْ {4}

وَإِذَا الْوُحُوشُ حُشِرَتْ {5}

And when the sun is folded, and when the stars darken, and when the mountains are removed (as scattered dust), and when the “Ishaar” (she-camel) shall be abandoned, and when the wild beasts are herded together. (81:1 – 5)

(f) and the physical resurrection an appearance of souls in bodily form similar to the material bodies,

فَاتَّخَذَتْ مِنْ دُونِهِمْ حِجَابًا فَأَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهَا رُوحَنَا فَتَمَثَّلَ لَهَا بَشَرًا سَوِيًّا {17}

Then she took a veil (to cover herself) from them, and then sent We unto her Our Spirit, then he (the Spirit) appeared unto her a man sound (in form). (19:17)14

(5) the physical ascent of the Holy Prophet,

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ {1}

Glory be to Him Who carried His servant (Apostle Muhammad) by night from the Holy Mosque (of the Ka‘ba) to the Farthest Mosque, which we have blessed its environment in which We may show unto Him of Our signs. Verily, he is the All-hearing, the All-seeing. (17:1)

(6) the appearance of angels, jinns and other higher and lower souls and spirits in physical form here, or their influence on the souls, which are still connected with the material body.

The above presentation explains the Qur’anic truth without getting entangled in the absurdities of transmigration or material resurrection or return of souls to the world of matter in a material body, as fancied by credulous people who cannot think of anything but in terms of matter, which is condemned by the Qur’an as unstable or transitory.

This discourse may appear to have been prolonged by including several side issues. Unless all the points dealt with under the topic “Evolutionary Course” are kept in view, an intelligible idea about the revelation cannot be formed. So let us go back to the highest point of intellectual development of the human mind – the creative intellect.

Creative Intellect: Arc of Descent and Arc of Ascent and Innumerable Spheres

In the previous discourse, it has been outlined in which the cosmos contains spheres of beings, one encompassing the other with no gap between. If the cosmos is viewed from the arc of descent, it begins with the first manifestation and ends with the material sphere. The higher encompasses the lower and the lower manifests the higher. But if it is viewed from the arc of ascent it begins with the lowest and last manifestation (primal matter) or the material sphere, and ends with the creative (active) intellectual sphere. The lower forms the recipient base or potential ground and the higher comes to the scene of existence as a developed and actual form of the lower. The last sphere of the latter arc corresponds to the first sphere of the former arc. The first sphere of the second arc, the primal matter, is the last sphere of the first sphere of the first arc. This is the lowest common base of both the arcs. It is so huge and extensive the greatest mathematician fails to give a proper and exact account of the extent, except by giving as an example the distance between Earth and the nearest galaxy in terms of the light years which represent the speed of light.

It is so huge that, in spite of its geometrically proved finiteness in common presentation of it, one has to treat it as infinite. This huge sphere in comparison to the immediate immaterial sphere beyond it was presented by the Holy Prophet as a ring in the desert. The individual entities developing from this material sphere are under the influence of the cosmic spheres beyond the material sphere. Just as our Earth and its various developments are influenced by the rays and radiation of near and distant stars of the material sphere, so also, the individual members of any cosmic sphere are influenced by other members of the same sphere or the whole, and also by other spheres above or below, and their members. The radiation of the farthest star in the farthest galaxy has its effect on the largest and smallest parts of the Earth despite the waves taking millions of light years to go from one end to the other. In a similar way the radiations of the Earth reach the remotest regions and leave their impression (effect) there.

الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا ۖ مَا تَرَىٰ فِي خَلْقِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ مِنْ تَفَاوُتٍ ۖ فَارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ هَلْ تَرَىٰ مِنْ فُطُورٍ {3}

ثُمَّ ارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ كَرَّتَيْنِ يَنْقَلِبْ إِلَيْكَ الْبَصَرُ خَاسِئًا وَهُوَ حَسِيرٌ {4}

وَلَقَدْ زَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِمَصَابِيحَ وَجَعَلْنَاهَا رُجُومًا لِلشَّيَاطِينِ ۖ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابَ السَّعِيرِ {5}

Who created the seven heavens layer above layer? You see not in the creation of the Beneficent (God) any defect or incongruity. Then look you again. See you any gap? Then repeat your gaze again and again, your gaze shall return unto you dulled, being wearied. Indeed have We adorned the lower heaven with lamps (the stars), and We have made them (as) missiles to repulse away the satans, and We have prepared for them the chastisement of the flaming fire. (67:3 – 5)

Super-conscious Source Revelation – Angelic-Satanic Mixed

Thus, there is an effective exchange of action and reaction and proper communication between every part and particle of each sphere with those of other spheres. But the exchange and its effect may not and need not be left by centres of consciousness, i.e. those of man or animal. All that an average man perceives are certain waves, carried by air or ether, which under certain conditions touch his sensory organs. It is erroneous to confine existence to those objects only, which are perceptible to the centre of human consciousness by sense organs (external senses). It has been proved, for example, that of the sound waves, only those of a certain frequency are perceptible by our organ of hearing and no sound waves below or above the frequency are perceptible to us.

The same is the case with the sight waves. Our sensory organs are limited, conditioned and very narrow. It is wrong to narrow the sphere of existence to the limitations and conditions of our senses. There is abundant proof of the fact that the centre of human consciousness, the cognitive self, sometimes receives information and suggestions and develops inclinations, the sources of which cannot be traced back to any of the direct or indirect sensory channels. As already discussed, these channels connect an individual’s mind with certain specific objects, situated in a particular region of the material sphere and nothing more.

Therefore, for any such information, suggestion or inclination felt by the cognitive self, none of the unconscious, subconscious or conscious strata of the individual self (from elemental and primitive physical stages up to the vegetable and animal instincts and tendencies from the five external senses up to imagination, feelings, memory and the state of reasoning) can be held responsible. Therefore, we have to refer it to some source beyond the conscious state of the human mind – some super-conscious, some super-natural, some unusual source or means – a source and means which is not common and natural with everyone or is common with everyone but is not acquired through empirical means. The information, suggestion or inclination felt by the ego centre through the super-conscious or super-natural means is termed by the Qur’an as revelation.

The regular or irregular action of any visible entity which cannot be explained in terms of empirical means, or any other natural cause is considered by the Qur’an as the result of revelation from some invisible and super-natural source from the unseen world (‘alam-e ghayb) as opposed to the seen world (‘alam-e shahada). It (the revelation) is from God or some angelical sphere if it is right and advantageous and it is from the satanic and evil spirit spheres if it is wrong and mischievous.

The Qur’an has used the term revelation in its widest sense. The Qur’an considers the movements and functions of the Earth and heavens as under the order revealed to them (as they are inspired by Him). It says, about Earth,

بِأَنَّ رَبَّكَ أَوْحَىٰ لَهَا {5}

That your Lord has revealed unto her. (99:5)

About the heavens it says,

He revealed to every heaven its affairs (its concerns).

God says further,

فَقَضَاهُنَّ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ فِي يَوْمَيْنِ وَأَوْحَىٰ فِي كُلِّ سَمَاءٍ أَمْرَهَا ۚ وَزَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِمَصَابِيحَ وَحِفْظًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ {12}

And He made them seven heavens in two days (periods) and revealed in every heaven His will, and adorned We the lower heavens with lights (of the brilliant stars), and made it guarded (with angels). That is the decree of the All-mighty, the All-knowing. (41:12)

The instinctive life of the honeybee is presented by the Qur’an as the result of divine revelation.

وَأَوْحَىٰ رَبُّكَ إِلَى النَّحْلِ أَنِ اتَّخِذِي مِنَ الْجِبَالِ بُيُوتًا وَمِنَ الشَّجَرِ وَمِمَّا يَعْرِشُونَ {68}

And revealed your Lord unto the bee saying, “Make you hives in the mountains and in the trees and in what they (men) build.” (16:68)

Every human soul is inspired by Him with the awareness of vice and virtue (right and wrong).

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا {7}

فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا {8}

By the soul as it is perfected. And inspired unto it (against) its vices and (about) its piety! (91:7 – 8)

The evils of men and jinns, who are opponents of the Prophets reveal to each other vain talk deceitfully.

وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَفِسْقٌ ۗ وَإِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ لَيُوحُونَ إِلَىٰ أَوْلِيَائِهِمْ لِيُجَادِلُوكُمْ ۖ وَإِنْ أَطَعْتُمُوهُمْ إِنَّكُمْ لَمُشْرِكُونَ {121}

And eat you not of which God’s name (Allah) was not mentioned, while verily it was transgression, and verily satans inspire unto their friends in which they should contend with you and if you obey them, verily you be polytheists. (6:121)

The satans15 reveal to their friends (followers) so they may argue against you.

وَذَرُوا ظَاهِرَ الْإِثْمِ وَبَاطِنَهُ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْسِبُونَ الْإِثْمَ سَيُجْزَوْنَ بِمَا كَانُوا يَقْتَرِفُونَ {120}

And leave you open and secret sins. Verily those who earn sin, soon will they be recompensed with what they earned. (6:120)

It was revealed to Musa’s mother to put the newborn in a box and float it in the river.

وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ أُمِّ مُوسَىٰ أَنْ أَرْضِعِيهِ ۖ فَإِذَا خِفْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَأَلْقِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ وَلَا تَخَافِي وَلَا تَحْزَنِي ۖ إِنَّا رَادُّوهُ إِلَيْكِ وَجَاعِلُوهُ مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ {7}

And revealed We unto the mother of Musa, saying, “Give him suck and if you fear for him, launch him on the river, and fear you not, nor grieve you, for We will return him unto you and make him one of the Apostle.” (28:7)

Apart from Prophetic revelations many instances of other revelations and inspirations to individuals, mostly in the state of dreams and abnormal conditions and sometimes in the normal state of awakening are found in the stories of every community of the human race. We term them as super-natural information communicated to the person concerned through unusual (ultra) cosmic rays. Some instances of revelation are very clear and need no interpretations. In some cases the information assumes a figurative form in accordance with the psychological condition of the receiver (the mind that receives it). Such revelation requires interpretation, the correctness of which depends on the skills of the interpreter. Some revelations are partly true and partly false, which may be due to (1) the defect in the source of despatch, or (2) the confusion of two different waves despatched from different sources, but received simultaneously, or (3) a defect in the receiver. Sometimes the suggestions received from the cosmic and super-natural sources are mingled with suggestions received from within, i.e. from the unconscious or subconscious strata of mind, which is the usual source of everybody’s dreams.

Every community has its own record of stories of people who have by some spiritual exercise developed a sort of communication with the unseen within the starred sphere or somehow closely connected with as shall be discussed later. There are also records of people who by peculiar nature and mould or mind have this faculty without any exercise of spiritual practice. There have been men and women who have had the tendency of dreaming future events in real or figurative form without pursuing any special course of spiritual attainments. According to occultism, there are prescribed courses of practice to develop such faculties within the human mind and to establish contact and communication with the super-natural and invisible cosmic agencies. These sources do not require adherence to any prescribed code of ethics or religion.

On the contrary, in some of the occult courses some sort of impurity, immorality or anti-religious practice is necessary for success. This is the reason, why among religious, ethical and scholarly points of view, thought they are very famous in their mysterious practices. The idea here is not to certify the validity of occultism, and the genuineness or truth of the records of theurgists and the claimants of mystical power. It is only to assert the possibility of such practices, and the truth of a few instances given here and there. Otherwise, generally the cases and stories about the performance of occultists and theurgists are mostly false, concocted to the raise childish tricks. However, though few in number, there are genuine cases of the past and present which prove beyond doubt the possibility of such mysterious practices.

In any case, all occult and strange performances, such as fortune-telling, foretelling, palm reading, horoscope, astrology, clairvoyance, mind reading, telepathy, sorcery, witchcraft, establishment of communication with or having influence over jinns celestial spirits or departed souls, mesmerism and hypnotism (accepting the psychological validity and utility of them), spells, incantations, numeral and symbolic letters, etc. are as old as human history. Though mostly false, there is also some truth in them. But they are condemned by the Qur’an and apostolic statements as unreliable as and more harmful than useful.

وَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِمَا مَعَهُمْ نَبَذَ فَرِيقٌ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ وَرَاءَ ظُهُورِهِمْ كَأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ {101}

وَاتَّبَعُوا مَا تَتْلُو الشَّيَاطِينُ عَلَىٰ مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَانَ ۖ وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ وَلَٰكِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ كَفَرُوا يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَارُوتَ وَمَارُوتَ ۚ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلَا تَكْفُرْ ۖ فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنْهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَزَوْجِهِ ۚ وَمَا هُمْ بِضَارِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنْفَعُهُمْ ۚ وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُوا لَمَنِ اشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَاقٍ ۚ وَلَبِئْسَ مَا شَرَوْا بِهِ أَنْفُسَهُمْ ۚ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ {102}

And when there came unto them an Apostle from God confirming what was (already) with them, some of those to whom the scripture was given cast the Book of God behind their backs as if they knew (it) not. They followed what the devils recited (falsely) against Solomon’s kingdom; not that Solomon disbelieved but (it was) the devils which disbelieved. Sorcery did they teach to men and was revealed to the two angels at Babylon, Harut and Marut. Neither of these taught anyone without saying, “We are only a trial so disbelieve not (in the guidance of God).” They learned from them which sows discord between man and wife, but they could harm no one (thereby) but by God’s permission. And they learned what harmed them and profited them not, and indeed they knew he who bought that (art) had not shared in the happiness of the hereafter. And vile was the price for which they did sell their selves, had they only known (it). (2:101 – 102)

It was a mixture of falsehood and truth. Their sources are mostly satanic and super-natural agencies of the lowest sphere (the stellar sphere). The powers of these agencies are limited and defective. These satanic forces have no approach to the higher spheres of angelical order.

So neither the dispatching source in this sphere, or the mind and heart of the person who receives the dispatch is saved from error. The mind, the conscious centre, whether of the dispatcher or of the receiver, influenced by the requirements of life in this sphere, is not free from the impurities of narrow mindedness I (narrowness of the sadr [heart] the Qur’anic figurative term for the seat of love and knowledge, the ego centre).

The impurity of inclination towards material, sensual and sexual objects, makes the recipient narrow and sullen, incapable of receiving the light of truth in its entirety. This narrowness of the ego centre of the dispatcher or receiver, or both, is the cause of mental confusion, the cause of revolt against what is right and true. It is to the mind and heart and of such people, who are attached to this profane world, that according to the Qur’an, Satan has an approach. Such people can be tempted by the satanic influence, but not those whose minds are beyond the reach of the satanic agencies:

فَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ {98}

إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ لَهُ سُلْطَانٌ عَلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ {99}

إِنَّمَا سُلْطَانُهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يَتَوَلَّوْنَهُ وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ بِهِ مُشْرِكُونَ {100}

And when you recite the Qur’an seek you refuge with God from Satan the accursed. Verily there is no authority for him over those who believe and rely on their Lord. Verily his authority is only over those who befriend him and those who associate with him. (16:98 – 100)

The Infallibility of the Last Prophet (the Prophet of Islam) and Other Prophets (Part One)

Therefore, unless the soul (the mind and heart) is free from the influence of this lowest sphere, and is released from the narrow bents of animal instincts and sexual desire and unless the mind is raised to the zenith of creative intellect, it cannot become the ground for receiving the entire light, i.e. the exact and undisturbed information and suggestion dispatched from the undisturbed information and suggestion dispatched from the angelical sphere of higher order. The angelical spheres range from the first immaterial sphere to the highest sphere of direct and immediate communion with the Absolute (the stage of the nearest point): the Prophet, as the Qur’an indicates reached the “nearest point.”

فَكَانَ قَابَ قَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنَىٰ {9}

Thus was (he) the measure between two bows (facing each other) of higher still. (53:9)

These spheres differ from each other in comprehensiveness and in the nature of their dispatches, but there is no possibility of error in whatever the dispatch. “They do not disobey God of what He has ordered them and they do whatever they are ordered.” They do not go ahead of Him in saying (or doing) and they do according to His order.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ عَلَيْهَا مَلَائِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَا يَعْصُونَ اللَّهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ {6}

Oh you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from the fire whose full shall be men and stones, over which shall be angels stern and strong, they disobey not God in what He commands them, and act (only) as they are bidden.” (66:6)

There is no confusion whatsoever in the higher spheres. They are free from all profanities of the material world.

فِي صُحُفٍ مُكَرَّمَةٍ {13}

مَرْفُوعَةٍ مُطَهَّرَةٍ {14}

بِأَيْدِي سَفَرَةٍ {15}

كِرَامٍ بَرَرَةٍ {16}

(It is written) in the Books greatly honoured, exalted high, purified, in the hands of the deputy angels, noble virtuous. (80:13 – 16)

So also must be the receiving station, the human mind which is the recipient. It must be free from the impediments of temporal life and the bondage of the material world. So long as the zenith of the human mind, the intellect, is drawn toward its base, the material and sensual ground, man is liable to commit mistakes in both theory and practice, whatever may be the source of information and suggestion.

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ {175}

وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَاهُ بِهَا وَلَٰكِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ ۚ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ الْكَلْبِ إِنْ تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُكْهُ يَلْهَثْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ فَاقْصُصِ الْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ {176}

Relate unto them the news of him whom We gave Our signs, but he withdrew (himself) from them, so Satan followed him, so he was one of those who went astray. And Had We willed, We would certainly have exalted him thereby, but he inclined towards the earth and followed his vain inclinations, so his similitude is like the parable of a dog, if you attack him he lolls out his tongue, or leave him alone he lolls out is tongue. Such is the similitude of people who belie Our signs, so relate (unto them) the stories, which they may reflect. How evil is the similitude of the people who believe Our signs and unto their own selves they are unjust. (7:175 – 176)

Being in possession of signs man should have been raised. But he detached himself from the sign bestowed on him by God and he was drawn downward toward the Earth. But if the whole edifice of the human mind from the base upward is drawn toward the zenith, i.e. the active intellect, and is totally controlled by it, then the zenith can become a pure refined recipient ground. It becomes capable of receiving light from the above as exactly as it is dispatched. It will be also capable of judging precisely the truth and the value of what is received from below. In short, the pure contents of the worlds of purity cannot be reached but by the pure and purified.

فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِمَوَاقِعِ النُّجُومِ {75}

وَإِنَّهُ لَقَسَمٌ لَوْ تَعْلَمُونَ عَظِيمٌ {76}

إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ {77}

فِي كِتَابٍ مَكْنُونٍ {78}

لَا يَمَسُّهُ إِلَّا الْمُطَهَّرُونَ {79}

But nay! I swear by the setting of the stars, and verily it is a great oath if you only knew it. Verily it is a Qur’an honourable, in a Book hidden. Touch it not save the purified ones, sent down by the Lord of the worlds. (56:75 – 79)

وَالضُّحَىٰ {1}

وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَىٰ {2}

مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ {3}

Those who disbelieved from among the people of the people of the Book and the polytheists could not have separated themselves (from the falsehood) until came unto them the Clear Evidence. (In the) Apostle from God reciting (unto them) the Purified Scripture, wherein are the decrees (correct and) strong. (93:1 – 3)

In essence, no one touches it but those who are purified. To establish direct and infallible contact with the heavenly kingdom and the spheres beyond the material one, the mind should be completely refined and free from the fetters of this material world.

This is what the Qur’an means by the terms muttaharun, purified ones, suhafan muttahira, purified books, mustafaun, chosen and refined, and mukhlisin, servants of God freed from sinning.

إِنَّا أَخْلَصْنَاهُمْ بِخَالِصَةٍ ذِكْرَى الدَّارِ {46}

Verily We freed them (from sinning) with a distinction of remembrance of the (eternal) abode. (38:46)

وَإِنَّهُمْ عِنْدَنَا لَمِنَ الْمُصْطَفَيْنَ الْأَخْيَارِ {47}

Verily they are with Us, of the chosen ones, the good ones. (38:47)

لَىٰ يَوْمِ الْوَقْتِ الْمَعْلُومِ {81}

Save Your servants from among them the freed ones. (38:83)

“We have freed, released them from all concerns but the remembrance of the abode (the heavenly or eternal kingdom).”

It does not mean they are not in this material world in this lowest sphere. They are in it but they are not attached to it. Ali says, “They (the true servants of God) have accompanied this lowest world of matter with their bodies, the souls of which are attached to the spheres of higher order. Had not the fixed term been ordained by God for them (to remain here), their souls would not have remained in their bodies.”16

In other words, the purity of mind as opposed to its impurity (Rijs). It means complete control of the active intellect over the whole structure of mind including its material base on the one hand, and the absolute submission of the active intellect as recipient ground to the spheres of higher order on the other. This is the state of divine revelation.

قُلْ لَا أَقُولُ لَكُمْ عِنْدِي خَزَائِنُ اللَّهِ وَلَا أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ وَلَا أَقُولُ لَكُمْ إِنِّي مَلَكٌ ۖ إِنْ أَتَّبِعُ إِلَّا مَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ ۚ قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الْأَعْمَىٰ وَالْبَصِيرُ ۚ أَفَلَا تَتَفَكَّرُونَ {50}

Say (oh Our Apostle Muhammad), “I do not say unto you that with me are the treasures of God, nor do I know the unseen, nor do I say unto you I am an angel. I follow not but what is revealed unto me.” Say, “Are the bind and the seeing alike. Do you not then reflect? (6:50)

The Holy Prophet’s answer to all the questions raised by anyone: the believers, unbelievers, sceptics, heretics, hypocrites, friends and foes were a divine revelation to unveil the truth.

Thus, the body is controlled and governed by the mind and its faculties. The mind in turn is controlled and governed by the active intellect, which in turn is fully controlled and governed by the divine will dispatched to it, direct, or through the angels. Such an accomplished person, though he shares, with other men all aspects of humanity (a human being like you), yet he is distinguished from the rest of humankind, but not only being the recipient of the revelation but by being controlled also by the revelation.17 (“I follow nothing but what is revealed to me.”)

قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ فَمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا {110}

(And) say you, “I am only a man like you, it is revealed unto me in which your God is but One God, therefore whosoever desires to meet his Lord, let him do good deeds, and associate not any one in the worship of His Lord.” (18:110)

He should be so fully controlled by the divine will dispatched to him, that his life becomes the embodiment of divine will. His will is the will of God.

مَنْ يُطِعِ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدْ أَطَاعَ اللَّهَ ۖ وَمَنْ تَوَلَّىٰ فَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ عَلَيْهِمْ حَفِيظًا {80}

Whoso obeys the Apostle, he indeed obeys God, and whosever turns away: We have not sent you upon them to watch. (4:80)

فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ ۚ وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ رَمَىٰ ۚ وَلِيُبْلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْهُ بَلَاءً حَسَنًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ {17}

So you slew them not but God slew them, and you threw not (the dust) but God threw it, in which He might test the believers by a gracious trial from Him. Verily God is All-hearing, All-knowing. (8:17)

So, to secure the infallibility of the message, the purity and infallibility of both the sources of dispatch, and the receiving mind, is necessary. With regard to the purity of the dispatching side, from God down to the last angelical sphere at its base, there can be no doubt. The question is about the purity of the receiving side – the receiver which is the active intellect, the zenith of the mind. The zenith cannot be pure unless the whole of the mind and its faculties from the base are pure. The purity of mind and its faculties mean harmonious functioning of all the physical and physical parts of mental mechanism towards actualization of the potential intellect and the development of the active intellect. There should be no drawback, from any side of the mechanism. There should be nothing wrong anywhere, even for a moment, in the progressive movement towards attaining the state of active intellect.

Every part of the mechanism should be perfect. Otherwise any drawback anywhere at any stage of the process would mean a fall in the degree of attainment and in the active aspect of the intellect; a fall in the height of the zenith. In other words, the ego should always be alive to its incessant needs and should always look upwards submissively and ask for help.

Seed of Adam and Eve (Part Two)

To secure the purity and infallibility of the mental mechanism in this sense, the purity and infallibility of the material base is necessary. A good seed, properly looked after, brings forth good fruit. The material base of an individual mind is a zenith which has its own base and history of its development. God knows through how many specific stages, or terrestrial wombs, or millions of years it passes until it reaches the stage of the specific protoplasm of the first pair of human species – the day of Adam and Eve. That specific seed, or protoplasm, original clay, dough or paste of humanity, is a specific quantity of matter, and it had obviously the potentiality for the form which it has assumed, the form of original seed or clay of humanity. It was a selected and refined quantity suitable for that form.

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ سُلَالَةٍ مِنْ طِينٍ {12}

And indeed We created man from an extract of clay. (23:12)

It is also obvious in which this particular quantity, in its development did not face any hindrance, otherwise it would not have reached the stage in question. As a general rule, development of any given quantity of matter into any specific form or shape necessarily means the quantity had the potentiality for that particular form and shape, and it had throughout the course all the favourable conditions required for its proper development. And along the way it met with no obstruction, drawback, fall or short-coming. The very fact of the quantity having the specific form implies the presence of all the conditions required. This means (1) divine selection (parallel to what the materialist terms natural selection) of every quantity of matter for a specific course of development, and (2) special care of divine agencies (parallel to the mechanical agencies of Darwinism) to provide the requisite conditions for the completion of the course and guard against any unfavourable mishap damaging the potentiality or causing hindrance in the course of development. This is what the divine attribute of Rububi‘at (Cherishing) implies.

The beginning verses of Chapters 37, 51, 77, and 79 refer to the agencies that take care of the development of the material world and their different functions.

وَالصَّافَّاتِ صَفًّا {1}

By those who range themselves in ranks. (37:1)

وَالذَّارِيَاتِ ذَرْوًا {1}

By the scatters that scatter. (51:1)

وَالْمُرْسَلَاتِ عُرْفًا {1}

By those sent forth with goodness one after another. (77:1)

وَالنَّازِعَاتِ غَرْقًا {1}

By those who drag forth violently. (79:1)

As already pointed out, in the religious terminology, the potentiality carried by every specific quantity of matter for a certain course of development is its inherent demand or prayer for that development. That particular quantity is divinely selected to demand that particular course and form. To provide the requisite conditions and to guard against preventive events is the favourable response of the divine grace and blessing. The humble requisites and the reciprocal generous divine grant forms a scale, a balance, in the progressive development.

However, the particular quantity of matter which had the potential to become man was provided with all favourable conditions, guarded and protected against all mishaps until it reached the state of original clay. It was kept pure (purified) under special will, attention and grace of God throughout the course of its development. And even in the darkest period of its development from the primal matter, the details of which God alone knows, it was kept pure and resplendent against all possible impurities.

It (the particular clay) was a part of the whole (the whole of primal matter) hidden in the darkness of primal matter which is devoid of knowledge and justice and the excellences which these two terms imply. The Qur’an refers to this characteristic:

إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنْسَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا {72}

Verily We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and were afraid thereof, and man undertook it, verily he was (proved) unjust, ignorant. (33:72)

But its incessant prayer, demand for coming out of the dark or its particular potentiality for development (only known to God) with which it was distinguished from the other parts, attracted the special attention, care or grace of God.

Story of Prophet Jonah, Israelites’ Misinterpretation (Part Three)

It is not out of place to quote the celebrated story and prayer of Yunus (Jonah) mentioned in the Qur’an:

وَذَا النُّونِ إِذْ ذَهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَنْ لَنْ نَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَىٰ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَنْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ {87}

فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْغَمِّ ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُنْجِي الْمُؤْمِنِينَ {88}

And remember the man of the whale (Jonah), as he went away (from his people) angrily (due to godly motives). So he was sure We would never bring restraint against him. Then he called in the darkness, “There is no Elah (Resort to God to resort to for help) but You. Praise and glory be Yours. Indeed I was of (the community of) unjust.” Therefore We responded in his favour and relieved him from grief. And in this manner We relieve the believers.” (21:87 – 88).

In chapter 68, the Qur’an says asserts,

فَاصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ وَلَا تَكُنْ كَصَاحِبِ الْحُوتِ إِذْ نَادَىٰ وَهُوَ مَكْظُومٌ {48}

لَوْلَا أَنْ تَدَارَكَهُ نِعْمَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِ لَنُبِذَ بِالْعَرَاءِ وَهُوَ مَذْمُومٌ {49}

فَاجْتَبَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَجَعَلَهُ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ {50}

Wait patiently for the order of your Lord and do not be like the man of the whale as he called (Us) while he was grieved. Had not a bounty from his Lord reached him, he would certainly have been cast forth on the naked shore disgracefully. Then (as the consequence of divine blessing due to his prayer), his Lord selected him and then made him the member of the community of the righteous ones.( 68:48 – 50)

Misguided by the Israelite story connected with Jonah, many commentators and translators misinterpreted the above Qur’anic passage by presenting Yunus (Jonah) as a great sinner. Finding his community heedless to his preaching, he lost his temper. His only follower, the Sober Sage, advised him to be more patient and temperate and to continue his preaching for some time more, but he did not listen to him. He prayed to God to destroy the adamant people. Responding to his prayer, God promised to send down His wrath on the sinners and destroy them. Yunus informed the sage of what was going to happen and asked him to leave the scene of the coming destruction. But the sage declined to run away for his life, leaving the whole community prey to divine wrath. In his wisdom he preferred to remain with the people and meet the coming situation as wisely as possible.

The promised hour approached. The Prophet Yunus was watching and waiting from a great distance. The sage continued warning the people of the approaching calamity, advising them to repent before the opportunity was lost. As the signs of the catastrophe came very close, the people realized the gravity of the situation. Stricken with terror, they rushed penitently to the sage for advice. The sage told them there was no other way to avert the catastrophe decreed by God, but a sincere mass repentance. As conducted by the sage, the mass repentance was performed with utmost sincerity by the entire population, including the male and female, old and young, even the babies and the cattle. God responded to their sincere repentance and prayer with favour. He withheld the decree at the last moment and averted the catastrophe from them, to which the Qur’an refers in chapter 10:

فَلَوْلَا كَانَتْ قَرْيَةٌ آمَنَتْ فَنَفَعَهَا إِيمَانُهَا إِلَّا قَوْمَ يُونُسَ لَمَّا آمَنُوا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمْ عَذَابَ الْخِزْيِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَمَتَّعْنَاهُمْ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ {98}

And why then was there not a town which believed, so its faith should have profited it but the people of Jonah? When they believed We removed from them the torment of ig). nominy in the life of the world and provided them (with comfort to enjoy it) for a fixed while. (10:98)

Then coming to know about the withdrawal of the divine decree and the people had been saved by repentance, Jonah felt hurt, got angry and went away, fancying God can never have a hold on him. As a result of his selfish anger and misconception of the divine might, he was punished by God. Having lost in the balloting,18 he was thrown to the whale and devoured. In the belly of the whale he came to his senses and realized the faults for which he was punished. Then he repented and asked God for release.

Like many of its kind, this story of Israelite origin got much publicity among certain Muslim traditionists who deny the idea (doctrine) of absolute infallibility of the vicegerents of God. But a story like this, if believed, does not only prove the fallibility of the Prophets of Allah but brings them down to a lever lower than that of an ordinary person. The story while making the non-commissioned sage a hero, credited with sobriety, prudence, wisdom, sympathy for this people and firm faith in the mercy of God, presents the commissioned Prophet of God as lacking in all these qualities. It depicts him as short-tempered and selfish. Getting angry with his people for not listening to him, he tries to bring the wrath of God on them. Disappointed for the non-fulfilment of his expectation he gets angry with God and goes away thinking God would have no hold on him!

Reading the story as such, one really feels surprised why Jonah, a man of character, of the sage, the embodiment of virtues, should have been commissioned by God to carry His message to the people? What makes one more surprised or rather suspicious is the traditionists, who recognized Jonah as depicted by the Jews and the Christians, have narrated also a saying of the Holy Prophet to the effect he (the Prophet) should not be considered superior in character to Jonah. If we add similar tales and stories allegedly ascribed to the Holy Prophet and the Prophets before him, the conclusion would be (1) the status of prophet will be little more than of a postman who is only commissioned to deliver letters. He is useful so long as he lives and is of no use when he dies – “Whosoever used to worship Muhammad should know he (Muhammad) has certainly died,” said the first caliph, Abu Bakr, in his first sermon.

(2) He need not be of any character or qualification. He is subject to the influence of all temporal and profane tendencies. (3) Among their followers there may be people, superior to the Prophet’s sagacity and virtues. All their orders need not be obeyed, nor should every step of them be followed. These are the points cherished by every ambitious person who wants to use religion as a means to gain power, be he Jew, Christian, Muslim or a member of any other creed and faith. The main objection raised against the policy and behaviour of the ruling party is their deviation from the letter and spirit of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, the sacred and divinely prescribed code of conduct (the Qur’an, the word of God, as manifested in the life of the Holy Prophet).

لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا {21}

Indeed (there) is for you in the Apostle of God (Muhammad) and excellent pattern (of conduct) for him who hopes in God and the latter day and remembers God much. (33:21)

But once the Prophet is recognized as one not superior to Jonah of the above story, there is no room for the said objection. He himself made errors. How can anybody say the prophet was right and those who assumed the reins after him and adopted a different policy and rules were wrong? An anti-Ahl al-Bayt scholar may say, “The Prophet wanted and nominated Ali to succeed him. But the Qurayshites (as ‘Umar said) did not like what he liked. So they pursued the course they thought was more expedient. Who are we to judge that he was right and they wrong?”

But keeping in mind what has already been explained in light of the Qur’an and sound reasoning, one has to come to the conclusion that without purity and infallibility of the receiving ground, no revelation can be taken as completely right and divine if no margin can be fixed for the divine and the profane states of the receiving mind, and as such the representative status of the Prophets and vicegerents of God would be shaken to the ground.

Therefore, this or other tales and stories which have evolved round the personalities of those who are considered to be commissioned by God to deliver His message to humankind to lead and guide men to the ultimate goal for which they have been created, should be treated as baseless. Stories and traditions may be concocted or distorted by interested parties to support a religio-political cause. The stories which assert the fall, sin or drawback of Adam and Eve and of their worthy children who had to represent God on Earth are against the unequivocal wording of the Qur’an and sound reasoning, and ought to be rejected as false or interpreted in the light and evidence of the two authorities (the Qur’an and reason).

Even the Qur’anic passages which may not appear to be in conformity with the requisite infallibility of the vicegerent of God should be interpreted in the light of the unequivocal passages of the Qur’an and evidence of reason. This story of Jonah may be taken as an example. The Qur’an mentions that he went away angry, but it does not give the cause of anger, whether it was righteous and praise-worthy, or selfish, bad and worthy or condemnation. The Qur’an gives examples of many Prophets and godly people who felt disgusted with the ungodly behaviour of their people and left them in righteous indignation but after undergoing some ordeals they were selected and sent back to guide the people. It is obvious that to interpret the sentence in question (21:86 – 89) in the light of the Qur’an and examples of godly men is more reasonable than reading it in the light of the tale introduced by Jewish converts and the courtiers of the early caliphs, such as Kaab ul Ahbar, Wahab bin Munabbah, etc.

However, the sentence, in the aforesaid verse, is followed by three more sentences wherein the conjunctive particle “Fa” (consequently), denoting one event to be the consequent of the other, has been used, which implies the relation between the events denoted by the sentence is not accidental for which the conjunctive particle “Wa” (and) is appropriate, but it is causal; it is the relation of an antecedent to its consequent. Now let us consider the two versions and their implications.

Jonah in the Light of the Qur’an

“He went away angrily (due to righteous cause). Therefore (as the result of his godly feelings and attempt) he felt certain (and not fancy and conjecture) that We will never (withhold our blessing restraint against him) but bring restraint against him. Therefore, (as the result of his certainty), he called us (like other Prophets even in the darkest hour of trial) in the dark (similar to the case of Ibrahim when he was thrown into the fire), “There is no resort but You. Praise and glory by You. Indeed I was of the (community of the) unjust (and not that I am of them now),” as if he is thanking the Almighty for not leaving him to continue the society of the unjust and for having helped him to detach himself from them, no matter what the trials and temporal sufferings may be. As a result of this virtuous process and successful trial he was relieved, selected and sent back to the people who also, after his departure, felt sorry for their wrongs.

This may be due to the efforts of the sage who was deliberately left behind to warn them of the seriousness of the Prophet’s anger and departure. The result of it was they repented and petitioned God for mercy at the last moment. Had not he been of those who are habituated to pray and praise God he would have been thrown (out of the belly of the whale) on the barren land as a reprobate and would not have been chosen and selected again to lead his people. The term laula, used in 37:43 and in 68:49, meaning had not, were nor or if not, the conditional particle used to affirm presence of one event sequel to the absence of the other or vice versa, has been used in the Qur’an on many occasions concerning the Prophets. It asserts that, had not their prayer received special blessing and grace of God they would have suffered a fall or would have committed a sin. So due to the presence of the desirable condition the undesirable state was absent.

Thus, Jonah being a habitual supplicant detached from the society (company) of the unjust, moving towards Him with utmost certainty and seeking His blessings in all circumstances had no fall or drawback throughout his life. His life like that of all other vicegerents of God is the norm and ideal to be followed by those who want to evolve a godly spiritual life.

A Commentary on the Bible

He went away angrily (because he was hurt by God’s responding to the prayer of the evil-doers). Therefore, he fancied, that We (God) will never have a hold or power on him (71:87), which means sheer denial of God’s might caused by extreme anger). Therefore, he called. This call cannot be considered as the result of his conjecture unnecessary missing links between the antecedent and the consequent to prove that Jonah was a sinner first and then he repented and was relieved and selected for the second time. Accepting his repentance when he was in utter distress there is nothing commendable in the life of Jonah to be adopted as the norm and ideal for spiritual progress. It would have been more advantageous if the Qur’an, instead of Jonah, had made some reference to the virtuous role played by the supposed sage. How can one allow a Prophet of God to conjecture even for a moment in which God has no power or hold on him?

The sentence, “And imagined he never would We straighten him” should be read in light of 65:7 and 89:16.

لِيُنْفِقْ ذُو سَعَةٍ مِنْ سَعَتِهِ ۖ وَمَنْ قُدِرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقُهُ فَلْيُنْفِقْ مِمَّا آتَاهُ اللَّهُ ۚ لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا مَا آتَاهَا ۚ سَيَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ بَعْدَ عُسْرٍ يُسْرًا {7}

Let him with abundance spend of his abundance and he on whom is straightened his subsistence, let him spend of what God has given him, (for) God lays not on any soul a burden save to the extent to which He has given it. God will soon bring about ease after difficulty. (65:7)

وَأَمَّا إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ فَقَدَرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقَهُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّي أَهَانَنِ {16}

But when tries him, and then straightens unto him his sustenance, then he says, “My Lord has disgraced me.” (89:16)

The verses explain the creaturely defect of humankind and God’s infinite mercy. It is evident in the prayers of the Holy Prophet and the Ahl al-Bayt which does not mean they have committed any wrong. This inner meaning is absent in the Jewish version of Jonah which suits many religious heads, hence it is more popular.

*****

The Jewish version cannot be taken as true even in regard to a man of worldly wisdom, how can it be accepted in the case of the vicegerent of God? So the correct reading elucidates the meaning of privation, detachment from social surroundings temporarily, consciousness of creaturely shortcomings, repentance, prayer, urge of progress towards perfect submission to God and God’s infinite mercy.

A reduction of matter to any extent from a commendable quantity is due to a non-recipient condition; otherwise, the gift of God is universal and unrestricted. This non-recipiency is termed in the Qur’an as injustice done by one to one’s self. “We (God) have not done them injustice, but they did it to themselves.”(11:101)

Any individual or group which in comparison to its surroundings is improvable and has the recipient condition may be presented as dissatisfied with the condition of its society seeking detachment from them for betterment. This is what the following Qur’anic expression means.

وَاغْفِرْ لِأَبِي إِنَّهُ كَانَ مِنَ الضَّالِّينَ {86}

And forgive my father; verily he was of those who have gone astray. (26:86)

وَذَا النُّونِ إِذْ ذَهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَنْ لَنْ نَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَىٰ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَنْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ {87}

And (remember) Jonah (Zunnun or Yunus) when he went in anger, and imagined he never would We straighten him. Then he cried out from the darkness, “There is no god but You (oh my Lord), Glory be to You. Verily I was of the unjust ones!” (21:87)

“I was of those straying ones,” means that in certain stages the person referred to by the pronoun was counted among the members of the society which was devoid (or deprived) of justice and knowledge. It is the natural tendency for development present in a particular section of matter and absent in its surrounding sections which is translated into dissatisfaction in the conscious stages of development disliking the surroundings and abandoning them. These conditions, i.e. dissatisfaction and dislike for and desertion from the surroundings, are virtues and righteousness if the aim is to approach God, the Absolute perfection. And they are evil and vice if the aim is something ungodly.

The certainty which He is the sole resort and in no circumstance does He withhold His blessings from His creatures, is the impulse of this progressive move and the motive behind prayer and supplication. Temporal sufferings and material losses in this journey are inevitable as a test and trial.

This trial is followed by divine relief, blessings, and selection for leadership.

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ يُقْتَلُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتٌ ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ وَلَٰكِنْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ {154}

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنْفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ {155}

الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُمْ مُصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ {156}

أُولَٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ {157}

And say not of those who are slain in the path of God in which they are dead. Nay (they are) living, but you perceive not. We will surely test you with something of fear, and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and fruits, and give glad tidings to the patient ones. Who when misfortune befalls them, say, “Verily we are God’s and verily unto Him shall we return.” Those are they on who are the blessings from their Lord and (His) mercy, and they are the ones which are (rightly) guided. (2:154 – 157)

So long as the movement is towards the right direction it is towards God, without any break or diversion. There can be no fall, drawback or sin. The terms sin (dhanb), straying (dal), injustice (zulm), ignorance (jahalat), etc. which show some defect and ungodly condition, may be used to mean appearance of these defects in the conscious stages when human will and reason are functioning and they may also be used to mean these are natural and creaturely defects which accompany every finite being, ad if they are not covered, redressed and redeemed by His grace and blessing, they will display themselves in human conduct.

Similarly, the terms repentance (tauba) and petitioning after some diversion has taken place, or petitioning for mercy after some defect has displayed itself in the conscious stage of human will and reason. It may also mean being constantly alive to the creaturely defects. Some people are in continuous prayer and a supplicating attitude so these defects may continue to be covered by His blessings and no room is left for their display at all. There are instances and occasions on which the Qur’an has used the conditional participle, “if not” (laola) to show it is due to the special blessing of God or due to the sincere prayer of the man which the inherent sin, defect and fault have not displayed themselves.

Thus, “repentance” does not always mean the sin has been committed. It may be preventive instead of being retrievable. Accordingly, the sin and other defects mentioned in the Qur’an and other apostolic statements do not necessarily mean the actual appearance of those defects in the life of man. Reference may be to their potential state wherein they are covered by special blessings of God. Thus the incessant confession of accomplished men of their sins, shortcomings and faults and their incessant repentance and prayer for mercy are the two main factors responsible for their infallibility and sinlessness. Imperfect, sinner and guilty are those who consider themselves either entirely sinless or occasional sinners, and not those who are always alive to their creaturely defects, and pray to God to cover them with His blessings and grace.19

Vicegerency of Adam

Having all these points and the basic conditions for development and progress in view let us revert to the “first human pair,” Adam and Eve. Detached and distinguished from the rest of the material beings, they had infallibly and progressively reached the stage of original clay. It was the finest, purest and the most resplendent quantity of matter which departed from the rest to undergo a special course of trials and developments and to fulfil the necessary conditions for the top rank in the hierarchy of material developments. This clay, the divinely selected and chosen portion of matter, carried in itself all the potentialities for development and propagation of the human race and for all the material and spiritual achievements and attainments which man may be credited with.

The potential Adam and his potential family were craving and praying for such a lofty status of responsibility (amanat) in the realm of creation as was not prayed for by anyone else. On the contrary the heavens, Earth, and mountains declined to accept it when it was offered to them. So, the brave and bold clay received the utmost care and attention from the Creator. The whole administrative agencies of the arc of descent, all the angelical and celestial forces in charge of development were co-ordinated and directed towards this new development. From the stage of clay up to the stage of the most complicated but well-balanced and harmonious organism (the stage of tasviya20 (adjustment of parts in a whole), man had to pass many stages of development. This is the stage wherein man receives radiation direct from the Absolute, and God blows into him His own spirit (Roohul-Qudus).

لَقَدْ أَضَلَّنِي عَنِ الذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَنِي ۗ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِلْإِنْسَانِ خَذُولًا {29}

So when I complete him and breathe into him My spirit, fall you down unto him prostrating (in obeisance). (15:29)

To reach that high stage he (man) had to undergo many bright and dark turnings, ups and downs, unavoidable in this journey. Of the divine days (ay‘yamullah – periods of development)21 how many days he took to cover the distance we do not know. Whatever has been said in this respect by men is a mere guess and conjecture, and if there was any revelation in this connection, it was equivocal and not clear and exact. But one thing is certain that man passed all those stages and curves infallibly under the utmost care of divine administration and attention, otherwise he would not have reached the status which he secured and is still holding: the status of vicegerency of God.

وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَنْ يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ {30}

(Recollect oh Our Apostle Muhammad) when your Lord said unto the angels, “Verily I (intend to) appoint a vicegerent on the Earth.” They said, “Will You (oh our Lord) appoint therein one who will cause mischief and shed blood, while we celebrate by Your praise and hallow You alone?” Said (the Lord of the angels), Verily I know what you know not.” (2:30)

إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنْسَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا {72}

Verily We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and were afraid thereof, and man undertook it. Verily, he was (proved) unjust, ignorant.” (33:72)

God revealed to the administrative agencies of the arc descent, the angels, in which he was going to create a man out of earthen clay and when He would bring him into a well-balanced stage and blow into him His own spirit, they (the angels) should prostrate before him (the man). The same man who has been passing progressively one stage after another under the care and attention of the agencies turned out to be capable of reaching the loftiest stage of receiving direct radiation, light and blessing, leaving all the previous mediums behind. This quantity of matter, in spite of its negligible size carried so great and an important potentiality that not only the entire angelical machinery was engaged for its development but it came under the direct care of God at last. He came under the direct care of God’s two most comprehensive names, al-Zahir (the Apparent) and al-Batin (the Hidden). In other words man was directly attended by both aspects of the creative might of God. This is what the Qur’an terms as the two hands of God, the physical and the spiritual aspects.

قَالَ يَا إِبْلِيسُ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَنْ تَسْجُدَ لِمَا خَلَقْتُ بِيَدَيَّ ۖ أَسْتَكْبَرْتَ أَمْ كُنْتَ مِنَ الْعَالِينَ {75}

Said (God), “Oh Iblis, what prevented you in which you should prostrate in obeisance unto him whom I created with My two hands? Are you proud or are you of the exalted ones?” (38:75)

However honoured with the gift of divine spirit man who was originally administered by the angels, from time immemorial, turned in the last stage to be the real administrator in the sense that he became the ultimate object for creation for which the whole divine organization had been set at work. The angels turned out to be subservient to him. He was the aim and they were the means. When the angels wondered why so much care and attention was being bestowed by the Creator on this negligible clay, they (the angels) were told by Him that He was not only going to create a man out of the clay, but He was going to establish a vicegerency on Earth to represent Him and His kingdom and His sovereignty. This revelation caused the angels great surprise and they raised their objection. They were familiar with the administration of the day of other species very close to that of the human species.

It is said that before the development of human clay or the advent of our Adam and eve, the Earth was populated by semi-men, a species which bore very close affinity to man. But they were lacking in the holy spirit which was infused into man and which was a distinction conferred on him. The species of semi-man had almost been extinguished before the appearance of man on the scene of creation. Those semi-men might have been the degenerated descendents of another Adam who preceded our Father or might have been of another species lower than man but closer to him in physical and mental structure than any of the living species of today. Anyway they were lacking in the distinctive aspect of manhood about which the Qur’an says,

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ {4}

ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ {5}

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ {6}

Indeed We created man in the best structure. Then we reverted him to the lowest of the low, save those who believe and do good deeds, for them shall be recompense incessant. (95:4 – 6)

The words “the best structure” and the “lowest of the low” in the verse refers to man’s best and lowest aspects. Whether the shortcoming or defect in men was due to degeneration or the original lack of specific potentiality makes no difference. Their process of thinking was controlled by vegeto-animal and senso-sexual and beastly tendencies as in the case with the organized barbarism of today, known as modern or material civilization. They were busy in mischievous, destructive activities and bloodshed as depicted in 2:30. The angels, like some scientists of the modern age, could not observe the specific aspect which distinguishes the human clay (protoplasma) from the other species. So they judged man to be of the same mould and behaviour as the semi-men, on the basis of some apparent affinities they found between the two. God rejected the partial and analogical argument of the angels and said, “Verily I know what you do not know.” (Reference 2:30 quoted above).

Adam having the distinctive potentiality and aptitude, was gifted with the holy spirit, which implies all the divine names on the one hand and the names of all created objects, which are the manifestation of the divine names on the other.

وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الْأَسْمَاءَ كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلَائِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنْبِئُونِي بِأَسْمَاءِ هَٰؤُلَاءِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ {31}

قَالُوا سُبْحَانَكَ لَا عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ {32}

قَالَ يَا آدَمُ أَنْبِئْهُمْ بِأَسْمَائِهِمْ ۖ فَلَمَّا أَنْبَأَهُمْ بِأَسْمَائِهِمْ قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُلْ لَكُمْ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ غَيْبَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَأَعْلَمُ مَا تُبْدُونَ وَمَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ {33}

وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ أَبَىٰ وَاسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ {34}

And He taught Adam the names, all of them, and then set them unto the angels and said, “Declare you unto Me the names of these if you be truthful.” They said, “Glory be to You (oh Lord). We have no knowledge save what you have taught us. Verily You (alone) are the All-knowing, the All-wise.” Said He, “Oh Adam, inform you unto them their names.” and when he and informed them unto them their names, said (the Lord) “Said I not unto you verily I know the secrets of the heavens and the Earth and know which you declare and which you conceal?” And when said We unto the angels, “Prostrate you before Adam,” they all prostrated save Iblis, he refrained and was puffed with pride and was turned into one of the disbelievers.” (2:31 – 34).

And the succeeding verses 35 – 39 depict how the pair was driven out of earthly paradise and settled on Earth. The supremacy of Adam in the universe is due to the knowledge of the names of the entities who possess unimaginable radiance of truth.

It is in the light of the holy spirit in which Adam learned every name of the Creator and the creatures, but the names of those accomplished and most perfect entities whose clay, seeds and potentialities were carried by him came into light first, and then through the compact names of those perfect and most comprehensive entities, the other names became evident. They were the names of those “perfect and exalted entities” (‘aleen), the seeds of which Adam was carrying. Owing to the lack of affinity it was not possible for angels to learn the names of those entities except through the medium of Adam who represented them as the carrier of their potentiality and represented God having His spirit with him.

Here the first man, the top entity in the arc of ascent received knowledge directly from God, of the things which the angels did not know. It was the knowledge of the names of certain conscious entities of high order (‘aleen). Those entities were other than angels and jinns. They were the entities whose names could be made known to Adam by God directly and to the angels and other things of lower order through the medium of Adam. They were those who could at one and the same time represent God in all the spheres of creation, and creatures of all spheres before God. They are the entities who due to the highest degree of their recipiency, submissiveness and devotion to the Absolute, have attained the nearest possible stage of direct communion with Him on one side, and due to their utmost paternal affection of love of His creatures come closer and nearer to every being, than the being itself or himself – a stage of ‘aula-bil-mominin, “a greater claim on the selves of the believers,” which refers to the Prophet:

النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَىٰ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ ۖ وَأَزْوَاجُهُ أُمَّهَاتُهُمْ ۗ وَأُولُو الْأَرْحَامِ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلَىٰ بِبَعْضٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُهَاجِرِينَ إِلَّا أَنْ تَفْعَلُوا إِلَىٰ أَوْلِيَائِكُمْ مَعْرُوفًا ۚ كَانَ ذَٰلِكَ فِي الْكِتَابِ مَسْطُورًا {6}

The Prophet (Muhammad) has a greater claim on the believers than they have on their own selves, and his wives are (as) their mothers, and blood-relations have the better claim in respect of one to the other, according to the Book of God, than the (other) believers and the emigrants, save you do some good unto your friends. This in the Book (of God) is prescribed. (33:6)

And the Prophet declared that Ali and the succeeding 11 Imams (and Fatima his daughter) are topmost among the Illiyin in having this great claim on Ummah, and their records are well preserved in the Book (vide Tradition on Ghadir).

كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الْأَبْرَارِ لَفِي عِلِّيِّينَ {18}

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا عِلِّيُّونَ {19}

كِتَابٌ مَرْقُومٌ {20}

يَشْهَدُهُ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ {21}

Nay! The record of the righteous shall be in the Illiyin. And what shall make you know what Illiyin is? (It is) a book written. See it those who are the near ones unto God.” (33: 18 – 21)

They are such selfless entities and their egos are so limitless they have become the reciprocal medium between the Infinite one and the finite beings close to both at one and the same time. They are those who on devotional occasions when completely absorbed in the realization of His greatness, can hear the call of the destitute and go to their rescue without being diverted from the height of their devotional absorption. They are those who give alms when they are in the state of bowing before Him in prayer.22

وَإِذَا نَادَيْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ اتَّخَذُوهَا هُزُوًا وَلَعِبًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ {58}

Verily, verily, your guardian is (none else but) God and His Apostle (Muhammad) and those who believe, those who establish prayer and pay the poor rate, while they be (even) bowing down (in prayer). (5:58)

In short they represent the Creator and the creatures to each other at one and the same time. It is this permanent representative status of Adam and his deserving issues which became the subject of dispute. The “great news” about which they are in dispute:

عَمَّ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ {1}

عَنِ النَّبَإِ الْعَظِيمِ {2}

الَّذِي هُمْ فِيهِ مُخْتَلِفُونَ {3}

Of what ask they one another? Of the great news in which they therein differ. (78:1 – 3)

The dispute about the news was so widespread that even the chiefs of the highest angelical order were involved in it. “Say it is the news, the great from which you turn away. I had no knowledge of the chiefs of the highest (order) when they were disputing.”

قُلْ هُوَ نَبَأٌ عَظِيمٌ {67}

أَنْتُمْ عَنْهُ مُعْرِضُونَ {68}

مَا كَانَ لِيَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ بِالْمَلَإِ الْأَعْلَىٰ إِذْ يَخْتَصِمُونَ {69}

إِنْ يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ إِلَّا أَنَّمَا أَنَا نَذِيرٌ مُبِينٌ {70}

إِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي خَالِقٌ بَشَرًا مِنْ طِينٍ {71}

فَإِذَا سَوَّيْتُهُ وَنَفَخْتُ فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِي فَقَعُوا لَهُ سَاجِدِينَ {72}

فَسَجَدَ الْمَلَائِكَةُ كُلُّهُمْ أَجْمَعُونَ {73}

إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ اسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ {74}

Say you, “It is a message of (great) importance, (and) you are turning away from it. I had no knowledge of the exalted chiefs when they disputed! It is revealed unto me save I am an open warner. Remember when your Lord said unto the angels, “Verily I am about to create man from clay. And When I have completed and have breathed into Him of My spirit, then fall you prostrating in obeisance unto him.” And did fall prostrating in obeisance the angels all together, save Iblis, he was proud and was of the disbelievers. (38:67 – 74)

Even the chiefs of the highest order, the arch angels, on receiving information about the new appointment, questioned its propriety. They doubted his competency in comparison to themselves and dissented. They submitted to and carried out the divine order only when Adam informed them of the precious names which he had learnt from God directly, and which the angels were unaware of until then.

Satanic Activity and Divine Warning

But Satan, the hot and the fiery tempered, who had become the co-opted member of the angelical community on account of the extreme devotion and ascetic attitude he had already displayed, was far from appreciating the distinctive spiritual aspect of the newly earthen make. So he and all the satanic forces at his disposal refused to recognize the representative status of man and this is the case even now. He considered himself and his party, who were able to influence and misguide the purely animal instincts, to be much superior to this new earthly creature (man) also. They are able to influence and dominate, if not Adam and all of his issues, at least the great majority of them who tend more towards their material needs than their heavenly progress.

Thus Satan and his forces failed in the test and were at last exposed for what they really were. They declined to submit, rebelled and were driven out of the angelical order and community down to the earth, the terrestrial field of their activities. Satan and the satanic forces, ever since their banishment from the heavenly field, have remained materialists. They are anti-man and their values are anti-heavenly and anti-spiritual. So, as demanded by Satan, God gave him and his party and his forces freedom of action to approach Adam and his issues.

Taking the terrestrial realm as the testing stage of man to develop his spiritual or material aptitude and inclination, it was necessary the satanic forces should have a free chance of activities in their field on the one hand and man should be warned to be careful not be tempted by the satanic call on the other. So both the satanic activities and the divine warning should continue to go together in order to pave the way for man to prove he is really a man or a common animal in the form of man. The Qur’an declares:

وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ خَيْرٌ لِأَنْفُسِهِمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ لِيَزْدَادُوا إِثْمًا ۚ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ {178}

It is not for God to leave the believers in the state in which you are, until He has distinguished the wicked from the good and it is not for God to acquaint you with the unseen. But God chooses from the Apostles whomsoever He pleases. So you believe then in God and His Apostles, and if you believe and guard yourselves (against evil) then for you is a great reward. (3:178)

These are clearly repeated warnings:

وَلَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيرًا مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنْسِ ۖ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ لَا يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ آذَانٌ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ {179}

Indeed we have created for hell many of the jinn and the men. They have hearts (but) they understand not with them, and they have eyes (but) they see not with them, they have ears (but) they hear not with them, they are like cattle, nay, more astray. These are they, the heedless ones. (7:179)

Satan blames the human beings for following him.

وَقَالَ الشَّيْطَانُ لَمَّا قُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَعَدَكُمْ وَعْدَ الْحَقِّ وَوَعَدْتُكُمْ فَأَخْلَفْتُكُمْ ۖ وَمَا كَانَ لِيَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ إِلَّا أَنْ دَعَوْتُكُمْ فَاسْتَجَبْتُمْ لِي ۖ فَلَا تَلُومُونِي وَلُومُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ ۖ مَا أَنَا بِمُصْرِخِكُمْ وَمَا أَنْتُمْ بِمُصْرِخِيَّ ۖ إِنِّي كَفَرْتُ بِمَا أَشْرَكْتُمُونِ مِنْ قَبْلُ ۗ إِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ {22}

And shall say Satan after the affair is decided, “Verily God promised you the promise of truth and I gave you the promise but failed to keep them to you, and I had no authority over you except I called you and you responded unto me, so blame not but (rather) blame yourselves. I cannot be your aide (now) nor can you be my aide. Verily I disbelieved in your associating with me God from before. Verily the unjust ones, for them shall be a painful chastisement. (14:22)

Sincere action is a test:

أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَنْ يُتْرَكُوا أَنْ يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ {2}

What! Do people imagine they will be left off on (their) saying, “We believe!” And they will not be tried. (29:2)

Allah, the All-mighty, the All-wise knows the hypocrites:

وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ ۖ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ {3}

And indeed We did try those before them, so God certainly knows those who are true, and certainly knows He the liars. (29:3)

The Tree of Total Submission – Paradise Lost

The majority of the children of Adam, according to the degree of their material and temporal inclinations, have been and will be the victims of satanic influence. But Adam, the first vicegerent, was carefully brought up by God from the stage of primal matter to the stage of becoming the divinely declared object of angelical veneration and prostration and his deserving and chosen children, who would establish the hierarchy of the vicegerency, the base of which was Adam, were certainly saved from any possible influence of Satan and satanic forces. The devils may have approached Adam and his chosen issues in the same manner as they approach others, but they were far from being able to influence the chosen ones.

إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ {40}

قَالَ هَٰذَا صِرَاطٌ عَلَيَّ مُسْتَقِيمٌ {41}

إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ إِلَّا مَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ {42}

Save Your (devoted) servants, of them the freed ones. Said He, “This is right way unto Me. Verily (as regards), My (devoted) servants, there is not for you over any authority except the one who follows you, of the deviators.” (15:40 – 42)

Adam was created to be the vicegerent of God on Earth; he was created as the base for the establishment of the hierarchy of the divine vicegerency. He carried in him the seeds, the potentialities of so many perfect men who have achieved wonders in innumerable fields of material and spiritual importance. Each of the deserving descendants has represented God in some aspect, which could not be done by any being other than man. Above all, he carried the seeds, or the light and the resplendent clay of those entities by the knowledge of whose names Adam surpassed the angels and was envied and opposed by Satan. So, such an object of divine care cannot suffer any fall, drawback or shortcoming. He cannot be accused of any sin or fault. He was infallible and must remain infallible until his death, until the precious deposit and the divine responsibility are transferred to one who succeeds him, and so the process should continue until it reaches its final stage of perfection.

يُرِيدُونَ أَنْ يُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَيَأْبَى اللَّهُ إِلَّا أَنْ يُتِمَّ نُورَهُ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ {32}

هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ {33}

Intend they in which they put out the light of God with (the blow of) their mouths, and disdains God save that He perfects His light, though the infidels may detest it. He it is Who sent His Apostle with guidance and the religion of truth, that He may prevail it over all other religions, though the polytheists may detest it. (9:31 – 32)

The above emphatic declaration is repeatedly made in various verses with full freshness and unfathomable depth.

It should continue without break until the total appearance of the most perfect man through whom the legislative will of God in its entirety is not only declared, as it was done by the last Prophet in the shape of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, but is also executed thoroughly throughout the human world, as it will be done by the 12th Imam (al-Mahdi) when he reappears.

Adam was not the end. Adam with all his potential was the beginning of a new system of creation. He and his worthy offspring represented God on Earth. He had to populate the Earth with his issues. He had to bring forth what he was carrying. The potential had to become actual. The toil and hardships were ahead of him. It was not the time for him to rest and enjoy the animal comforts, to eat and drink, and protect himself against the heat of the sun under the shadow of the trees. If these animal comforts were the divine objectives, the other animals were quite enough to serve the purpose. There was no need of adding a new creation to what was already there. The paradise of Adam was not in the shape of eating and drinking.

ذَرْهُمْ يَأْكُلُوا وَيَتَمَتَّعُوا وَيُلْهِهِمُ الْأَمَلُ ۖ فَسَوْفَ يَعْلَمُونَ {3}

Leave them (oh Our Apostle Muhammad) in which they may eat and enjoy themselves and beguiles them the hope, for soon will they know. (15:3)

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُدْخِلُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يَتَمَتَّعُونَ وَيَأْكُلُونَ كَمَا تَأْكُلُ الْأَنْعَامُ وَالنَّارُ مَثْوًى لَهُمْ {12}

Verily God will admit those who believe and do good to the gardens underneath which flow rivers, and those who disbelieve enjoy themselves and eat as the beasts eat, and the fire shall be their abode. (47:12)

Man’s paradise is submission to God and to follow His message and remember Him in pleasure and pain.

وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ {169}

فَرِحِينَ بِمَا آتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ وَيَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَلْحَقُوا بِهِمْ مِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ أَلَّا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ {170}

يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِنِعْمَةٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَفَضْلٍ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ {171}

Rejoicing in what God of His grace has granted them, rejoicing for those who have not yet joined them from behind them, which no fear shall come on them nor shall they grieve. They rejoice in the grace from God and (His) bounty and in fact, God suffers not to be lost the reward of the believers. (As for) those who did respond to the call of God and the Apostle (Muhammad) even after wounds inflicted on them, such of those who do good (to others) and guard (themselves) against evil, shall have a great reward. (3:169 – 171)

So his and his wife’s lodging in the lower paradise of animal comforts to which other animals and Satan also had an approach, was a temporary arrangement for test and trial. The divine order addressed to Adam to live with his wife in paradise enjoying all sorts of food except this tree was in accordance with their animal requirement. The prohibitory order not to go near this tree meant nothing more than showing him that the consequence of going near this tree would be the loss of the lower paradise and the animal comforts. Whatever this tree might have been, something physical or spiritual, actual or symbolical, it was very close to Adam and his wife, but they were ordered not to go near it. This tree was very attractive; one could not help desiring to taste its fruit. It would make the person who would enjoy it realize his nakedness and defects.

According to some apostolic statements it was the clean and refined tree of his chosen offspring. There is another apostolic statement mentioned in the commentary, al-Burham in which the tree was an all-round tree termed by Satan as the tree of perpetuation (shajarat ul-khuld). It was the tree rooted in Adam and Eve, the tree of sexual urge which embraces all other trees mentioned by the commentators. It was the pure tree of total submission to God, for which the jinns and men were created.

This tree of total submission is rooted in entities whose names Adam was taught and whose seeds he was carrying.

أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاءِ {24}

See you not how sets forth God a parable? Of a good word (being) like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) in the heavens. (14:24)

In short, from all internal and external evidence available, it is clear the prohibition was not due to the profaneness of the tree, the prohibition was due to the utmost sanctity of the tree in the sense that once it was approached one had to be always on guard not to do anything to pollute it. It must the pure tree (shajrah Tayyibah), the root of which is well established and its branches have gone to the sky. This is a reference to the Qur’anic parable, which is applicable to any well established system of creation or divine legislation which has the growing faculty. It has been specially applied to the tree like a chain of perfect men, the chain being rooted in the first perfect creature in the arc of descent. The reflection of it is the last and most perfect creature in the arc of ascent. This is the tree the root of which is Muhammad (in its true adjectival sense, “praised one”). So, he is the first one arc and the last in the other, and both are ultimately indentified with each other. This is called Shajrah Tayyibah, the “tree” (15:23 – 26). If the place of its growth is properly guarded against pollution this tree may become the place of manifestation of the divine spirit (Roohul Qudus).

The order to live there (in paradise) and not to go near the attractive and eye opening tree, which was very close to him, was intended to rouse the ambition in man. Under this prohibitory order, let us see what part Satan had to play in this test. Satan’s case was exactly like the team of pretenders of all times and of all types who, by appearing in the garb of faith, piety and knowledge, are classed by the ignorant under the category of people of spiritual accomplishment. Such people may even be raised to the companionship of the Prophets, but by facing some trial, their pretension is exposed and they are debarred just as Satan was debarred. Concealing his fiery and rebellious nature in the garb of extreme devotion and piety, Satan had raised himself to the community of the angels, but failing to stand the test of prostrating before Adam, he exposed himself and was driven out of the angelical order. He had to pursue his rebellious and destructive activities in the material field and influence those who are inclined towards him and his activities.

Before proceeding further it should be borne in mind that the statements of Satan mention in the Qur’an concerning himself, his forces and party, the stand he took against the divine order of prostration, the concession he asked for and his decision after it was granted, his approach to Adam and Eve as a well wisher, his comments on the prohibition, his open announcement that, with the exception of a few purified and chosen ones, he would influence and deceive all the children of Adam, and his blaming ultimately those who followed him and similar statements, are a presentation of the facts which have been playing a very great role in the history of creation, especially in the development of the human mind. Nothing should be considered untrue just because Satan has said it. All he has said is true and should be taken into account.

The only thing is his attitude towards Adam and Eve was hostile and whatever he told them, though true, was not with good intention. He wanted to deceive them but it turned out in favour of their cause. His example was like the example of the hypocrites who would come to the Holy Prophet and would give evidence and say, “We are witnessing in which you are the Prophet (Apostle) of Allah.” God retorts saying,

“God certainly knows you are His Apostle, but God gives evidence and is witnessing the hypocrites are surely liars” (63:1).

Similarly, Satan’s whispering to Adam and Eve in which the forbidden tree was the tree of perpetuation (shajarat ul-Khuld), and it was a kingdom which would never decline and be extinguished (mulk la yabla) was entirely true.

فَوَسْوَسَ إِلَيْهِ الشَّيْطَانُ قَالَ يَا آدَمُ هَلْ أَدُلُّكَ عَلَىٰ شَجَرَةِ الْخُلْدِ وَمُلْكٍ لَا يَبْلَىٰ {120}

But Satan whispered unto him saying, “Oh Adam, shall I guide you unto the tree of eternity and unto a kingdom which decays not?” (20:120)

He was correct in giving the reason for the divine announcement of prohibition. It was true that approach to the tree would have resulted in their becoming angels or attaining perpetuity.

فَوَسْوَسَ لَهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ لِيُبْدِيَ لَهُمَا مَا وُورِيَ عَنْهُمَا مِنْ سَوْآتِهِمَا وَقَالَ مَا نَهَاكُمَا رَبُّكُمَا عَنْ هَٰذِهِ الشَّجَرَةِ إِلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَا مَلَكَيْنِ أَوْ تَكُونَا مِنَ الْخَالِدِينَ {20}

Then whispered Satan evil suggestions unto the two (Adam and Eve) in which he might display unto them what has been kept hidden from them of their shame, and said he, “Forbade not you two your Lord from this tree lest you two may become the immortals?” (7:20)

His only mistake was he thought the purpose of the order was to deprive the pair of the pleasant fruit of the tree while the real purpose of prohibition was to make the pair desire the higher. The great lie in which he uttered was he was their well wisher.

وَقَاسَمَهُمَا إِنِّي لَكُمَا لَمِنَ النَّاصِحِينَ {21}

And he swore unto them both, “Verily I am unto you a sincere adviser.” (7:21)

He was their enemy, but a very short-sighted one. He wanted to see the immediate suffering of the pair caused by the loss of material comfort. He was satisfied with this, and with the idea in which the great majority of their issues would in the future fall in his trap. His short-sightedness could not appreciate the fact that Adam and his chosen issues, who would remain aloof, unaffected by his mischievous activities, though very few in number, would surpass all creatures in excellence and quality. He was far from realizing the ultimate object of creation was the development of excellent qualities and not the multiplication of quantities.

However, Satan had to approach Adam to achieve his aim. The Qur’an describes the satanic method of seducing Adam:

Certainly he (Satan) and his party watch you from the side from where you (Adam) do not see them. Certainly We made Satan’s patrons of those who do not believe. (7:27)

Satan approached Adam though some medium, most probably, through the sexual sense which had just begun to grow. It is said his approach was to influence Eve to persuade Adam to taste this tree, defying God’s prohibition. But really Satan made a fool of himself. He did not know the order was meant only to stir up the pair’s latent desire, the basic impulse of social growth. It was the process wherein Eve had a very important role to play. She represents sex and sexual desire and she is responsible for bringing Adam out of the cell of his individual ego to exchange love and compassion with her who is the other part of Adam.

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ {21}

And of His signs is He created for you from yourselves, mates in which you may dwell (inclined) unto them and caused between you love and compassion. Verily in this are signs for a people who reflect. (30:21)

It is she who is presented in the first verse of Chapter Four:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا {1}

Oh men, take shelter in your Lord Who has created you from a single self and created from it, its pair, and spread from these two, men manifold and women, and fear God, in Whose name you importune one another, and (be mindful) of kinship. Verily God is vigilant over you. (4:1)

As she was made of the same clay of which Adam was made it was from them, both Adam and Eve, in which the multitude of men women were spread out (propagated). Her womb is termed in the Qur’an as rahm, the seat of mercy and kindness, derived from the divine name, ar-Rahman (the All-merciful).

هُوَ الَّذِي يُصَوِّرُكُمْ فِي الْأَرْحَامِ كَيْفَ يَشَاءُ ۚ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ {6}

He it is Who fashioned you in the wombs (of your mothers) as He likes. There is no god but He, the All-mighty, the All-wise. (3:6)

It is by virtue of her womb which blood relationship and affection is reciprocally established. The Qur’an terms this relationship after the womb (rahm) to emphasize the important part which the womb plays in the establishment of physical and mental relationship, and affinity between the members of human society. In this verse the wombs (arham), i.e. blood relatives, are presented aligned with God towards whom men hold each other responsible and whose displeasure should be avoided. It is she who makes man lose the negligible and immediate comforts of irresponsible life and suffer the toil and hardship of fulfilling obligations towards others for the sake of greater and far-reaching pleasure to come. It is said that man owes Eve a lot. It was through her we come out of the animal or lower paradise of ignorance, nakedness, laziness and selfish and material comforts, and it shall be through her chosen daughters like Fatima, the beloved daughter of the Holy Prophet, in which man shall enter the heavenly paradise of knowledge, perfection, peace, and unimaginable social comforts.

إِنَّ الْمُتَّقِينَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ {45}

ادْخُلُوهَا بِسَلَامٍ آمِنِينَ {46}

وَنَزَعْنَا مَا فِي صُدُورِهِمْ مِنْ غِلٍّ إِخْوَانًا عَلَىٰ سُرُرٍ مُتَقَابِلِينَ {47}

لَا يَمَسُّهُمْ فِيهَا نَصَبٌ وَمَا هُمْ مِنْهَا بِمُخْرَجِينَ {48}

نَبِّئْ عِبَادِي أَنِّي أَنَا الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ {49}

Verily the pious ones shall be in the midst of gardens and fountains. (The angels saying unto them), “Enter you therein in peace, secure.” And We will root out whatever rancour be in their hearts, (they shall be) as brothers, on dignified couches, face to face. Shall not touch therein any weariness, nor shall they ever be cast out of it. Announce you (oh Our Prophet Muhammad) unto My servants, verily I am the most Oft-forgiving, the Most Merciful. (15:45 – 49)

It is the growth of the social impulse which makes man alive, not only to his selfish needs but to the needs of others who surround him. This is the sense which widens the limitation of one’s ego, and develops the tendency of sacrifice, i.e. the tendency to give up a limited and immediate gain for a wider and far-reaching interest. However, Satan intended to deceive Eve and through her Adam, by advising them to approach the forbidden tree, as would drive them both out of the state and condition in which he thought they were happy. He did not know of the divine purpose and the device and instrument to achieve it. Blinded by jealousy and enmity, he could not see what progress and attainments were awaiting Adam outside the lower paradise of animal and selfish comfort.

If he could have become aware of the lofty stages of intellectual and spiritual gains ahead of the parents of so many accomplished men, scholars, philosophers, scientists, inventors, discoverers, legislators and others who contributed towards the actualization of human potentialities, and above all the line of the chosen vicegerents of God, he would never have thought of trying to dislodge the pair. On the contrary, he would have done his best to see they remained there forever. It is the case with all the hypocrites who think they are deceiving God, while, really God is deceiving them.

يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَمَا يَخْدَعُونَ إِلَّا أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ {9}

They (intend to) deceive God and those who believe, while they deceive not but themselves, but they perceive (it) not. (2:9)

إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ وَإِذَا قَامُوا إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ قَامُوا كُسَالَىٰ يُرَاءُونَ النَّاسَ وَلَا يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا {142}

Verily the hypocrites strive to deceive God while He is deceiving them, and when they stand up for prayer, they stand up sluggishly (without earnestness). The do it only to be seen by men and they remember not God save a little. (4:142)

As the sixth Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq says, “God prohibited but willed Adam to do it, as God ordered Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, but He willed not the slaughter.” These are called testing orders. He orders just to bring forth the reaction of man to it, otherwise the object of the order is not willed by Him. So it was God who actually provided all the means which would take Adam and Eve towards the tree, just to open their eyes and to make them see their creaturely nakedness and defects, to bring their inherent wants to the centre of their consciousness in order to translate their hitherto natural prayer and demand into conscious and verbal prayer and supplication. In other words, God saw the time was quite appropriate to convert the hitherto natural and non-obligatory life of the world be, his first vicegerent, into the conventional life of obligations and responsibilities.

The time was ripe to make man, who was until then dependent on the products of nature and unaware of his creaturely weakness and defects, to depend on his toil and labour to realize his physical and spiritual needs and then to try and pray to God for protection and help to cover his nakedness not with leaves of trees but with the clothes which God would reveal to him through his industries (but utilizing the physical and mental faculties). Besides, better than the clothes and anything else is the pure garb of piety and godliness to cover their creaturely defects.

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْآتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا ۖ وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىٰ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ {26}

Oh children of Adam! Indeed we have sent down unto you raiment to cover your shame and (for) adornment and the raiment for piety, that is the best. This is one of the signs of god which you may be mindful. (7:26)

Satan thought he had precipitated the fall of the pair by deceiving them:

فَدَلَّاهُمَا بِغُرُورٍ ۚ فَلَمَّا ذَاقَا الشَّجَرَةَ بَدَتْ لَهُمَا سَوْآتُهُمَا وَطَفِقَا يَخْصِفَانِ عَلَيْهِمَا مِنْ وَرَقِ الْجَنَّةِ ۖ وَنَادَاهُمَا رَبُّهُمَا أَلَمْ أَنْهَكُمَا عَنْ تِلْكُمَا الشَّجَرَةِ وَأَقُلْ لَكُمَا إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَكُمَا عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ {22}

Then he instigated them both by deceit so when they tasted (of) the tree their shameful things got displayed unto them and they both began covering themselves with the leaves of the garden, and called out unto them their Lord (saying), “Did I not forbid you two that tree and (did I not) say unto you both that Satan is of you both a declared enemy?” (7:22)

God ordered both Adam and eve to get down to Earth.

وَالَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَاسْتَكْبَرُوا عَنْهَا أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ {36}

But Satan made them slip and drove them out of what they were in, and (whereupon) said We, “Get you down, the one of you an enemy unto the other and there shall be an abode for you on the Earth and provision for a (fixed) time. (2:36)

Satan thought he had prevailed upon them to disobey their Lord: he thought they had gone astray.

فَأَكَلَا مِنْهَا فَبَدَتْ لَهُمَا سَوْآتُهُمَا وَطَفِقَا يَخْصِفَانِ عَلَيْهِمَا مِنْ وَرَقِ الْجَنَّةِ ۚ وَعَصَىٰ آدَمُ رَبَّهُ فَغَوَىٰ {121}

Then they both are of it, so their nakedness appeared unto them and they both began to cover themselves with the leaves of the garden: And Adam acted not (to the advice of) his Lord (deceived by Satan) and went astray. (20:121)

That was the case apparently, but actually there was no real order and command. The prohibitory order and warning about the hostile attitude of Satan was issued by God before the development of the faculty of decision in Adam. So, it was natural that Adam did not take notice of it.

وَلَقَدْ عَهِدْنَا إِلَىٰ آدَمَ مِنْ قَبْلُ فَنَسِيَ وَلَمْ نَجِدْ لَهُ عَزْمًا {115}

And indeed We covenanted unto Adam before, but he forgot, but We did not find in him any intention (to disobey Us). (20:115)

Adam was in paradise which is out of the bound of man’s responsibility, which begins with the appearance of intellectual consciousness and ends with the actualization of all intellectual potential. The end of the lower paradise is the beginning of responsibility and the beginning of the upper and higher paradise is the end of man’s responsibility. By approaching this tree he reached intellectual consciousness, a stage of mental development when man distinguishes right and wrong, since he was no more in paradise. He was out of it and was on Earth, wherein he committed no sin and disobeyed an order. It was on Earth in which he was chosen by God. He turned to Adam and guided him.

ثُمَّ اجْتَبَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ وَهَدَىٰ {122}

Then His Lord chose him and turned unto him (accepting his repentance) and guided him. (20:122)

Before guidance there could be no disobedience. As the eighth Imam Ali al-Rida says, “Adam was not created for Paradise. He was created for Earth wherein he committed no sin. He enters the responsible stage after approaching this tree and with that stage the loss of animal comforts began.” The Qur’an gives glad tidings to those who stand the trial successfully.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ {153}

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ يُقْتَلُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتٌ ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ وَلَٰكِنْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ {154}

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنْفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ {155}

الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُمْ مُصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ {156}

أُولَٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ {157}

Oh you who believe, seek help with patience and prayer. Verily God is with the patient ones. And say not of those who are slain in the path of God in which they are dead. Nay, (they are) living, but you perceive not. We will surely test you with something of fear, and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and fruits, and give glad tidings to the patient ones. Who, when misfortune befalls them, say, “Verily we are God’s and verily unto Him shall we return.” Those are they on who are the blessings from their Lord and (His) mercy, and they are the ones which are (rightly) guided. (2:153 – 157)

Ever since the start of his trial on Earth, he never, even for a moment, turned his face from the divine direction, neither did he divert from the right path, nor did he forget his creaturely defects and lack of knowledge and justice. He was always up and looking far ahead seeing the signs and names of those chosen ones to whom he was the father. These names were the words which he had received from his Lord.

فَتَلَقَّىٰ آدَمُ مِنْ رَبِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ {37}

And received Adam from his Lord (certain) words (of prayer) and God turned unto him (mercifully) (for) verily, He is the Oft-turning (unto mercy), the Most-merciful. (2:37)

Through these words he used to approach God for blessing, grace, and covering of his certainty defects and faults.

In short, the paradise lost was not an exalted place or state of comfort, suitable for man as his permanent abode. On the contrary, the Qur’an asserts it was Earth wherein man had to settle (rest) and enjoy for some time (until Resurrection).

قَالَ اهْبِطُوا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ ۖ وَلَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ {24}

قَالَ فِيهَا تَحْيَوْنَ وَفِيهَا تَمُوتُونَ وَمِنْهَا تُخْرَجُونَ {25}

He said, “Get you down, some of you (being) the enemies of the others, and for you there is on Earth an abode and a provision (of sustenance) for a (fixed) time. (And) said He, “Therein you shall live and therein shall you die, and from it you shall be brought out. (7:24 – 25)

It was on Earth wherein man would live, die and from it be taken out. The paradise to come as described in the Qur’an in several chapters is the ever-lasting abode (darulqarar). It contains all which the souls desire for and the eyes are pleased with. It contains every pleasant thing from the sensual objects up to the greatest and highest spiritual enjoyment, the pleasure of God (ridwan min Allah) and His presence (‘inda rabbihim).

وَسَارِعُوا إِلَىٰ مَغْفِرَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ {133}

And hasten unto (the means to obtain) forgiveness from your Lord and paradise vast as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious ones. (3:133)

أَفَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَ اللَّهِ كَمَنْ بَاءَ بِسَخَطٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَمَأْوَاهُ جَهَنَّمُ ۚ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ {162}

Is then he who abides by the pleasure of God, like him who has brought on himself the wrath from God, and whose abode shall be Hell? What an evil destination (it is). (3:162)

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَمَسَاكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فِي جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ ۚ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ {72}

God has promised to the believer men and the believer women gardens underneath which flow rivers, to abide in them and the excellent mansions in the gardens of “Adn.” But the goodwill of God is the greatest: That is the grand achievement. (9:72)

The permanent abode of man is the paradise of perfection, the paradise of one’s realization of his perfections. For those who would follow the divine guidance there is no spiritual loss. They will gain the higher paradise. Of course, for those who fail to follow the divine guidance there is no spiritual loss. They will gain the higher paradise. Of course, for those who fail to follow the guidance, it is a great loss. They are deprived of both the animal comforts, the paradise lost and higher paradise to come.

وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَنْ ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنْكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَىٰ {124}

And whoever turns away from my monition, verily his shall be a life straightened, and We shall raise him up on the Day of Judgment, blind. (20:124)

وَلَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيرًا مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنْسِ ۖ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ لَا يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ آذَانٌ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ {179}

Indeed we have created for hell many of the jinn and the men, they have hearts (but) they understand not with them, and they have eyes (but) they see not with them, and they have ears (but) they hear not with them. They are like cattle, nay, more astray. These are they, the heedless ones. (7:179)

Adam Settled on Earth

The few terms such as “but came not nigh this tree,” (la taqraba); “let him not drive you both out of the garden,” (fala yakara-jannakuma); “but he forgot” (fala tansa), etc. used in the Qur’an dealing with the story of Adam and Eve and Satan may, in the first instance, seem to assert the fall and sin of the pair, but on taking all the Qur’anic and apostolic evidences into consideration there is not the slightest doubt there terms do not mean what some schools of thought may believe. All these terms have been used against Adam when dealing with the stage when he had not entered the life of responsibility. They mean nothing more than what a father would tell his child, “Be satisfied with the comforts which I have provided you with and do not go after attaining a higher position. If you do this you will lose the physical comfort and have to suffer hardship.”

This is said because the father wants to prepare the child for the loss of the present comfort in order to gain a better state of mind. Thus being driven out of paradise was not really a loss and fall for Adam and Eve, except in the eyes of Satan and his party. Actually it was a sort of transfer from a natural life and condition to a rational status. It was a shift from the irresponsible state to a responsible one. The term habut used in this connection does not necessarily mean descent from a height. It may mean to settle down. When the children of Israel expressed their dissatisfaction with the nomadic and wandering life they were ordered to settle down in a city so they may get what they asked for.

وَإِذْ قُلْتُمْ يَا مُوسَىٰ لَنْ نَصْبِرَ عَلَىٰ طَعَامٍ وَاحِدٍ فَادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُخْرِجْ لَنَا مِمَّا تُنْبِتُ الْأَرْضُ مِنْ بَقْلِهَا وَقِثَّائِهَا وَفُومِهَا وَعَدَسِهَا وَبَصَلِهَا ۖ قَالَ أَتَسْتَبْدِلُونَ الَّذِي هُوَ أَدْنَىٰ بِالَّذِي هُوَ خَيْرٌ ۚ اهْبِطُوا مِصْرًا فَإِنَّ لَكُمْ مَا سَأَلْتُمْ ۗ وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ وَالْمَسْكَنَةُ وَبَاءُوا بِغَضَبٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ النَّبِيِّينَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ بِمَا عَصَوْا وَكَانُوا يَعْتَدُونَ {61}

And (remember you) when you said, “Oh Moses never can we (always) endure one kind of food, so pray you unto your Lord for us to produce for us of what the earth grows, its herbs, and cucumbers, its garlic, lentils, and onions!” Said he, “Seek you to exchange which is inferior for which is superior? Go you down to (settle into) some town and there you shall have what you ask for!” And humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they drew unto themselves the wrath of God. This because they used to reject the signs of God and slay His Apostles unjustly, this because they disobeyed and were wont to transgress. (2:61)

Therefore, Adam’s settling down (habut) was not a fall or the original sin as presented by the Jewish, Christian and some Muslim schools of thought. It was really a progressive move, a rise from the animal state of life to the human state. The advent of the pair on Earth was the beginning of human civilization. Accordingly, human civilization begins with “appointment” of the vicegerent of God on Earth. First comes the Imam (leader), the centre, and then the other parts of a society come into being. According to this view the first pair from whom the human race has developed were sinless and free from all sorts of falls, faults, or drawbacks. From this state of primal matter up to the last stage of their development they passed through the wombs and loins of nature or the natural stages – well protected by God, and from the conscious stage until the end they remained obedient and submissive to His will.

The same is the case with all the chosen issues of Adam and Eve. They have passed from the “exalted loins” (aslab-ish-shamikhat) to the “purified wombs” (arham-il-mubhira).23 God waved their resplendent clay and light from being polluted by the vices of the days of ignorance.24 The pagan days could not cover and stain that refined clay and light. Even Satan realized he had no chance of diverting Adam and all of his issues from the right path. Some of them, though few in number, would always follow the prescribed path. So Satan challenged God that he would certainly sever most of Adam’s issues from him (Adam) or from the right path.

قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَكَ هَٰذَا الَّذِي كَرَّمْتَ عَلَيَّ لَئِنْ أَخَّرْتَنِ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لَأَحْتَنِكَنَّ ذُرِّيَّتَهُ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا {62}

قَالَ اذْهَبْ فَمَنْ تَبِعَكَ مِنْهُمْ فَإِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ جَزَاؤُكُمْ جَزَاءً مَوْفُورًا {63}

وَاسْتَفْزِزْ مَنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ مِنْهُمْ بِصَوْتِكَ وَأَجْلِبْ عَلَيْهِمْ بِخَيْلِكَ وَرَجِلِكَ وَشَارِكْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ وَعِدْهُمْ ۚ وَمَا يَعِدُهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ إِلَّا غُرُورًا {64}

إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِرَبِّكَ وَكِيلًا {65}

He (Iblis) said, “See You, (this) is (the creature) whom You have honoured above me? If you respite me until the Day of Judgment, I will sever his posterity under my sway from its origin save a few.” Said He God, “Begone! But whosoever of them follows you, then verily hell is your recompense, a recompense in full! And tear you away whomsoever of them you can with your voice and collect (against) them you cavalry and infantry, and partake with them in (their) riches and (their) children, and make promises unto them.” And Satan promises them only to deceive. “Verily (as for) My (own) servants, you shall not have over them any authority and suffices you Lord (as their) Guardian.” (17:62 – 65)

Despising the satanic domination over the majority of Adam’s issues, God’s answer to the challenge was, “He (Satan) may do whatever he likes with the offspring of Adam who would follow him, but he shall never have any influence over the real servants of God.” God is the saviour who saves those worthy persons from satanic influence. And by saving them, most of Adam’s issues have been saved in the end. The Qur’an asserts Adam and the “few” of his issues, which include Noah, the family of Ibrahim including the family of Muhammad, and the family of Imran are “chosen” (mastafaun) and beyond Satan’s influence. They form the chain of divine vicegerency on Earth.

They are in communion with the higher spheres, and the infallible receivers or form the recipient ground for the divine will dispatched to the material plane. They represent and reflect His will in its entirety to humankind. Consequently, those who follow them and try to adhere to their cause and leadership will be saved. As the result of the safety of Adam and the “selected few” of his issues, the truth and righteousness shall ultimately prevail in the world and falsehood, wickedness and all other Satanic forces will be defeated, over-powered and thrown into hell.

قُلْ جَاءَ الْحَقُّ وَمَا يُبْدِئُ الْبَاطِلُ وَمَا يُعِيدُ {49}

Say you, “The truth has come and falsehood neither brings forth anything nor does it reproduce. (34:49)

The end is good because the beginning was good. This means the doctrine of intercession, i.e. Shifa‘t.

Christian and Jewish Conception of Infallibility

The doctrine of Adam’s original sin and fall and the other obnoxious stories of the Prophet’s sins form the fundamental basis of Christian theology. Some of the Muslim traditionists and theologians who are accustomed to following the footsteps of the Jews and Christians in adopting many of their doctrines such as the uncreatedness25 of the Qur’an (the word of God), etc. insisted on the fall of Adam and sins of other Prophets and did not like to make even the Prophet of Islam an exception.

To accuse Adam and the celebrated Prophets and vicegerents of God who succeeded Adam and one another, of sin and being influenced by satanic forces means either (a) denial of the authoritative and divine representative status of these persons, or (b) recognition of the same status for all those claimants of communion with the higher spheres, whose fallibility is evidently proved. In either of these cases the establishment of an authentic and authoritative communication between man and God becomes impossible. The apostolic statements based on communication with the angels or God, and the philosophic assertions based on pure reasoning or conjectural and hypothetical propositions, all becoming of the same value, subject to error, falsehood and thus unreliable and unauthentic.

Such a state of affairs would undermine the foundation of all religions as all the Prophets say need not be from “Above” and even all which is revealed to them from “Above” need not be entirely true. Hence, the revelation would then become conditional with the state of the receiving mind which is subject to satanic influence. The result, accordingly, would be neither all the revelations are exactly true, nor all the truths are exactly revealed.

We have already pointed out the actual motive and background for evolving the view of the “fallibility” of the vicegerents of God. The point to be noted here is the Christian theologians, while accepting the Jewish reports of the sins and wrong deeds of the Prophets, try to present Jesus, upon whom be peace, as sinless, free from all human faults and drawbacks. Hence, he (Jesus) is considered by them as the true representative or manifestation of God, the incarnated Word, the Son, the Third Person in the Trinity or God Himself. Considered sinless and free from all faults, he is presented as the only saviour and redeemer for humankind. He, the person of such standard of perfection, can only represent God and be an intercessor and a medium between God and man. They agree it is only the infallible person who can hold such a status.

But the question is: how do they reconcile (a) the fall and original sin of Adam, (b) the sins and obnoxious life of Jesus’ ancestral chain (the life of David with the wife of Oria, mother of Solomon and Nathan), and (c) the life of Jesus himself as given in the Bible as a “wine-bibber,” of “loose conduct,” and “harsh to his mother, relatives and non-Israelites,” besides his being from the “seed and the fruit of the loins of David.” Therefore, he is like all other men, the descendants of the same sinful fathers and fallible people. Even if the contradictory genealogy of Jesus, through Joseph, the husband of Mary, given by Matthew and Luke is dismissed as totally incorrect and what the Qur’an asserts, namely that Jesus was born of the “Virgin” and she never met a man before nor after the birth of Jesus is accepted, there remains the fact that the mother (Mary) was the descendant of those sinful fathers.

The Bible insists Jesus of Nazareth was the descendant of David, whose advent, as foretold by the scriptures, was expected by the Jews. So he cannot be the real “son of God” in body and spirit to remain aloof from the fall and faults of Adam and the chain of his issues who link up Mary with Adam. He must be from the seed of David. Otherwise, the whole prophecy of the scriptures falls apart. All they can claim from Jesus is he was an adopted “son of God” and the real son of Adam. One inherits the character of the natural father more than of the adoptive father. If it is possible for them to claim total transformation of body and soul into “Divine Nature” for one issue of the sinful man, it can be claimed for others, too.

In short, it is not possible for Christians to have it both ways, to consider Adam and David and the forefathers of Jesus as sinners and still hold Jesus perfectly infallible. If once we believe in the fall and fallibility of Adam none of his descendants can be accepted as infallible. To believe all the Prophets from Adam up to Jesus made sins and make Jesus of the seed of David an exception is unreasonable.

The Christians wanted to monopolize the Divine representative status of Jesus of Nazareth, so they held all men as sinners save Jesus. The Jews and some of the Muslim theologians wanted to profane the status so they may be able to claim it for fallible people of their own choice. They held prophethood so cheap a gift even the ill-tempered people, who passed most of their life in practicing the worst forms of pagan cults, could be entitled to it. Even insane men can establish direct communion with the higher sphere and become saints, if not Prophets, according to them. They applied such terms as Muhaddas (inspired), Vali (in close contact with God), Qiddis (saint), and consecrated one, too many people of no spiritual accomplishment.

These are the things wanted by the people, and a group of the People of the Book, but the truth never allows the wishes of people:

وَإِنَّ لَكُمْ فِي الْأَنْعَامِ لَعِبْرَةً ۖ نُسْقِيكُمْ مِمَّا فِي بُطُونِهَا وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَنَافِعُ كَثِيرَةٌ وَمِنْهَا تَأْكُلُونَ {21}

And should the Truth follow their vain inclinations certainly will perish the heavens and the earth and all those who are therein. (23:71)

The Qur’an declares Adam as God’s chosen vicegerent on Earth, due to his superiority in certain knowledge and to his being in the best of “mould and form.” He was brought up as infallible by God and lived on Earth a pure and virtuous life. He followed His will and order incessantly with no drawback at all until his departure from earth, then he was succeeded by this chosen son, Shees, who live a godly life as his father had done.

The Continuity of Infallibility (Part Four)

The chain of the chosen ones, keeping their purity unstained and carrying further potentialities to the next, succeeded each other. Some appeared with the brilliance while others remained in obscurity, but the chain was continuous. It continued, as it ought to, in a particular line of Adam’s offspring. The chain had Noah as its outshining link after Shees. But the interval between the two does not mean any break or gap. It means only the links in between remained in obscurity, so far as our knowledge is concerned.

وَرُسُلًا قَدْ قَصَصْنَاهُمْ عَلَيْكَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَرُسُلًا لَمْ نَقْصُصْهُمْ عَلَيْكَ ۚ وَكَلَّمَ اللَّهُ مُوسَىٰ تَكْلِيمًا {164}

And apostles We have (already) mentioned unto thee before and Apostles We mentioned not unto you and God spoke unto Moses, directly discoursing. (4:164)

Between Noah and Ibrahim, only God knows how many vicegerents of limited jurisdiction were branched off and went out preaching the truth to every nook and cranny of Earth, as the human race began to spread out.

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ ۖ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ هَدَى اللَّهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلَالَةُ ۚ فَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانْظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ {36}

And indeed raised We in every nation an Apostle (of Ours) (preaching), “Worship your God (only), and shun you (the worship of every kind of) idol,” so of them were some whom God guided, and of them were others on whom error was confirmed. Therefore, travel you on Earth, then see what has been the end of the beliers. (16:36)

But the main stem continued progressing until it outshone with the advent of Ibrahim, the holy and venerated father of the two chosen and blessed branches, propagated from his chosen sons, Isma‘il (Ishmael) and Ishaq (Isaac). The latter branch (of Ishaq) began to outshine immediately after Ibrahim with Ishaq and after him with the successive Prophets and vicegerents of his descendants, some very prominent in outlook while others obscure and less known to the people until it ended with the most outshining Prophet Jesus, son of Maryam, the carrier of the Divine Spirit (ruh Allah). He was succeeded by his chosen disciple Sham‘un (Simon Peter), after whom the chain of the true successors of Jesus is not very clear to us. But the Christians gave prominence to Paul, even in preference to Simon Peter. They recognize Paul as the supreme father and founder of the Church next to Jesus. Next to Paul comes the chain of the Church fathers who recognize Paul as the true inspired adopted disciple of Jesus.

Jesus nominated and declared Peter as his successor, terming him as the rock on which he (Jesus) would build his church. Paul was then one of the staunch Jews who opposed the Christian movement during the lifetime of Jesus as well as afterwards. His sudden conversion with great enthusiasm for the new religion and the extraordinary dexterity he displayed in enhancing the new cause eclipsed Peter, the true successor of Jesus. Paul’s broad esoterical interpretation of the Old Testament and the fragmentary teachings of Jesus attracted Roman gentiles and non-Jews. He differed from Peter and tried to depart from the rigid boundaries of racial Judaism, so he became popular. His heretical interpretations were gradually recognized as orthodox and the original Jewish orthodoxical presentation of Jesus’ teachings became heresy and heterodoxy. In short the true and genuine teachings of Jesus and his true successors remained almost in obscurity while Paulian thoughts and movement began to introduce themselves as the true teachings of Jesus.

Paulianism or Paulian Christianity in comparison to what was held by the early Hebrew Proselytes as genuine is a departure from the original teachings for the sake of convenience. It was a particular course of thought and interpretation adopted by Paul and his school. So it was natural that in the course of time and circumstances it would adopt various directions of development which would be decided by one or a number of people who would exercise authority. Christianity today with all its sects, sectarian views, and various churches owes its development to the decisions and resolutions taken from time to time by men in power, the religious authorities for the time being in the shape of individuals on councils, and ecclesiastical bodies.

Apart from the Qur’an, all that is known about the life and teachings of Jesus is of Pauline origin rooted in the Four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, Revelations, or the Visions of John. There are discrepancies in these works and there were different editions of two Gospels’ authors are in doubt and the sources of their information are not historical. Two of them, Mark and Luke, were not eye-witnesses. They wrote what they heard and were inclined to believe. Regarding the other two, Matthew and John, the authors of the first and last Gospels, it is, as shall be seen presently, doubtful whether they were the real disciples of Jesus.

However, though very few in number and historically very obscure, a group of Christians continued to adhere to the original teachings of Jesus. Their version of the life and teachings of Jesus was very different from the four canonical Gospels, each of which differs from the other in several particulars. Of those collections some were written by the immediate disciples of Jesus who were eyewitnesses, such as Barnabas and Matthew. It was doubtful if the present Gospel of Matthew is his real work or was partially or totally written by someone else. The four Gospels in hand and the Acts, Epistles and Visions were canonized and declared authentic by the ecclesiastical councils of the Pauline schools long after they were written. It was the view and decision of the councils of a particular school of Christianity in which the Four Gospels were canonized made authoritative, and the rest declared as apocryphal (doubtful).

Thus the authenticity of the four or the doubtfulness of the rest is not based on any historical scrutiny. Whether the original work of Matthew was in Hebrew or in Greek is also a matter of doubt. Some hold the view the apocryphal Gospel of Ebeonites, the early Jewish proselytes (Jewish Christians) was the original work of Matthew. Some say Matthew wrote originally in Greek. Others think it was Luke, the physician of Antioch, the author of the third Gospel and Acts who rendered Mathew’s Hebrew work into the Greek language. As already stated, Mark and Luke were not eyewitnesses and they wrote what they had heard from others; so the last in order and latest in the date of composition is quite doubtful.

Christian Prediction of the Holy Prophet of Islam

There is, however, no doubt in which a group of Christian monks and hermits of the early days remained detached from the Pauline school and which formed the main group of Christianity. They had their own Gospel and life story of Jesus and his teachings and considered themselves the true followers of Jesus. They were firm believers in the unity of God and the prophethood of Jesus. They abhorred the Trinity and divinity of Jesus and did not believe in his crucifixion and physical resurrection, which are the fundamental articles of the Pauline faith. They usually had their monasteries and hermitages in Arabia and its surroundings. They, like many Jewish priests and rabbis of those regions, expected the coming of a prophet of Isma‘ilite descent. That the advent of such a prophet was generally expected is clear from the celebrated story of Bahyra26 the Christian monk of Busra (in Syria) who met the Holy Prophet, when as a boy of eight years he accompanied his uncle, Abu Talib, to Syria and other similar anecdotes which refer to the expectation of the advent of Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace.

Upon seeing the Prophet these monks realized in him all the prophecies they knew and they intimated their knowledge to his uncle. There were people who believed firmly in which the time for the advent of the promised Prophet was approaching. Hearing these prophecies from the pious and well-informed monks, people like Selman, set out towards Arabia in search of the Prophet leaving his home and comfort in Iran.

The eager expectants were looking towards Mount Furan, and were making themselves acquainted with the House of Hashim. As the Qur’an asserts and history describes, these were learned Jews, Christians and even Magians and people of other creeds, who, according to their scriptures, were expecting the advent of Muhammad, upon whom be peace.

Leaving the Israelite branch, let us go back to the other branch of Ibrahim’s descent, which comes forth through Isma‘il, the oldest son of Ibrahim by the Holy Hajar. As per divine order, Isma‘il, the newborn baby and his mother, Hajar, were taken by Ibrahim to the barren hillside and valley of Faran, the Bacca of the Qur’an, the barren valley surrounding the sacred House of God, with the sole purpose of establishing a universal centre for humankind to pray and express total submission to God.

رَبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنْتُ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِنْدَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِنَ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُمْ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ {37}

Oh our Lord, verily I have used a part of my offspring in a valley uncultivable, nigh unto Your Holy House, our Lord, in which they may establish prayer, so make You the hearts of some of the people year unto them, and provide them with fruits in which they may be grateful. (14:37)

The House of God was ordered by Him to be purified by the father, Ibrahim and his son Isma‘il for all devotees, and for all sorts of devotion, for those who go round the House in obedience, for those who stand in prayer and for those who bow down and prostrate in obeisance.

This holy place belongs to all alike, the inhabitants as well as those who come from abroad. The father and the son were ordered by God to call people to come for pilgrimage from places far remote and by all means of transportation:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَيَصُدُّونَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ الَّذِي جَعَلْنَاهُ لِلنَّاسِ سَوَاءً الْعَاكِفُ فِيهِ وَالْبَادِ ۚ وَمَنْ يُرِدْ فِيهِ بِإِلْحَادٍ بِظُلْمٍ نُذِقْهُ مِنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ {25}

Verily those who disbelieve and obstruct (people) from the way of God and from the Sacred House (Masjidul-Haram) which We have made alike for the dweller therein as well as the stranger, and whoever does intend to wrong therein unjustly, We shall make him taste a grievous chastisement. (22:25)

وَإِذْ بَوَّأْنَا لِإِبْرَاهِيمَ مَكَانَ الْبَيْتِ أَنْ لَا تُشْرِكْ بِي شَيْئًا وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ {26}

وَأَذِّنْ فِي النَّاسِ بِالْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًا وَعَلَىٰ كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِنْ كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ {27}

And (remember oh Our Apostle Muhammad) when We fixed for Ibrahim the place for the House, (saying), “Associate you not with Me aught, and cleanse My House for those who make the circuits and stand in prayer, and bow and prostrate themselves (unto me). And Proclaim you unto the people of the Pilgrimage (Hajj)! They will come unto you on foot and on lean camel, coming from every remote (high) way.” (22:26 – 27)

God consoled Ibrahim and assured him He has blessed Isma‘il as He blessed his brother Ishaq, that He would raise a Prophet from among the descendants of Isma‘il and would put His word into the mouth of the Prophet to come, who would rule the people with an iron rod and vigour. Through him and for his sake Isma‘il’s issue would prosper and flourish throughout the world and Isma‘il would be blessed with 12 princes who would be of his descent. This version is in complete accord with the Old and New Testament, and it is almost confirmed by the Qur’an.

Islam

According to the Qur’an, Islam, i.e. submission of the human will to the Will of God, is the religion approved by God for humankind and is in accord with his nature and the mould in which man was created.

فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا ۚ فِطْرَتَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ {30}

Then set you your face uprightly for the (right) religion, in natural devotion to the truth (following) the nature caused by God in which He has made the people. No change can there be (by anyone else) in the creation of God. (30:30)

The perpetuity of Islam has been established by all Prophets and divine guides, known or unknown, in all ages.

وَعِيسَىٰ وَالنَّبِيُّونَ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ {84}

وَمَنْ يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَنْ يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ {85}

كَيْفَ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ قَوْمًا كَفَرُوا بَعْدَ إِيمَانِهِمْ وَشَهِدُوا أَنَّ الرَّسُولَ حَقٌّ وَجَاءَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ {86}

Say (oh Our Apostle Muhammad) (unto the people), “We believe in God, and in what has been sent down to us, and what has been sent down to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac and Jacob, and the tribes, and in what was given to Moses, and Jews and the Prophets from their Lord, we make no difference between any of them, and we unto Him are Muslims.” And whosoever seeks any religion other than Islam (total resignation unto God) never shall it accepted from him, and in the next world he shall be among the losers. How shall God guide a people who disbelieved after their (once) believing and after they had borne witness in which the Apostle (Muhammad) was true, and clear evidence had come unto them, and God guides not people (who are) unjust. (3:84 – 86)

Opposite to Islam in this sense is a deviation of man’s will from the legislative will of God and submission to influence of any ungodly force. This is what the Qur’an terms as baghi (revolt or rebellion). Islam is the established religion with which Adam was sent to Earth.

قُلْنَا اهْبِطُوا مِنْهَا جَمِيعًا ۖ فَإِمَّا يَأْتِيَنَّكُمْ مِنِّي هُدًى فَمَنْ تَبِعَ هُدَايَ فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ {38}

Said We (then), “Get down you therefrom all together and when there comes from Me unto you a guidance, and whoso follows My guidance, no fear shall come on them, nor shall they grieve. (2:38)

And as the vicegerency of Adam continued, Islam, the approved religion of God, also continued. Sabeanism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and even the term Muhammadanism, all limited terms used mostly by men for their convenience, or if they are ever used in some revelation they are meant to show a particular or specific aspect of the universal religion, connected with a particular time or place. Otherwise, these terms are very limited in their baptismal significance with which the religion of God should not be coloured. Islam is Sibghatallah (God’s colour), or the baptismal water, the best with which every being is originally baptized, purified, coloured , or moulded. According to a Prophetic hadith, “Every child is born according to the original design after which man was made (i.e. Islam or submission to His Will). It is the parental education which remoulded or reshapes the child as a Jew, Christian or Magian.”

The limited baptisms are artificial and manmade colours. The divine recognition of these religions within their limited jurisdiction of time and place was due to the fact they were preached by the Prophets of the times and places who represented the will of God locally. They could be termed as Islam of that jurisdiction. But Islam, with which Ibrahim was commissioned to preach and recommended his children (issues) to adhere to, was in its comprehensive mould. It was Islam in its universal form not stressing on any exclusive aspect, ritual or spiritual. The one-sidedness of Moses’ teachings stressing on the ritual aspects of religion and the one-sidedness of Jesus’ teachings, stressing on the moral and spiritual and religious maladies which were prevailing in their respective periods of time at particular places.

According to the Qur’an, Ibrahim, after receiving the status of Imamate (leadership or vicegerency), prayed to God in which his Imamate be continued in some of his issues. Responding to his prayer, God disqualified the unjust and the wrongdoers for the status of Imamate (5:124). After building the House of God at Bacca (Mecca) with the help of Isma‘il, Ibrahim again prayed to God to keep himself, Isma‘il, and of their issues a group (the term used is Ummat which is applicable even to one person), in complete submission to His Will, to show himself, Isma‘il and those of his issues who submit to God the rites which they should observe and the right path they should follow and to always bestow on them all His attention and special care.

Ibrahim’s further prayer was, “Oh our Lord, send out of them (in the Ummat-e Muslima, (i.e. the submissive group of the issues of Isma‘il) a Prophet (a messenger from among them, the same Ummat-eMuslimah) to recite for them the signs of God and to teach them the Book and wisdom.”

Ibrahim made this tawalla (submissive attitude towards the Creator) and tabarrah (rejection of all other deities or all other ungodly forces) a permanent motto for his offspring. If verses 2:124 – 140, 8:35 – 41, 22:77 – 78 and all the verses in chapters 23, 26, 28 are read together, one will have no doubt that according to the Qur’an (a) from Isma‘il to our Prophet the chain of Ummat-e Muslimah continued without interruption, (b) each link in the Ummat-e Muslimah was inspired by God to adhere to the right path and rituals. The Qur’an mentions the prayer of Ibrahim as follows, “Oh our Lord, show us the rites which we have to perform.” The pronoun “us” refers to Ibrahim, Isma‘il and their “Muslim” progeny, which means all were inspired. To this fact, arana (show us), Ali refers in detail in his sermon,27 and (c) the Prophet was sent in the Ummat-e Muslimah and he was one from among them.

Purity of Lineage of Prophet Muhammad and the Declaration of Abu Talib

In other words, the Qur’an asserts the lineage between Isma‘il and Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household) consisting of the selected Muslims in the true sense of the term and not in the sense of mere utterance of the confessional formula. This also confirms the celebrated statement of the Holy Prophet in which God has brought him down from the loins of Adam in such a lineage that every link of it was a chosen and selected one. To consider anyone in this lineage to be a non-Muslim is to depart from what the Qur’an asserts. So granting the historical account of the lives of the ancestors of the Holy Prophet between Isma‘il and Hashim is obscure, nevertheless on the authority of the Qur’an we have to maintain the purity of the chain from which the Holy Prophet has descended.

This Qur’anic assertion is supported by the logical argument already advanced in which it is necessary that the main argument already advanced, it is necessary the main stem from Adam to Isma‘il and from Isma‘il to the Holy Prophet should be true Muslims, otherwise the continuity of the divine vicegerency would have been disturbed. What was the faith and creed of the margins and branches, it is not necessary to determine here. We would have stopped here with Abdullah and Amina, the parents of Muhammad, if the vicegerency had stopped with Muhammad and had not continued after him. But the Qur’an says Muhammad is not abtar (unproductive, chapter 108), without selected offspring to inherit the Book, the wisdom and the great kingdom given by God to Al-e Ibrahim.

أَمْ يَحْسُدُونَ النَّاسَ عَلَىٰ مَا آتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ ۖ فَقَدْ آتَيْنَا آلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَآتَيْنَاهُمْ مُلْكًا عَظِيمًا {54}

Or do they envy the people for what God has given them of His grace, but indeed We have given to Ibrahim’s children the Book and the wisdom and We gave them a great kingdom. (4:54)

وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ هُوَ الْحَقُّ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِعِبَادِهِ لَخَبِيرٌ بَصِيرٌ {31}

ثُمَّ أَوْرَثْنَا الْكِتَابَ الَّذِينَ اصْطَفَيْنَا مِنْ عِبَادِنَا ۖ فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُمْ مُقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَاتِ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَضْلُ الْكَبِيرُ {32}

Certainly We have given the inheritance of the Book (Qur’an) after Muhammad to the same servants of Ours whom We have already selected, of whom some are unjust to themselves and some are fairly good, and of them some are, by the will of God the foremost and topmost in all that is good. (35:31 – 32)

This means the chain of the Ummat-e Muslimah or selected people of Isma‘il’s descent was still to continue after the Holy Prophet. The Prophet’s issues, to inherit the Book, were through none but Fatima, daughter of the Prophet, and Ali. It is through Muhammad and Ali, of the House of Ibrahim, in which the Imamate of Ibrahim in its final form should continue. So the parental purity required for Muhammad is equally required for Ali. Muhammad is from Abdulla and Aminah. Ali is from Abu Talib and Fatima bint Asad (daughter of Asad). Abdullah and Abu Talib are two brothers from the same father Abdul Muttalib and the same mother. That was (if the report is true) the significance of Abu Talib’s last declaration in the presence of Abu Jahl and other opponents of Islam in which he was adhering to the religion of his father and grandfathers (the ancestral chain). He meant to declare that, not only himself but the whole chain between him and Ibrahim had been adherents of the same faith to which the Qur’an refers.

وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ ۚ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ ۚ مِلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۚ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَفِي هَٰذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ ۚ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ ۖ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَىٰ وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ {78}

And fight (endeavour) you in (the way of) God as it behoves you to fight (endeavour) for Him. He has chosen you and has laid not upon you any hardship in religion, the faith of your father Ibrahim. He (God Himself) named you Muslims before and in this, and the Apostle may be a witness over you and you be witness over the people, so establish your prayer and pay you the poor-rate and hold you fast by God. He is your Master – how excellent the Master and how excellent the Helper! (22:78)

This declaration of Abu Talib should be read in the light of the amazing devotion which he as a chivalrous successor of Abdul Muttalib should to his young orphan nephew. He devoted himself with all that was at his disposal – men, children and property – for the protection of Muhammad against his opponents, to certifying to the truth and righteousness of his mission and to the promotion of his cause. In his action, attitude and eloquent speeches, in prose or poetry, Abu Talib expresses his devotional love for Ahmad (the Holy Prophet) to the extent he would sacrifice himself and all the members of his family young and old, in order to defend Ahmad and his cause. One may wonder in which the undisputed vehement zeal of Abu Talib to protect Muhammad and his mission on the one hand, and considering his (i.e. Abu Talib’s) own attitude and reaction towards the new movement on the other, one would wonder whether it was Abu Talib’s love for Muhammad which made him protect his mission and cause or was it his love for the mission itself and the unchallengeable truth of the cause, which inspired him to protect Muhammad?

A deep study of Abu Talib’s actions, attitude and utterances and the Prophet’s reverence for his devoted uncle, however, proves beyond doubt that to Abu Talib, Muhammad and his cause, Islam, are “one inseparable unit.” They together were the fullest and final embodiment of all which was brought, preached and practiced by the chosen chain of the vicegerents of God from Adam to Ibrahim and from Ibrahim to Jesus in one line and from Ibrahim to Muhammad in the other line. Abu Talib said expressly he and his predecessors were far from believing in or doing or supporting what was wrong.

He declared he sided with Muhammad because he never told a lie, but was true and right in whatever he said or did and if it was otherwise he (Abu Talib) and the members of the family who were with him, were far from paying attention to what was false and wrong. He presents Muhammad as the shining and auspicious face, whose grace brings down rain from the sky. He presents him also as the protector of the orphans and the shelter for widows. He considers him as the criterion of truth which never mistakes and as the measuring authority of justice whose measurement never fails.

He considers Muhammad as the one who had been commissioned by the Lord of all creatures to preach religion in its thoroughness unmingled with falsehood. The declaration of Abu Talib in the presence of Abu Jahl and other Qurayshites to the effect he was the adherent of the religion of his ancestors has been quoted frequently by the anti-Ahl al-Bayt party as proof of his remaining a non-Muslim throughout his life. The party fails to read this statement in the light of other statements of Abu Talib mentioned above. They ignore these statements and overlook his service to the cause of Islam. The antagonists are determined to consider Abu Talib and the other members of his house only from the point of view of the Umayyad rulers. This party fails to read while in power did its best from the early days of Islam to depict the first and foremost supporter of Islam and his house in a manner that pleased their masters.

Otherwise, in view of all the historical evidence in hand if they were not prejudiced and were really impartial they would have realized Abu Talib’s firm stand for his nephew was due to no other motive than the deep-rooted admiration for truth, justice and godliness. Abu Talib believed Muhammad was the complete expression and thorough manifestation of all the godly virtues with which Ibrahim, Isma‘il and the chain of their descendants had been endowed. His declaration meant to show that not only himself, but the whole of the ancestral chain were the forerunners of Muhammad, and Muhammad was the total fulfilment of their expectations and complete manifestation of the truth and righteousness, which they all were standing for. The only argument advanced by the pro-Umayyad party in support of their view against Abu Talib is that despite all his devotion and support to the prophet and admiration for his stand, he did not publicly utter the confessional formula of the faith while Abu Sufyan and his kin uttered the confessional formula.

But Abu Sufyan and his kin continued their oppression and hostility to the Prophet and his cause, though outwardly they accepted Islam. Also, they were declared Muslims by the pro-Umayyads simply because of a verbal confession. So, according to the pro-Umayyad party the verbal confession, though lacking sincerity, takes Abu Sufyan to heaven, and the sincere devotion and services of Abu Talib, the first protector of Islam and its founder, seemingly lacking confession, takes to the verge of hell (which is intended for unbelievers and hypocrites). In other words, Abu Talib, like Hazkeel,28 the Mo’min-e al-e Fira‘un (believers in God and Prophet Moses), concealed his faith in Islam to be able to protect and defend the Holy Prophet against the ill designs of Abu Sufyan and his associates (the Pharaohs of Quraysh) deserve hell, but Abu Sufyan, who lie the hypocrites mentioned in the Qur’an 63:1 – 4:

إِذَا جَاءَكَ الْمُنَافِقُونَ قَالُوا نَشْهَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ وَاللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَكَاذِبُونَ {1}

اتَّخَذُوا أَيْمَانَهُمْ جُنَّةً فَصَدُّوا عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ سَاءَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ {2}

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ آمَنُوا ثُمَّ كَفَرُوا فَطُبِعَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ فَهُمْ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ {3}

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَهُمْ تُعْجِبُكَ أَجْسَامُهُمْ ۖ وَإِنْ يَقُولُوا تَسْمَعْ لِقَوْلِهِمْ ۖ كَأَنَّهُمْ خُشُبٌ مُسَنَّدَةٌ ۖ يَحْسَبُونَ كُلَّ صَيْحَةٍ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ هُمُ الْعَدُوُّ فَاحْذَرْهُمْ ۚ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ ۖ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ {4}

When came unto you the hypocrites, they said, “We bear witness that verily you are the Apostle of God,” and verily God knows you (oh Muhammad) are certainly His Apostle, and verily God bears witness in which the hypocrites are certainly the liars. They make their oaths a shield, thus they obstruct (others) from the way of God. Verily evil is what they are wont to do. This is because they believe, then (again) disbelieve they, so a seal has been set upon their hearts, so they understand not. When you see them, marvel you their bodies, and if they speak, you listen unto their speech, (they are) as if they were blocks of wood propped up in garments, deem they every cry is against them. They are the enemy (of yours), so beware you of them! May God annihilate them, whence do they deviate. (63:1 – 4)

confessed faith verbally after complete defeat only to save his neck against the sword of Islam, deserves heaven! To such prejudiced minds no amount of argument, be it based on reason, the Qur’an, Sunnah or historical facts will be of any avail. They have been educated and brought up to think in this manner. It paid them support and pleased the party in power against the persecuted ones. This perverse judgment is not confined to the cause of Abu Talib and Abu Sufyan but extends to Ali and the Ahl al-Bayt also. They ignore all the facts of history, the assertion of the Qur’an and declarations of the prophet, which prove beyond doubt that Ali, the son of Abu Talib, is next to the Prophet and Ali and identity of their ideology and their mould of mind about which the Prophet, in conformity with the Qur’an declared on several occasions that “Ali is from me and I am from Ali,” of “Ali is of me and I am of him” (aliun minni and ana min ho).

The shining truth in the splendid character of Ali, identical with the Holy Prophet in blood and achievements based on the Qur’an and revelational reason urged Bukhari, the distinguished Sunni traditionist to devote one chapter on the genuineness of the statement. Overlooking all the incomparable virtues with which none but Ali is credited, they argue that after all Ali was one of the numerous companions of the prophet. To them all the companions are virtuous and guiding stars, and Mo‘awiya, the son of Abu Sufyan, despite all his drawbacks and vices (before and after coming into the fold of Islam) being one of the companions of the Prophet, was virtuous and a guiding star. They say he, like Ali and other companions, was a Mujtahid (an authority in religious affairs and problems).

As such he had the right to apply his mind to the problems facing him and to differ from Ali and others. They ignore his vices and subversive activities against Islam and the House of the prophet as mistakes committed by an authority and expert in the application of the general rule to particular cases. Some of the pro-Umayyads try to justify even his most horrible crimes as an appropriate step taken by him because he considered it necessary in the interest of the kingdom. Thus, they raised Mo‘awiyah to the status of a companion of the Prophet, as defined by them, i.e. a virtuous and guiding star, and brought Ali down from the status of the Ahl al-Bayt and from his spiritual union with the Prophet to the level of mere companionship and aligned him with the son of Abu Sufyan and people of his type. The adherents of this school of thought deliberately ignore the declaration of the prophet in which he is the city of knowledge and Ali the door of that city.

They overlook what the Qur’an says about some of the companions of the Prophet, “Of them (the companions) who listen to you (Prophet Muhammad), some are of the type that when they go away from your presence, they ask those who are gifted with knowledge, ‘what did he (the Prophet) say a few minutes before.’” They are the people whose hearts have been sealed by God and they are following their own desires (inclinations). And those who have availed of the guidance, He (God) increased guidance and he gave them the power to guard themselves against evil.

وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَسْتَمِعُ إِلَيْكَ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا خَرَجُوا مِنْ عِنْدِكَ قَالُوا لِلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ مَاذَا قَالَ آنِفًا ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَاتَّبَعُوا أَهْوَاءَهُمْ {16}

وَالَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا زَادَهُمْ هُدًى وَآتَاهُمْ تَقْوَاهُمْ {17}

And of them are those who seek to listen to you until when they go forth from you say unto those who have gained the knowledge, “What was it he said just now?” These are they on whose hearts has God set a seal, and follow them their vain desires. And those who avail of the guidance, He adds to His guidance unto them, and grants them their guard (against evil). (47:16 – 17)

In spite of these verses, they evolved the view that all those who confessed Islam verbally and saw the Prophet and heard something from him wee all the Sahabah (companions), and all the companions were virtuous, guiding stars and Mujtahids having the right to apply their mind to religious affairs and decide according to their discretion. According to them the companions will have double reward from God if their opinions are correct and if their opinion turns out to be wrong, they will have a single reward. On this basis, which is against reason, the Qur’an and the statements of the Holy Prophet, they hold the view all the controversies which took place after the Prophet’s demise until the tragedy of Karbala, between the companions or even between the disciples of the companions (tabi‘in) were based on ijtihad (the opinion of an expert), who whether right or wrong, was not to be blamed.

They justify the dislocation of Ali and other members of the House of the Prophet from the holy status which the Qur’an and Sunnah have accorded for them. They viewed the ill-treatment of the Ahl al-Bayt by the parties in power as the natural consequence of ijtihad. Some of them even consider the assassin of Ali (who was not a companion of Prophet) as a mujtahid whom God will reward. But it is surprising they do not give the same concession to the murderers of ‘Uthman, though many companions were involved in that murder. Some of them go further and hold the embodiment of cruelty and vices, Yazid, the son Mo‘awiyah, a rightful ruler and consider him and his lieutenants and army who took part in the tragedy of Karbala as mujtahids. They even hesitate to say which of the conflicting mujtahids were right and which side was wrong, and the tone of their apologetic arguments in favour of the opponents of the Ahl al-Bayt betray that they are inclined to hold the Ahl al-Bayt and their partisans more blameworthy than their opponents.

In order to justify the misdeeds of the ruling parties as Kata-e Ijtihadi (permissible error in judgment by an expert) they try to prove even the Prophet as well as previous Prophets were subject to error and they committed sins and mistakes. The result is all the chiefs of the Quraysh who have done wrong to Islam and the Ahl al-Bayt, all those who displeased the Prophet in his lifetime and opposed and hurt Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain, after the Prophet’s demise, are considered authorities on religion and worthy of reward from God.

However, this is not the place for discussing all the controversial matters which resulted in the development of numerous sects in Islam and caused bloodshed and horrible heart rending crimes committed by one sect against the other throughout the history of Islam. We have referred to the above controversy only to show the political background of Abu Talib being considered as an unbeliever by certain schools of thought in Islam forms, according to those schools, the main criterion for acceptance or rejection of the reports of the Holy Prophet’s sayings and statements (ahadith). They cherish and celebrate any report which pleased in some way or the other the rulers of the early period of Islam and was directly or indirectly against the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt.

Ibn-e Kathir, the commentator and historian of the same school, tried to prove Hussain was superior to Yazid merely because he (Hussain) could be counted among the companions of the Prophet as defined by his school. This he considered a great favour done to the Ahl al-Bayt. But his attempt was not to defend the status of Hussain against Yazid, it was to save Mo‘awiyah’s stand against Ali. Their view about Abu Talib should be examined in the light of the stand they have taken against members of the Ahl al-Bayt throughout the history of Islam. The Holy Prophet said he was leaving two inseparable precious things, the Qur’an and the Ahl al-Bayt, which if adhered to, would save his followers from going astray. It means the nature of every problem and the character of every Muslim should be judged in accordance with the degree of its nearness or his conformity with these two fundamental criteria for right and wrong, truth and falsehood. The Muslim majority, however, perverted the position. They began to judge the Qur’an and the Ahl al-Bayt by the verdict of the people of no religious status who are subject to error, and were even openly mischievous. For example, instead of telling on Ja‘far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq, the sixth Imam of the House, for determining the reliability or otherwise of the chain of reliable reporters of the statements of the Holy Prophet, some of the traditionists of the pro-Umayyad school try to doubt him on the authority of people like Yahya ibn Moin and ibn Habban whose knowledge, competency and piety cannot be relied upon.

Rahamatin lil-‘alimin (Mercy to all the worlds)

Let us, however, go back to trace the chain of the issues of Isma‘il (Ummat-e Muslimah) whom God promised to bless and for whom Ibrahim prayed to god to keep them away from the evils of paganism and make them submissive to His will. After Isma‘il the branch began to propagate and prosper, but the lineage carrying the most perfect vicegerent of God was progressing in obscurity until the birth of Hashim whence the lineage began to outshine gradually. Hashim and his son Abdul Muttalib began to display the character, heritage, rituals and etiquette of Ibrahim. They began to outshine as the firm adherents and followers of the venerable and Holy Father of the House. Their lives clearly showed they observed all the commandments of Ibrahim and protected his faith of which they were custodians.

But they were just the forerunners. The light to shine and illuminate the world was still to come. Hashim, whom his grandson Abu Talib eulogized for his generosity, clemency and sympathetic affection for the oppressed, needy and poor people, began to indicate the light he was carrying was not for the illumination of a partial region, tribe, or race only and it was not inclined only towards the west as does Judaism or towards the east as does Christianity. It was “neither of the east nor of the west.” It was to illuminate the whole universe and he (Hashim) represented the Absolute One to whom belongs all which could be termed east and west. The light which Hashim was carrying was the All-Gracious Light (Ramatin lil’’alimin), the blessed light intended for all the worlds.

It was the light prophesized as the “Comforter,” the “Spirit of Truth,” the “Advocate” – the light of the person who would receive the word of God direct and would not utter aught but what he hears from Him (God). It was the light of the one who would tell humankind everything, and complete and finalize the divine message which Jesus and his predecessors had not completed. According to Jesus it was the Paraclete or Parclet (Muhammad or Ahmad – more commendable) who would come after him (Jesus) and would deliver the final and the last message of God to humankind (vide fourth Gospel).

Hashim shone in all that was noble and excellent, but his chosen son Abdul Muttalib with a glorious forehead and resplendent features outshone his father. He displayed the spirit of sacrifice which is the nearest and dearest to God. He was ready to sacrifice his dearest son, ‘Abdallah, in fulfilment of his sacred oath in the same manner in which Ibrahim and Isma‘il stood the test.29 The spirit of the sacrifice displayed itself then as it had done before (in the case of Isma‘il), but once again the execution was postponed by God for a greater sacrifice to come (zibeh-e ‘azeem). The great sacrifice to come had to be offered by the same House but in a different shape and at another time, i.e. when the House of ‘Abdallah and Abu Talib, the two brothers, had become one against all that was ungodly and wrong.

Abdul Mutallib’s stand against the elephant expedition of the Christian Abyssinian ruler Abraha of Yemen who marched to Mecca to destroy the Holy Shrine of the Ka‘ba (537 A.C.) is the best proof of his firm faith in the sanctity of the Holy Prophet as the House of God. It shows his extreme confidence in which the Lord of the House would defend His House against the offenders. The reverend Hashimite patriarch, Abdul Muttalib meeting Abraha, the head of the expedition, asked for the release of his camels which had been seized by the invading army. Abraha expressed his surprise that the custodian of the Holy Shrine, instead of asking him not to pollute and destroy the sanctuary, was asking only for the release of his camels. Abdul Muttalib in a very calm but firm voice retorted he was told of the camels, while the House had its own Lord to defend it.

This challenge of Abdul Muttalib was followed by the total annihilation of the Christian expedition in the manner mentioned in the Qur’an in Chapter 55, al-Fil or the Elephant. That miraculous event was the best proof of the sanctity of the House. It showed the truth and righteousness of the cause to which the people of the house, headed by the son of Hashim, the then patriarch of Al-e Ibrahim, were adhering. This was the first peaceful challenge of Ummat-e Muslimah against the Christians of Yemen mentioned in the Qur’an. The second challenge took place after nearly 60 years at Medina by the grandchildren of Abdul Muttalib in the shape of the Mubahala.30

The stand was the same as their grandfather, the stand of the first believers in the unity of God – the Lord of the House built by Ibrahim – against the believers in the Trinity and divinity of Jesus. On both occasions, the Christians were defeated not by means of the sword, but by the force of truth. In the case of the elephant expedition, they had to submit to the sanctity of the House, and in the case of the Mubahala, involving the wrath of God on the party whose claim was false, the Christian delegates declined to respond to the challenge and agreed to pay tribute as a token of their submission to the supremacy of Islam.

Abdul Muttalib openly announced he was an adherent to the religion of Ibrahim, rejecting the pagan cults of idolatry, lottery, marriage with wives of one’s father (stepmothers), etc. He revived many rights recommended by Ibrahim, which had been neglected by most of his descendents. All the reforms adopted by Abdul Muttalib and the rules laid down by him were later confirmed by Islam. The announcement by Abdul Muttalib in which he was an adherent to the religion of his father and forefathers should be read along with the Qur’an which asserts the Holy Prophet is commissioned to preach the religion of the grand ancestors of the house of Prophet Ibrahim. The Qur’an confirms also Ibrahim had already named some of his descendants as Muslimin with the status of being witness over the people, and their being witnesses over the Holy Prophet.31

However, the Hasmimite patriarch is said to have combined in him the dignity of the kings and the glowing features of the Prophets. Like his grand ancestor, Ibrahim, he is called Umatun Wahidah,32 a single soul, who attained the distinction of possessing all the virtues found in different pious people. And he was well aware of the light (the resplendent clay) which he was carrying. It was not very late in his life that, to his utmost joy, he found the light began to glow on the foreheads of his two beloved sons, ‘Abdallah and Abu Talib. The former was saved by God, like the ancestor Isma‘il, from being sacrificed, just to carry the light of prophethood in its finality and perfect phase.

He lived a life clean but very short. He married Aminah, the daughter of his grand uncle Wahb, the brother of Hashim. She conceived. The light was transferred from ‘Abdallah to Aminah. A few months before or after the birth of the Holy Prophet, ‘Abdallah in the prime of life, between the age of 25 and 30, passed away. He left his widow and orphan to be looked after by Abdul Muttalib, who for extreme pain and grief at the loss of a son like ‘Abdallah was compensated by the joy of holding in his arms the most perfect manifestation of divine grace, which was the expectation of the House of Ibrahim for a long time. It was destined that the grandfather and not the father should solemnize with the utmost care all the rites in respect of the newborn, recommended by Ibrahim.

أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيمًا فَآوَىٰ {6}

Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter? (93:6)

Abdul Muttalib performed all the rites ceremoniously and named the baby Muhammad, peace be upon him. This name had not been used before. He said he was expecting the baby to be the real embodiment of the name which means the “Praised One.” It means the one who is made perfect, devoid of all defects. God is absolutely perfect by Himself. His immediate manifestation is also perfect in relation to the subsequent manifestation, but not by himself. He is made perfect. He owes his perfection to the Absolute. Thus, the best and the most comprehensive term for the first created being in the arc of descent is Muhammad. No being in the hierarchy of the corresponding arc of ascent can appropriately be named Muhammad, that name was for the one who was to be the final, the last month amenity of the hierarchy. It is the last in the arc of ascent which corresponds or reflects the first in the arc of descent.

Of the manifestations of the Absolute, the first and the last in degree of perfection was to be termed Muhammad. The first and the last in these two arcs are actually the inner and outer aspects of each other. Both are Muhammad’s in the real sense of the term. For this interpretation of the word the celebrated apostolic statement of the Ahl al-Bayt may be referred, “Awaluna Muhammad, Aowsatuna Muhammad, Akheruna Muhammad, wa Kuluna Muhammad,” i.e. the first, middle, and last of us are Muhammad. This hadith (tradition) explains and asserts the 12 Imams of the House of the Prophet are successors of the Prophet who have all the attributes of the Prophet except prophethood. The constant will of God made them far away from all dirt and defects and bestowed on them the purity and excellence to the maximum possible extent (33:33).

Looking at the apparent aspects of the early life of the Holy Prophet we find he was under the care of his grandfather and his widowed mother for some time. Then he was entrusted for a few years to the care of his foster mother, Haleemah, of the tribe of Bani Sa‘ad. The mother could not tolerate to be away very long from the only precious gem left behind by her husband. Muhammad was brought back from the desert to join his mother in the city of Mecca. But she did not survive the shock of the loss of her husband to enjoy the glorious future of her son. She passed away when the Holy Prophet was six years old, and thereafter he had the motherly care and affection of Fatima, the daughter of Asad, the wife of Abu Talib, which also did not last very long.

The Prophet was eight years old when Abdul Muttalib’s time of departure came. He handed over to Abu Talib, his worthy successor, the charge of the ancestral heritage along with the duty of taking care of the divine trust, the topmost gem of humanity. He put the hand of Muhammad into the hand of Abu Talib, who carried out the duty of a guardian. This was “the apparent aspect of his early life.” But the Qur’an, Abu Talib and his son Ali give the glowing picture of the whole situation. Their presentation of the life of the Prophet should be taken as the real and spiritual aspect of his life. Of the numerous enlightening descriptions of the Holy Prophet by Ali, we quote here only the gist of one, given in one of his lectures recorded in Nahj al-Balahga.

Ali says that ever since the birth of the Prophet, God made the greatest angel to accompany the Prophet, day and night, leading him to the path of virtue and excellent conduct. Abu Talib did not consider the Prophet to be under his care and obligation or of any other’s of the Hasmimite house. On the contrary, he considered it a great honour and blessing for every member of the house of Hashim to be in the presence of the Prophet. He describes the brave warriors of the house of Hashim who were ready to lay down their lives for the holy one, as resorting to the Prophet for shelter. Instead of considering the Prophet to be under his protection, he considered himself and all the other members of the house to be under the Prophet’s protection. He did not look at his nephew as a helpless orphan under his care. He saw him as having a shining and auspicious face by virtue of which rain descends from the clouds. Instead of considering him as an orphan he presented him as the caretaker of the orphans and the protector of widows. To Abu Talib, Muhammad was the beauty and glory in the world for those who were able to appreciate him and was full of wrath against the enemy of the truth. He was the ornament of all assemblies. He was forbearing, prudent, and farsighted. He devoted himself entirely to the service of Allah.

Abu Talib was well aware of the prophetic status of his nephew as recorded in the earliest scriptures. His verses in eulogy of the Prophet, “Do you not know we have found, recorded in the early scriptures, in which Muhammad is indeed a prophet like Moses?” are not mere flattery. They are the expression of a brave and sincere man of nobility who meant every word he uttered. They are the outburst of the ardent love and admiration for the truth and righteousness which he saw in his nephew ever since his childhood.

Abu Talib considered Muhammad as the one commissioned by the Lord of all creatures (and not just the Lord of the Quraysh or Arabs) to preach to all the universal religion approved by Him in its pure and original form. He did not regard the stand taken by Muhammad as only against the degenerated Qurayshites who claimed to be the descendants of Ibrahim, but contemplated it as something against the whole world which had been fouled by ungodly cults, customs, and beliefs. The stand was against racialism, nationalism, parochialism and the Jewish and Christian bigotries which resulted in hatred and intolerance: he was the glory of the whole world of truth and the wrath of God on anyone who opposed it. In short, the amount of respect the prophet was commanding among the members of his own family in general and of his nearest kin such as Abu Talib, Abdul Muttalib, and Ali in particular, before and after his birth and his departure from the world, was so great it is beyond one’s ability to describe. The intimate and chosen members of the family are the most competent people to bear testimony to the character of the man who claims to be in communion with the heavenly spheres.

In the case of the Holy Prophet and his household, even their enemies had to acknowledge their virtuous character. It is a revelation to all and historical truth, let alone the confessions of Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan, Mo‘awiya, and others. Shimr who cut the holy head of Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet, and presented it to Yazid, son of Mo‘awiyah, demanded with great pride, “Oh king, fill up the sack with gold and silver, I have killed the virtuous saint. I have killed the one whose father and mother were the best among the whole of humankind.”

This is evidence of the heavenly aspect of the life of the Holy Prophet narrated by those of the nearest kin. The Qur’an is the supreme authority which gives evidence on the godly, spiritual or inner aspect of the life of the last messenger of God sent for all which may be termed as the ‘Alameen (worlds). This is what the Qur’an itself repeatedly and emphatically asserts.

وَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَسْتَ مُرْسَلًا ۚ قُلْ كَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكُمْ وَمَنْ عِنْدَهُ عِلْمُ الْكِتَابِ {43}

“Those who disbelieve and say, ‘You are not sent (commissioned by God).’ Say (you) ‘Sufficient is God and the one who has with Him the thorough knowledge of the Book, as the witness between me and you.’” (13:43)

In essence, the Qur’an testifies the Holy Prophet is the first being in the order of creation (in the arc of descent), the foremost in receiving the divine grace. There was no other purpose for the process of descent and ascent of the Holy Prophet, the first created one, but to send him as the universal grace to the entire world (21:107). The achievement of this purpose resulted in the long process of creation of the heavens and earth or say the “unfolding of what was compact in His (God’s) knowledge, and refolding of them again in the manner which the written scrolls are unfolded and refolded” (Ref. 21:104).

God is presented in the Qur’an as the Lord cherisher of all the worlds. To Pharaoh’s question, “Who is the Lord Cherisher of all the worlds?” Moses answered, “The Lord Cherisher of the heavens the Earth and all that is in between.” To the worlds of which God is the Lord Cherisher, the Holy Prophet is sent as His “universal grace.” This is the “great character” with which the Holy Qur’an credits the Holy Prophet.

The universal grace is the principle attribute of God for all of His creative and legislative activities. God has made the same universal grace as the principle life of the Holy Prophet. He and the other righteous servants of God shall ultimately inherit Earth (21:105). Thus the beginning of the life of the Holy Prophet was prior to the world to which he was sent, because no world can come into being prior to the universal grace of God. Similarly, the end of the Prophet’s life is connected with the universal grace which never ends.33 The All-Gracious taught the Qur’an in the manner in which He created the man and taught him “expression.” It is obvious the man who receives such unique instructions cannot but be the manifestation of the universal grace to all the worlds (Chapter 105, the Beneficent, ar-Rahman). The teacher of Muhammad is ar-Rahman (Allah). The lesson is the Qur’an.

The time and method of teaching were such the moment He created the Holy Prophet He taught him expression (bayan). The result of His teaching was he took such a unique state as to be over and above the highest horizon (53:5 – 7). The term Shah-e Sadr used in the Qur’an concerning the Prophet means the broadening of the breast as opposed to constricting it. The Qur’an has used this as a figurative expression of broad-mindedness and extensive, as opposed to the narrow mindedness and absence of capacity to receive the radiant light of truth. The Qur’an has termed the narrowness of the breast, in the sense, as the dirt fallen on those who are lacking in faith and reasoning (6:125).

Therefore, the term Sharh-e Sadr used in the Qur’an for the Holy Prophet means the constant process of widening of his mind and heart and ever expanding the submissive capacity to receive the divine light. Wherever the term is used for him it should not be taken to mean a surgical-like operation by the angels on the physical breast or heart of the Holy Prophet and their washing and dressing the wound, caused by their operation. These are the reports given by the narrators of an anthropomorphic tendency who were incapable of grasping the real meaning of the apostolic statement of the Holy Prophet and the Ahl al-Bayt. They understood nothing beyond the material and physical form, and so naturally distorted what they heard by converting it into their own words which are totally against the Qur’anic significance.

The Qur’an asserts he and the members of his House are kept away from all dirt and impurities and are purified to the highest extent. As such they are in touch with the Qur’an in the “Hidden Book,” in its original form which is with God, i.e. divine knowledge. It gives evidence in which the Prophet never went astray nor deviated from the right path. God never forsook the Prophet nor was He ever displeased with him. He assured him of his incessant progress towards such an end which was better for him than the beginning, which implied every step of his was better than the previous one. He was in non-stop motion towards the sublime stage of the Well-praised One (Chapter 93).

He (the Prophet) followed nothing more throughout his life but what was revealed to him by God. God assured him He would give so many gifts and blessings in which he (the Prophet) might be satisfied and pleased. The Qur’an reminded the Prophet of the special care and attention of God towards him which was so incessant that He did not even for a moment leave the Prophet to himself or anyone else. The moment He found him in any physical or spiritual need, He helped him immediately with no lapse of time. He sheltered him the moment He found him an orphan. He enriched him the moment He found him poor. He guided him the moment He found him not knowing his way. In short, God never allowed the common creaturely defects and short-comings, inherent in all finite beings to display themselves in the life of the Holy Prophet.

The Conception of the Fallibility of the Prophet is an Evil Innovation

These are a few passages in the Qur’an which are quoted against the view of the total infallibility of the Prophet such as 9:43, the first verse in Chapter 66, and the first eight verses of Chapter 80.34 It is said that on these three occasions the Prophet was reproached and censured for what he had done, which means the actions undertaken by him on those occasions had no divine approval. But this statement is not correct. On the first two occasions, though God addressed the prophet, the tone of each of the verses relating to the respective occasions shows the censure was directed against those toward whom the Holy Prophet showed leniency. Such leniency is an aspect of that universal grace with which he was commissioned, so he was already allowed by God, as the sentence, “God forgives you (oh Our Apostle)” signifies, to permit those unstable in faith to remain behind, but their permission was expressed in the usual rhetorical manner of addressing the one who is innocent, meaning to censure and warn the real culprit.

So God addressed the prophet on both occasions and the Prophet did what God had already allowed him to do. He did nothing but what God wanted him to do. Therefore, God warned the wrongdoers involved in both cases not to take undue advantage of the grace and leniency with which God had sent the Prophet. In the first eight verses of Chapter 80, the personal pronouns, which some commentators have wrongly taken as referring to the Holy Prophet refer actually to some other person who belonged to the aristocratic class of the companions of the Prophet. He had brought a few people of his class to the Prophet, and he was anxious to see the prophet more attentive to the people of his class than the people of the class of the poor such as the blind companion, ibn Maktoom, who came to see the Prophet on that occasion.

The whole blame is against the attitude of the Quraysh aristocrat who frowned and turned his face from the blind companion. Otherwise the prophet, who was “with the Qur’an and the Qur’an was with him” from the beginning to the end of his life, was far from deviating from its teachings, even for a moment. The Qur’an repeatedly states the stand taken by the previous prophets against the arrogant aristocrats who used to despise those believers of their time who were poor. Among the followers of the Prophet there were some arrogant aristocrats of the Quraysh who used to consider themselves superior to the poor followers of the Prophet like persons known as Ashab al-Sufa,35 those homeless people who used to sleep on the platform of the mosque (such as Salman, Abu Dharr, ‘Ammar, Miqdad, etc.).

So in order to warn those arrogant people, the Qur’an repeatedly addressed the Holy Prophet not to despise the poor believers and turn towards the rich people. But actually the admonition was directed against those who used to despise the poor followers. Even if it is granted the Prophet was addressed, he was certainly not meant to be the person warned, for as the sixth Imam of the House of the prophet, Ja‘far as-Sadiq, says, “All the reproving addresses of this kind in the Qur’an which apparently refer to the Prophet are actually directed at others. ‘It is like the proverb in Arabic – You do I address, but hear you oh neighbour.’”

There are three more verses in the Qur’an which have been quoted to prove the Prophet had committed some sin for which in two of these verses (40:55 and 47:19)36 he is ordered to pray to God for forgiveness, and in one place, in the first and second verses of chapter 48, God forgives all the sins committed by the prophet in the past or those which might be committed by him in the future. This total forgiveness is presented as due to the victory which God achieved for the Prophet. In the first two verses it is clear the dhanab (sin) referred to is the creaturely shortcoming, in the devotion and submission, to which all the highly conscious finite beings are always alive. They always feel, however great may be their obedience, and deep and wide may be the degree of their realization, yet they are unworthy of His greatness and His transcendent sublimity.

It is the awareness of their creaturely shortcomings which keeps them in a state of supplication and incessant prayer for mercy and forgiveness. This humble petitioning attitude is the basic condition of their infallible devotion and submission. It does not imply the committing of any sin or disobeying any of the divine commands. This is a precautionary measure whichever righteous man has to take against the possible display of the inherent defects. When we recite in prayer, “Oh God, guide us to the right path,” it does not mean we are out of it now. It means, “Oh God, keep us on the right path so long as we are on the move towards You.” It is a precautionary measure against possible deviation.

Regarding the first two verses of Chapter 48, the Qur’an asserts God “caused victory” for the Prophet to cover past and future sins. Another purpose was to complete His bounties on the Prophet. The third purpose was to guide him to the right path and the fourth was to render to the Prophet unique help. It is obvious there should be some relevancy between the victory and all four purposes mentioned in the verses, particularly the first purpose: the forgiveness of the past and future sins of the Prophet. Unless the sin in question is not rooted in defeat and frustration, the victory cannot be the cause of its removal. The Qur’an does not mention anything done by the Prophet against the will of God, except the three cases already referred to.

Suppose that on all three occasions he acted against the will of God, and suppose God also, like human despots, forgives the sinners and sets the prisoner free on some happy occasion like victory over any enemy, yet no despot will give a general licence to a sinner to commit sin even after the victory or the happy occasion is over, for that would mean allowing a person to live licentiously throughout his life. Satan, after thousands of years of devotion was condemned forever on account of one sin. Would God, for an ordinary victory over a few pagans of Mecca pardon the Prophet’s sins of the past and license him to sin in the future?

On the same pattern of thinking a report is made popular in which the Prophet said, “Perhaps God has looked at the people of Badr (those Muslims who took part in the first battle against the pagans of Mecca) and said unto them, ‘Do whatever you like, I have, verily, forgiven you.’” These sort of concoctions were allowed to creep into the minds of Muslims to protect certain companions of the Prophet, who despite their participation in the celebrated battle misbehaved afterwards and committed crimes which were detrimental to the very cause of Islam.

The above is the wishful interpretation of some people, but the Qur’an here and elsewhere confirms the reasonable view of the Ahl al-Bayt in which the Holy Prophet in particular, and all the Prophets in general, are far from being influenced by Satan and satanic forces and are also far from deviating from the right path to which God has guided them. It is not possible that God gave the Prophet in particular and other prophets or any other rational being a general license to commit any wrong which they liked for the sake of some good already done by them. It is against the Qur’anic facts and assertion,

فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ {7}

وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ {8}

“Whosoever does a bit of good shall see it and whosoever does a bit of evil shall see it.” (99:7 – 8)

Moreover, if God intended to forgive any sin which might be committed by the Prophet, then there was no sense in mentioning the third purpose of the victory in the verse “and to guide you to the right path,” because once license is given to him to commit sin the third purpose becomes redundant for there is then no need of guidance to the right path. He is forgiven, whatever path, right or wrong, he may adopt. Therefore, there should be no doubt the term “sin” used here or elsewhere in the Qur’an concerning the prophet does not signify what it generally is taken to mean. The Prophet never did anything which could displease God. As for what the Qur’an asserts, viz. God will not be pleased to see the breast (the mind and heart) of His devoted servants and messengers get constricted on account of people’s doing wrong and disobeying God, it does not mean God is displeased with the Prophet.

It is a very commendable manifestation of fatherly affection and grace in which the misbehaviour of the children should pain the father and cause the fatherly status of universal grace for all the worlds, if he sees the slightest misbehaviour in any one in any corner of the world to which he is sent, he would feel distressed and pained and as the head of the worlds under him he would also feel ashamed and guilty before the Almighty for the misdeeds of those to whom he is like a father. God points out on the one side the amount of the fatherly grace and anxiety of the Prophet for the people, and on the other the effect of the misdeeds of the people on the Prophet.

وَلَقَدْ نَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ يَضِيقُ صَدْرُكَ بِمَا يَقُولُونَ {97}

We already know how cramped your breast feels because of what they say. (15:97)

وَاصْبِرْ وَمَا صَبْرُكَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ ۚ وَلَا تَحْزَنْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا تَكُ فِي ضَيْقٍ مِمَّا يَمْكُرُونَ {127}

And be you patient (oh Our Apostle Muhammad) and your patience is not but by (the help of) God. (16:127)

And grieve not for them and be not distressed of what they devise. (27:70)

God does not like His vicegerent to suffer such mental anguish. Therefore, to remove the cause of such suffering He blesses His Prophet with the spiritual victory of having a clear view of the whole universe and every part and particle so he may realize that in the total view of the whole, nothing is wrong or evil, and nothing is out of His control and domination.

قُلْ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَالنَّبِيُّونَ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ {84}

Say (oh Our Apostle Muhammad) (unto the people), “We believe in God and in what has been sent down to us, and what has been sent down to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob and the Tribes, and in what was given to Moses, and Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord, we make no difference between any of them, and we unto Him are Muslims.” (3:84)

It is this view of the whole which removes the cause of distress. The mental anguish commendable from one aspect, yet is unpleasant from another and as such is termed as dhanb (sin), and is removed from its root. The relative and partial view of the universe is the root. In this view the good and bad, things pleasing God and displeasing Him are discriminated. On this ground, the Imams (of the Ahl al-Bayt) have interpreted the sin here as the sin of the Ummah; the group to whom the Prophet was sent. According to this interpretation the manifest victory is not confined to the temporal conquest of Mecca or even the whole of Arabia or the entire globe. These conquests are, comparatively speaking, of less importance, though the conquest of Mecca was the occasion on which gradual revelation of the Qur’an was recited by the Prophet.37

However, here in chapter 48, the term fatha (victory), has been qualified as manifest (mubin) in the beginning verse, and as near victory (fathan qariba) in verse 27, and also in 61:13. But in chapter 110 the term victory has been used without qualification. According to some commentaries the near victory refers to the establishment of the godly kingdom on Earth during the reign of the last Imam al-Mahdi.

إِنَّهُمْ يَرَوْنَهُ بَعِيدًا {6}

وَنَرَاهُ قَرِيبًا {7}

Verily they regard it to be far distant, and We see it (very) near. (70:6 – 7)

The manifest victory refers to the realization of divine domination of the universe in the stage of viewing it as a whole. These victories refer to the spiritual states of the prophet’s realization, be it associated with temporal victories or not. This realization covers people’s sins, misdeeds, and ungodly actions. Thus, the victory would cover the unpleasant scenes which would make the Prophet feel ashamed before God, who has given him the responsible status of vicegerency. This view relieves the Prophet of the heaviest burden of responsibility as outlined in 7:6.

فَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الَّذِينَ أُرْسِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الْمُرْسَلِينَ {6}

Verily We shall question those to whom (the messengers) have been sent, and verily We shall question (too) those (messengers) who have been sent.(7:6)

It is obvious that of all the Prophets the one who is the last and final is the supreme and as such his responsibility before God is greater than the others. Nothing can relieve the Holy Prophet from feeling the heaviness of the burden of his responsibility, but the realization of divine victory and His hold over all which comes under his (the Prophet’s) responsibility, the assurance given to him by God in which “the end is better for him than the beginning” and his Lord Cherisher would give him very much to please and satisfy him:

إِنَّ سَعْيَكُمْ لَشَتَّىٰ {4}

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أَعْطَىٰ وَاتَّقَىٰ {5}

And verily the end is better for you than the beginning (of life). And soon will give you your Lord in which you shall be well pleased. (93:4 – 5)

and the appointment of one to assist him in shouldering the burden. To this effect, Ali as the nearest person to the Prophet in blood, spirit and character was declared by the Prophet as his brother, assistant, executor of his will and his successor after him to be listened to and obeyed by all. This declaration was made by the Prophet along with the announcement of his mission in the third year of his ministry (vide Tarikh-e Tabari and al-Kamil of ibn al-Athir). This kind of strengthening of the hands of the Prophet by giving him an assistant of the same spirit and blood, qualification and excellence is exemplified in the Qur’an by the story of Harun being appointed by God as the assistant, supporter and successor of Musa. To this effect the Prophet of Islam declared Ali was to him what Harun was to Moses.

In dealing with the Qur’anic evidence of the infallibility of the Prophet two opposite terms, Sharh-e Sadr and Ziq-e Sadr, have been explained. The former means broadmindedness and as such it is a very commendable virtue and no Prophet or vicegerent of God can be lacking in it while the latter means narrow-mindedness, which has been presented as a condemnable vice with which no prophet can be tainted. Here in answer to those who have quoted the first verse of chapter 48 as evidence to the Prophet’s sin, we have pointed out the sin referred to here is the distress felt by the Prophet owing to the ungodly behaviour of the people. So, it was actually the sins of others which caused him distress. We have said this constriction of the chest is a commendable virtue from one aspect, though God does not will to let his vicegerent continue to suffer even this distress.

These two statements about the mental distress commending it as a virtue on the one hand and condemning it as a vice on the other seem to be contradictory and confusing. But this seeming contradiction is over if the reader keeps in mind there are two different constrictions of one’s mind due to two opposite causes. One is the distress caused by the feeling of personal loss and sufferings resulting from the narrowness of the ego-centre which makes one indifferent to the welfare of anyone else other than one’s self. The other kind of mental distress is caused by the feeling of loss suffered by others. Such feeling is due to the broadness of one’s ego-centre which feels in union with others and considers their loss and suffering or their gain and happiness as one’s own.

The Prophet felt happy when he saw people really prosperous and happy and he felt worried and distressed when he saw people in real loss and distress. Ali, the Prophet’s successor in the status of the final vicegerency of God says, “It is painful for Ali as the head of the State to fill his stomach and sleep, feeling satisfied, when even one of his subjects in the remotest part of his kingdom is starving.” The temporal rule over a small or large region of Earth may be great in the eyes of the average man but to the Almighty Creator and Sovereign of the whole universe, His are the kingdoms of the heavens and the Earth.

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ عَلَىٰ فَتْرَةٍ مِنَ الرُّسُلِ أَنْ تَقُولُوا مَا جَاءَنَا مِنْ بَشِيرٍ وَلَا نَذِيرٍ ۖ فَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ بَشِيرٌ وَنَذِيرٌ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ {19}

Certainly infidels are they who say, “Verily God, He is the Messiah, son of Mary.” Say (oh Our Apostle Muhammad), “Who could hold anything against God if He intends to destroy the messiah, son of Mary, and his mother and (all) which is on the Earth together?” For unto God belongs the dominion of the heavens and the Earth and what is between them. He created what he wills. Verily God over all things has power. (5:19)

So the great kingdom given in charge of the Holy Prophet and has 12 successive vicegerents of God from the Al-e Ibrahim must be the one which is great in dimension and duration in the sight of God and not in the eyes of those whose ambition does not rise beyond earthly pleasure and gain.

مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعَاجِلَةَ عَجَّلْنَا لَهُ فِيهَا مَا نَشَاءُ لِمَنْ نُرِيدُ ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَا لَهُ جَهَنَّمَ يَصْلَاهَا مَذْمُومًا مَدْحُورًا {18}

Whosoever intends this (fast hastening) immediate (life) We hasten unto him in it what We please for whomsoever We intend, then assign We unto him the hell. He shall enter it despised, driven away. (17:18)

Therefore, one can imagine how great would be the concern of the person responsible who is in communion with God and with every part and member of the universe. That concern cannot be remedied but with the assurance from God of the ultimate manifest victory of good over evil, truth over falsehood, right over wrong, justice over injustice, love over hatred, and grace over wrath. It is narrated that on the eve of the departure of the Prophet from this world, when all the chief angelical entities, particularly Israel, the arch-angel of death, were attending the Prophet and waiting for his permission to perform their final duty, the Prophet began murmuring, “What about my followers?” He was waiting for the arch-angel Gabriel to bring him the final assurance from god about the destiny of his followers, for whom he was concerned and it was only Gabriel repeated the recitation of God’s assurance given to the Holy Prophet during the early days of his mission in which the Holy Prophet said, “Now death is pleasant to me.”38

In connection with the question of the infallibility of all the Prophets in general and the Holy Prophet in particular, the reader may find many points dealt with here as repetitive or overlapping with the points dealt within our treatise on the complete representative status of Prophets, particularly the last Prophet. We also quoted from the Qur’an in the light of sound reasoning to the effect that every action, talk and endorsement of the prophet including the domestic, private and individual movements and rest, even eating, drinking, sleeping, and relations with wives and children, in fact, all aspects of his life were controlled by revelation. However, there is no contradiction between the points dealt herewith and in the said treatise. The repetition and overlapping could have been avoided, but there is justification in not doing some owing to the importance of the matter and the fact that repetition may produce a deeper effect on the mind of the reader.

Before concluding the above discourse on the evidence which elucidates the heavenly aspect of the Prophet’s life, which dominates the material life, a brief account of the different points of view about the life and reaching of the Holy Prophet is given here to comprehend his “tremendous character” (Khulq-e azim).

Views about the Holy Prophet

(1) Atheistic materialism

It is obvious that from this angle of vision all the religious and moral values based on the reality of the spiritual and heavenly aspects of existence in general and of men in particular become meaningless. Nevertheless, many prominent figures of this school have acknowledged the greatness of the Holy Prophet as a reformer and have held his teachings as a great revolutionary contribution toward the advancement of human civilization.

(2) Theistic materialism or theistic rationalism

Theistic materialism or theistic rationalism acknowledges the existence of a universal conscious and intellectual mind behind the phenomena of creation, which has designed and set the machinery of the universe in motion. But they do not believe in the universal mind being concerned with the destiny of individual life and the souls of men, nor do they believe in His having legislative hold or authority on human will. According to this view, human life, whether limited to the temporal span or continued in the hereafter, is either of little significance to the universal mind to bother about, or as some members of this school hold, man has been left by Him to his intellectual faculties and will power to decide his own destiny.

God has given man enough reasoning and free choice to look after his own interests. So there is no such thing as a legislative will of God to be communicated to man through special messengers and revelations. People who hold these views are called deists. To this school belongs Gibbon, the author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman empire and may prominent advocates of democracy, as opposed to theocracy, i.e. the rule of divine will. Most of them have paid glowing tributes to the Prophet of Islam as an extra-ordinary genius of his epoch who revolutionized the history of human thought and culture.

(3) Non-Islamic theology

The adherents of this view admit the legislative authority of God, the Creator of the universe over His entire creatures in general and over men in particular, God communicates His legislative will to men through some chosen men. They are people who are gifted by birth or by effort with some special faculty of being in communion with the spiritual and heavenly sphere of angels or with God directly. The faculty, thus obtained, is something beyond the intellectual faculty and reasoning with which an average person is endowed to a greater or lesser degree. If the faculty in question is obtained by birth with no effort from the person, it is termed as prophethood and the heavenly communication received through this channel is called scripture, the heavenly book (kitab-e asana). If the faculty is obtained by effort it is termed mysticism and the communication obtained through his channel is mystic-vision (kashf) and intuitive-sight (shuhud). The entire known non-Islamic religions of the world come under the above categories. Zoroasterism, Judaism and Christianity come under scriptural religions. Hinduism, Buddhism and their various branches may come under the mystic religions.

However, many prominent ecclesiastical scholars of these views, particularly the Jewish and Christian missionaries, have adopted a very bigoted and hostile stand against the Prophet. They did not spare any means or opportunity to attack Islam and misrepresent the Prophet, the Qur’an and the teachings of Islam. In their anti-Islamic attempts, they have adopted methods of direct and indirect attack. The first method which was adopted by the Christian missionaries proved in the course of experience to be very unsuccessful, the result being more against the missionaries. It made the Muslim adopt a counter attack. They (the Muslims) turned to the Bible, the Old and new testaments, and found many more weak points in them than what their opponents could claim to find in the Qur’an and the teachings of Islam. So the missionaries gave up the direct method and resorted to the second method, i.e. indirect attack: the method of posing as impartial scholars of research.

With the professorial style of approach, but relying on wrong or incomplete data, they tried to undermine the fundamentals of Islamic thought, culture and civilization. This method was adopted with the same bigoted ecclesiastical background in the professorial garb as that of the
Priestly robe.

But in both the professorial (indirect method of undermining Islam) and in the priestly (direct) method of attack, one will find tributes paid by famous writers of these schools to the Holy Prophet and their acknowledgement of his contribution towards human progress in all branches of civilization. Willingly or unwillingly, they have to admit the facts of history in order not to appear prejudiced. But the entire attempt of these orientialists like that of the missionaries is aimed at presenting the prophet’s movement and teachings as a sort of temporal reform in the garb of religion. Some of them go to the extent of holding the Prophet as the greatest reformer that ever appeared in the history of humankind and as a man of highly intellectual accomplishment but not as a prophet, not as a man in communication or communion with God and angelical spheres, nor as one commissioned by god to convey His will to humankind.

The professorial school, i.e. the oriental research scholars, are a greater danger to Islam than all the anti-Islamic movements. They pose as impartial and unprejudiced seekers of historical truth and win the confidence of the westernized Muslim youths and inject poisonous ideas into their minds. They cut their fundamental root of Islam – the prophethood and vicegerency of the Prophet and the binding force of his teachings on humanity. Then they leave the mind which has lost faith in the heavenly authority of the Holy Prophet to drift along the conflicting currents of old traditional tendencies of Islamic culture and the modern material civilization of the west. Such is the wavering mind of our modern writers on Islam. They want to pose as Muslims on the one hand, and as very broadminded free thinkers on the other. In their approach they imitate the western professorial method of presenting wrong or incomplete date in a very attractive rhetorical style and logical form. In writing on Islam, they try their best to present the Prophet more as a temporal than a divinely accomplished figure.
This group of writers on Islam resemble a group of the early converts who were not firm in their faith. They are like them in a wavering state of mind. To the westerners and the admirers of modern civilization they pretend to be with them, and to the staunch believers they pretend to be true Muslims – the same as the people about whom the Qur’an says:

وَإِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا إِلَىٰ شَيَاطِينِهِمْ قَالُوا إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُونَ {14}

And when they meet with those who believe they say, “We believe,” but when they go apart to their devils, they say, “Surely we are with you, verily we did but mock.” (2:14)

Some of them used to listen to the Prophet, but when they would leave his presence they would ask mockingly those who were gifted with knowledge, “What did the Prophet say just now?” (47:16) Some of them would express doubt when the Prophet would inform them of some incident which had taken place, apparently hidden from the Prophet, as to who could have informed the Prophet? They would question him, “Who has informed you about this?” The Prophet had to tell them, “The Omniscient, All-knowing has informed me.” (66:3)

Many times when the Prophet would give some new directives which would appear strange to them; they would consider them as something temporal and as the outcome of the Prophet’s own wisdom. The Prophet had to reaffirm on those occasions he would not utter a word but what was revealed to him and he would not follow anything but was revealed.

(4) An Islamic school of thought holding dualistic views

An Islamic school of thought holding dualistic views about the personality of the prophet sees the Prophet as the last one, after whom no prophet would come. They believe the communication between him and God, sometimes through the angelic agency, particularly Gabriel, and at others directly, was established when he reached the age of forty and he received revelation both in the form of the Qur’an and other than the Qur’an. But they hold he was also subject to human frailty like others and he acted according to the dictates of his own discretion and desires. He was a Prophet, and recipient of divine revelation but he was a man of opinion and discretion also.

As a Prophet he did not err or commit any mistake but as a man he was subject to error and mistakes like others. He was a man like others (bashrun mislakum) and he received revelation as an additional qualification. Prophethood was an addition to his human qualities without their becoming identical with his prophethood in that his mind was not totally controlled by revelation. So his movement and expressions, they say, were partly due to his prophethood and partly to his manly qualities. This dualistic view about the Prophet can be traced back to the early days of Islam. From the behaviour and utterances of some of the companions of the Prophet, it seems this theory was evolved on political grounds by some of the companions, during the closing days of the Prophet’s life (al-Milal wal-Nihal).

Among the early followers of the Holy Prophet there were some who were accustomed to the rule of a sort of aristo-bureaucracy of tribal chiefs. It was very difficult for them to comply whole-heartedly with the requirements of Islam, i.e. the absolute theocracy – absolute submission to the will of god as presented and dictated by the Prophet. At the same time, convinced by common sense and the force of the Qur’anic arguments, they had to admit that no finite being can secure real salvation without submitting his will to the will of God – the Infinite. They also had to admit that the divine will was conveyed to them through chosen men, as special messengers of God, of whom Muhammad was one and also the last.

With these convictions and admissions, how could they make room for their deep-rooted tendency of allowing the aristocratic class of elders to have their say and sway in the affairs concerning various aspects of human life? They had to find a way to satisfy the desire which was working in them. The course they adopted was to evolve the dualistic view. Thus the elders could have their say in those affairs about which the Qur’an is silent or its verdict is not clear. Though they agree the sayings of the Prophet are mostly the outcome of revelation, yet they say some of his sayings as well as some of his actions were the outcome of his human capacity and hence not binding and may be even objectionable and subject to reproach.

In spite of all the Qur’anic evidence as already mentioned in which Muhammad was nothing but a Prophet and he did not follow anything but revelation, they recorded reports to the contrary. Some of these reports bear not only testimony to the dualistic personality of the Prophet; they depict him as a person even below the ordinary moral standard. These reports are claimed to be reliable on the authority of the companions of the Prophet who are considered to be firsthand reporters. From them, through the chain of transmitters, generation after generation, the reports have come down to the authors of the Sunni books of traditions – Masanid, and six canonical collections al-Sihah Sitta: biography and history concerning the life and teachings of the Prophet which were included without scrutiny.

In addition, reports on events during the Prophet’s life and of the first four Caliphs which throw light on his life are the main sources of which every writer on the life of the Prophet depends. Those who hold the dualistic view, depend on the said six collections of ahadith. The topmost in authenticity, according to them, is the collection of Bukhari and next comes Muslim. Bukhari and Muslim contain damaging reports, from which the non-Muslim critics, the missionaries and orientialists, and a group of Muslim writers as the former’s camp followers, draw their data for the criticism of the life of the Prophet. They claim that whatever they have written is based on sources which are held by the majority of Muslims to be authentic. The critics pay no attention to the fact that the authenticity attached to these collections by the majority of the Muslims, like the authenticity attached to the canonical Bible, is based on traditional blind faith prompted by political expediency.

The texts of some of the reports, when compared with each other, suffer from considerable discrepancy, contradiction, absurdities and omissions, additions and alterations. The defects are greater if the contents of each collection are compared with those of other collections. So it is obvious these reports and collections cannot be regarded as authentic. The chain of the narrators is not reliable, as they depend on the views of a few people whose reliability is not free from doubt.

So far as the first hand reporters, the eyewitness companions of the Prophet are concerned, the Sunni school of thought holds them all to be pious and authentic, even a boy, not below the age of six, who confessed Islam, born of Muslim parents or by conversion and saw the Prophet and heard something from him, is termed a companion, and has the right of deciding the religious affairs according to his own discretion. They may differ in degree of piety and authoritative status. This blind faith in the companions of the Prophet contrasts with the verdict of the Qur’an about a great number of groups of the companions who were surrounding the Prophet.

The verdict of the Qur’an against the piety and authoritative status claimed for every companion of the Prophet and against the view which they are above the criticism of non-companions is supported by the sayings of the Prophet, and is confirmed by facts of history. During the time of the Prophet, a great number of so-called companions used to tell lies about the Prophet and make false reports of his sayings and teachings. When the Prophet found the practice increasing he had to declare in one of his sermons, “Verily the hypocrites about me have been increasing in number. Let it be known to all, whosoever tells lies about me, his seat (in the life hereafter) shall be filled with fire.39

“Any report about my sayings and deeds, not in conformity with the Qur’an should be treated as false and be rejected.”

(4.a) Misdeeds of a class of companions foretold by the Prophet: There are many reports which the Prophet foretold about the misbehaviour of his companions after him. He warned them not to go back to the pagan state of killing and beheading each other. The Story of Malik ibn Nuwayrah40 is the first instance of the kind and it is followed by many other examples. Mo‘awiyah beheaded the pious Hijr ibn ‘Adi and his seven noble companions. By the order of Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, his army made the Holy Ka‘ba the target of their arrows and catapults against their party who were seeking protection there as the “House of Peace.” Madina was sacked and people were massacred by the so-called sahaba during the Umayyad period with the free use of sword and poison.

The tragedy of Karbala is an unparallel example of their atrocities. The Prophet said, “Some of my companions will be dragged on the Day of Resurrection to hell and then I will acclaim my companions. My acclamations will be answered there, “Oh Muhammad, you know not what wrong they did commit after you.” He foretold that ‘Ammar the son of Yasir would be killed by a group of rebels whom ‘Ammar would call towards paradise and they would invite him towards hell. He also predicted that after him Ali would have to wage war against the breakers of the covenant and those who would rise against the rightful authority and the group of people who would digress from Islam in the manner in which an arrow shoots off from the bow.

The statement refers to the three battles in which Ali fought after the Prophet. They are known as Jamal, Siffin and Nahrawan. In these battles Ali and a group of the companions of the Prophet who were with him had to fight against their opponents who were also led by many so-called prominent companions of the Prophet. Even in the last of the three battles, the party against Ali was led by a companion of the Prophet known as Zussadyah. Bukhari narrates an interesting story about the devotional outlook of this man which made Abu Bakr and ‘Umar in turn to refrain from executing the order of the prophet to kill him. In short, there is much Qur’anic evidence and the Prophet’s assertions to the effect that among his companions there were a great number of people whose character and conduct was below the minimum standard of morality required by Islam or even by the general code of ethics. Besides these, the history of the early days of Islam give a very unpleasant account of the lives of the companions after, or even a few days before, the demise of the Prophet.

Each of these companions had disciples attached exclusively to them. They used to receive the reports from their masters to hand them over in turn to their followers and disciples. The disciples of the disciples used to record these. Thus, between the companions, the first-hand reporters and the compilers of the so-called authentic collections there is a chain of narrators, containing two, three, four or more links. For the verification of the compilation and qualification of the people who form the links in the chain of narrators the science of the biography of the narrators (‘Ilm al-Rijal) was originated. Many voluminous works of this science have been produced. Therein, one will find many controversial assertions and negations about the reliability of every link in the chain.

Some are held by some biographers as extremely reliable and qualified while other biographers hold them as unreliable and unqualified. In commending or condemning the link narrators, one will find their personal prejudice an important factor. For instance, the author of some of the most important collections of ahadith has preferred those chains of narrators who were anti-Ahl al-Bayt, or were less attached to them, to the link of narrators who were more inclined towards the House of the Prophet and Ali. As a result of political bias the reports were concocted or modified by omission, addition or alteration to suit the ruling parties of the time, and to present the Prophet as a personality, a messenger with revelation, but fallible.

It is clear they were not greatly in favour of the teachings and orders of the Prophet, the same binding authoritative status as they claimed for the Qur’an.

(4.b) The following instances will throw more light on their disobedience of the Prophet: (1) pronouncing “Sufficient is the Book of God for us” against the order of the Prophet and creating a tumultuous atmosphere there and then to the extent in which the Prophet asked them to get away from his presence and warned them for the last time not to quarrel and misbehave in his presence. (2) Avoiding serving under the command of Usamah ibn Zayd and their delay in marching with him to the front until the Prophet passed away. (3) Leading the congregational prayer sometime during the Prophet’s illness in his last days, without his permission, to the extent the Prophet ordered Ali and Fadl ibn Abbas to take him to the mosque to prevent what was going on without his permission.

(4) Leaving the funeral of the Prophet and rushing to Saqifah to settle the question of the Khilafat on the line which they themselves termed faltah (at random, unconstitutional, or without the consent of even the elders). (5) The utterance of the first Caliph in his first sermon delivered in the mosque, “Whosoever was worshipping Muhammad, let him behold, Muhammad has died, and whosoever was worshipping God should know God is alive” (vide Bukhari and Muslim): this was an uncalled for insinuation in which the companions of the Prophet were worshiping him and not God. It seems to have been intended to confirm the statement of ‘Umar, “Sufficient is the Book of God for us,” referred to already. It was also aimed at those who had full faith in the complete representative and authoritative status of the prophet and used to maintain every order, teaching, directive, every word and action was under revelation and they were binding on Muslims as the wordings of the Qur’an.

(6) Unpleasant treatment of Sa‘ad ibn ‘Ubaydah at Saqifah. (7) Raiding the house of Fatima, threatening to burn it and its inmates (even her innocent children, Hassan and Hussain) are the glaring examples against the teachings of the Prophet. They ignored the sanctity attached to the house of the Prophet and Fatima in which no one should enter the house without their permission. Then even ignored the repeated declarations of the Prophet in which Fatima was a part of him and whosoever annoyed or displeased her, would annoy and displease him (the Holy Prophet). The rulers declared Fadak as sadaqah (charity) land. The Al-e Muhammad (Fatima, Ali, Hassan and Hussain, the people to whom the term abna’ana – our sons, nisa’ana – our women and anfus’ana – ourselves in 3:61 were applied by the Prophet) shall have nothing to inherit from the Prophet and they shall, like all the other poor, live on this property of charity, though the prophet, as a privilege, had forbidden these people in particular and all the descendants of Hashim and his brother Muttalib in general to live on charity.

Recognizing three times pronouncement of any word denoting divorce in one session to be as legal and effective as three times divorce intervened by two times reunion. Prohibition of mut‘ah (temporary marriage) and mut‘ah of Hajj, i.e. allowing an interval between the performance of ‘Umrah and the performance of Hajj for the pilgrims to enjoy freedom of cohabitation with their wives. Abolition of the equal status of Muslims of all ranks (irrespective of their race, colour, and seniority in accepting Islam) in having a share in the public treasury are the examples of deviations from the Islamic code.

They introduced class distinction such as Quraysh and non-Quraysh, Immigrant and Help, Arab and non-Arab. Instances of these kinds or alterations are so many in every branch of ritual, social, economical and political codes of Islam that it is difficult to give a complete list of them here. There are books written by experts on this topic such as The Deviation of the ruling party from the orders and directives of the Prophet.

The ruling party could not reconcile themselves to the fact the Prophet and the Qur’an are inseparable and the infallibility of one means the infallibility of the other. So they on the one hand tried to create doubts in the genuineness of the written book of God which was and still is within the reach of the people, and on the other prevent the other part of the constitution of Islam (the Sunnah from being collected in written form). They thus tried to curtail the constitutional curb as much as possible. The announcement, “Sufficient is for us the Book of God,” and the other instances cited above indicate clearly they wanted to have the right using their own discretion even in respect of the clear orders and directives of the Prophet, ijtihad al-Muaqabil-e Nass (as Sharestani, the author of Milal wal-Nihal terms it).

Besides this they also wanted the supplementary and explanatory part of the divine constitution, the Sunnah, to remain unwritten, as it was easier for them to accept or reject a verbal report of the Prophet’s statement and to modify its wordings to suit the administrative expediency of the time.

(4.c) Apart from the above instances, there is abundant evidence in which the Prophet told repeatedly that Ali was his “brother” (akhi al-Rasulullah) [equal status in faith and origin], but this appellation was denied to Ali by them.

After that is the question of the land of Fadak. Since the establishment of Islam in Madina, the Jews, after their unlawful occupation of the Arabs’ land on the outskirts of Madina, were making secret alliances with the enemies of the Prophet to execute their aggressive plans against the rising force of Islam. They built a very strong fort at Khaybar. The Prophet marched against them. The glorious conquest was brought by Ali when others including Abu Bakr and ‘Umar felt nervous and failed as standard bearers of the army of Islam. After the fall of Khaybar (seventh Hijra, about 680 A.D.), the Prophet sent Ali to invite the Jews of Fadak, an important place, to Islam. The Jews offered half of the land of Fadak to the Prophet without fighting. He agreed and the land came under his possession.

On this occasion it was revealed to the Prophet that in the land possessed by him “without any effort on the part of the believers mounted or on foot” (i.e. without any military action), “the believers have no right,” as Bayt ul-mal (public treasury). It was his personal property (khalesa of the Messenger, the Prophet). Only the spoils from Khaybar were treated as bayt al-mal. It was further revealed that the Prophet should give his and Allah’s share in it (i.e. property gained without military action), to his nearest kindred:

وَمَا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ مِنْهُمْ فَمَا أَوْجَفْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ خَيْلٍ وَلَا رِكَابٍ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يُسَلِّطُ رُسُلَهُ عَلَىٰ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ {6}

مَا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَىٰ فَلِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ كَيْ لَا يَكُونَ دُولَةً بَيْنَ الْأَغْنِيَاءِ مِنْكُمْ ۚ وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ {7}

And whatever has God bestowed upon His Apostle from them, you pressed not against it any horse or camel, but God grants authority unto His apostles against whomsoever He wills, and God over all things is All Powerful. Whatever has God bestowed on His Apostle from the people of the towns, belongs unto God, and for the Apostle, and for His (Prophet’s) kindred, and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarers, so it may not circulate among the rich ones of you, and whatever give you the Apostle, you accept it, and from whatever prevents he, you be away (from it), and fear you (the wrath of) God. Verily God is severe in retribution. (59:6 – 7)

According to the divine order above, the Prophet gave Fadak land to his daughter Fatima, the nearest relative, by written document. It was in her possession in the lifetime of the Prophet.

After the demise of the Prophet it was immediately seized by Caliph Abu Bakr and ‘Umar and remained in the possession of the caliphs until Caliph ‘Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, an exception to the Umayyad’s tyrannical rule, who came to power in 99 Hijra (717 A.D.) at the time of Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq. He turned down the decision of Abu Bakr and his followers, and returned Fadak to the Ahl al-Bayt. Again, it was confiscated by his successors. During the Abbasid period, when Mamun, son of Harun al-Rashid, held the reins of the caliphate (198 Hijrah, 813 A.D.) he returned Fadak to Imam Ali ar-Rida (of the house of the Prophet). After Mamun it was again taken away by his successors, and remained under the unlawful possession of the ruler of the time.

The income from Fadak was estimated at 3,600 tomans (gold coins) which is about 7,200 pound sterling in those days. The whole income was distributed among the needy, the orphans, widows and handicapped people. History narrates Fatima used to live on the bare minimum, and often observed fasting. Even her noble maid, Fiza, followed her glorious example and aided the destitute. After the demise of the Prophet it was immediately seized by Abu Bakr after the personal possession of Fatima and in support of his decision against the Qur’an, misquoted the statement of the Prophet: “We group of Prophets do not leave any property to be inherited by their heirs; whatever we leave is charity” (nahno ma’shiral anbiyayai la nooris, ma terknaho sadaqatun).

Sadaqatun is the objective case in the sub-ordinate clause and “what we leave as charity” is also the objective clause of the principle clause, “we do not give inheritance.” Abu Bakr, supported by his group, changed the word sadaqatan to sadaqatun as the predicate to the word ma (i.e. that or what, the relative pronoun as subject. As such he made the complete sentence a co-ordinate clause to the first sentence, “we leave is charity.” The change in the original is an example of the kind of language which is far below the standard language and it cannot be attributed to the Prophet. The tradition transmitted in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim is full of discrepancies. Thus, the claim of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar was not reliable from any aspect. To please the Quraysh and their supporters they took the personal decision against the Qur’an and apostolic statement and action. Abu Bakr asked Fatima to substantiate her claim with evidence though it was not needed according to Islamic law. She placed the written document of her father (the Prophet) before him which was torn by ‘Umar. Abu Bakr wept over it and he had no remedy but to follow his dominant partner.

Apart from others, Ali, Hassan and Hussain, who were the witnesses of the truth for Islam on various occasions, and at the times of crisis such as the “Dat of Mubahala” against the Christians of Najran, as perfect entities of Fatima. There was not a single lawful claimant of Fadak except Fatima. The judges, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar stood themselves against the Qur’an. Even in human law, there is no code based on equity and justice which allows the opposite party to assume the powers of a judge. Greatly affected with grief and pain over this open violation of Qur’anic injunctions and the preachings of her father, Lady Fatima gave a long heart-rendering sermon in the huge gathering of Masjid-e Nabavi which so shocked the people they wept over the injustice.

According to the Qur’an, as she quoted in her argument, the Prophets owned property which they bequeathed to their close relatives, as Sulayman inherited from Dawud (37:16) and Zachariah prayed to God to bless him with a son to inherit from him the material property, and to inherit from the family of Ya‘qub (Jacob) the spiritual property, the book and wisdom (29:5 – 6). She quoted the verses of chapter four concerning the law of inheritance. She also quoted 33:6 to the effect in which the Prophet is nearer to all the believers than their own selves, i.e. his hold on them is greater than their hold on themselves, and his wives are the mothers of the believers (in the sense that the believers canny marry them and in no other sense) and the blood relatives are nearer to each other (in inheritance) and preferable to other believers from among the Immigrants and the Helpers.

In this passage, the Prophet has been declared to have the privilege of having complete hold on the believers, being closer to them than they are to themselves. His wives have been given the privilege of motherhood as far as marriage is concerned, and his blood relatives, like the blood relatives of others, have been given the privilege of being closer to him than other believers. She also quoted the passage in 49:7, wherein God declares the close relatives of the Prophet as owning a share in Fai (the land property abandoned by the infidels without use of arms) along with God and the Prophet. But all those quotations and arguments were in vain. They went unnoticed by the party in power. She felt hurt, annoyed and angry against the ruling party and this feeling continued until she passed away. From the report of Malik ibn Ows had then, it is clear Fatima regarded the ruling party as unjust and an aggressor.

Anyway, from these instances out of the many it appears clearly the ruling party thought it expedient to deny, as far as possible, the privileges given by God to the Prophet and the people of the House – the Ahl al-Bayt. They wanted to bring the Ahl al-Bayt down to the level of the ordinary companions. They felt the other Qurayshites families would not tolerate too many distinctions being conferred on the Hashemite family in general, and on the “People of the House” in particular. As ‘Umar disclosed, the events of Saqifah and their later consequences were due to the aversion of the Quraysh to the house of Hashim retaining the prophethood as well as the Khilafat, the supreme leadership (vide The Annals of Tabari, the conversation of ‘Umar and ibn Abbas).

Therefore, to avoid displeasing the Quraysh the first caliph made the above declaration about Muhammad’s death and also declared the Al-e Muhammad should live on charity like others. The only privilege he and his colleagues approved for the Al-e Muhammad was they should be deprived of the right of inheriting what was owned by the Prophet. The tendency was not to make the public acquainted with the spiritual distinctions conferred on the house of the Prophet, which is still continued in the writings and speeches of the scholars of this school. It has been notice that if any student of Islamic history and literature from among them is attracted towards the passages of the Qur’an and innumerable sayings of the Prophet in praise of the Ahl al-Bayt, which are scattered in their own collections of ahadith and his story, and if he begins to talk or write about them, he is looked upon with suspicion. In short, on account the reasons given above, one should be very cautious in selecting one’s date from the literature of such schools for writing about the life of the Prophet.

(5) The Shi‘ah traditionists, known as Akhbari

They are firm believers in the complete infallibility of the Prophet and the other thirteen members of the Ahl al-Bayt. They consider themselves as the true adherents of the sayings and teachings of the 14 infallible holy ones. They may be termed as verbalists, following as far as possible the literal sense of what is narrated by any one of the infallible people. They pay little or no attention to what the Qur’an or reason asserts, if the assertion is not in accord with what they understand to be the meaning of the narrated statements of the Imams. They are inclined more to collect in large numbers the narrated reports and statements of the Imams than to scrutinize the quality and nature of the text of the statement or the character and qualifications of the people who form the links in the chain of narrators.

The four famous Shi‘ah collections of the reports and statements of the Ahl al-Bayt are the most authentic on which the Shi‘ahs can rely,41 and of the four, Kafi, is the oldest, most authentic and the most comprehensive. But some of the traditionists go to the extreme extent of holding the contents of these collections, especially Kafi to be wholly true and genuine statements of the Imams. Besides these four books, there are many other voluminous collections of later periods such as Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah (by Muhammad ibn Hassan al-Hurr al-‘Amili, second century Hijrah), Bihar al-Anwar of Allama Majlisi (1110 A.H./1698 – 9 A.D.) and Awalim of Mulla ‘Abdullah Afandi, the disciple of Majlisi. These collections of narrated reports cover various religious topics of great importance.42 They are also held reliable, though to a lesser degree.

There is no doubt these collections and many other collections of lesser size, dealing with the particular topics, written by prominent Shi‘ah scholars who have specialized in the science of traditions, are of great importance and they ought to be considered as highly valuable contributions to the development of Shi‘ah thought covering all branches of theology, jurisprudence, history, philosophy, cosmology, etc. There is also no doubt their authors have taken the utmost care in collecting the narratives from sources they considered to be reliable. These collections are really oceans of light. They contain abundant enlightening statements from the Ahl al-Bayt which lead the human mind towards the aims and objects for the achievement of which the Qur’an has been revealed.

They direct human thought towards the sacred task of Rationalization of Revelation (Ta’qul), a well founded and systematic effort to have both a sound analytical and proper synthetic view of the “outcome” of the creative as well as the legislative will of God. Nevertheless, they are the collections prepared by fallible men, and are not pure and free from doubtful narratives. A thorough study of all these collections will make one sure of the fact they contain also many contradictory and absurd narrated reports. They contain many narrated statements which are supposed to have been made by the Imams, but those statements are contrary to the fundamental articles of the Shi‘ah faith. Even the most authentic collection of Shi‘ah traditions, such as Kafi, is not totally free form such defects, though comparatively it is more reliable than the others.

Therefore, it is far from being fair to consider any man-made collections of scriptural reports, be they pre-Islamic or Islamic, as above the bounds of critical scrutiny. All religious narrated reports are subject to criticism from both aspects, the character of the chain of narrators, and the nature of the narrated text. It is for this critical study of the narrated scriptural reports which the sciences of biography of the religious narrators (‘ilm al-Rijal) and the principles to be observed in the comparative study of religious narratives (‘Ilm al-daraya) were evolved and developed. The only exception from this general rule is the Qur’an.

But unfortunately, a section of our prominent traditionists seem to have been so absorbed in accumulating religious reports and narratives they had little or no time left for a critical scrutiny of their accumulated materials. It seems that due to their extreme attachment to the narrated reports they were inclined to give even a solitary report the authoritative status which they declined to give to the Qur’an itself. It is on the strength and authority of such narratives they spread doubts about the genuineness of the Qur’an in hand. The aforesaid collections contain such reports that in outlining the life of the Holy Prophet or other members of his house we are always confronted with inconsistent and contradictory statements which make a proper life-sketch of our religious leaders (Imams) very difficult. There are religious reports in our collections of traditions from which both extremist schools, the ultra-Shi‘ahs (Ghulat), and the anti-Ahl al-Bayt or pro-Umayyad (Nawasib) draw inferences in support of their respective views.

(6) The Muslim philosophers and scholastics of the medieval ages

The Arabs were deeply absorbed in some of the pre-Islamic schools of thought of Greek, Indian and Persian origin. They had been in contact with the neighbouring nations to the north, south, east, and west. Besides the contact by trade through land and sea, there had been Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian, and most probably Indian and Greek settlements in Arabia. Similarly, there were Arab settlements in those neighbouring lands. So the neighbouring thought and cultures had already influenced the Arabs. By the advent of Islam and its expansion, through conquest and propagation, the contacts began to increase in both frequency and intensity, in the very first century of Islam.

But since the beginning of the second century, foreign thought and culture began to assert themselves and increasingly began to influence Islamic thought, such as (a) the Ash‘arites and their anthropomorphic views of Jewish origin about the deity, (b) the Mu‘tazilites and their extreme views of negating all divine attributes, (c) the peripatetic views about the primal matter, and (d) the Pythagorean view of presenting the system of creation in mathematical and arithmetical forms. The symbolic, alphabetical, astrological, alchemistic, and other theurgical sciences and cults current in those countries since the ancient civilization of the Chaldeans, Babylonians, and Egyptians and even of India and China exerted their own influence in different degrees over Islamic literature.

The vestiges and traces of all these cults and cultures can be found in scholastic literature of Muslims of the medieval ages. The Treatise of Ikhwan al-Sufi, the work of Alchem attributed to Jaber ibn Hayyan-e Sufi, who is supposed to have learnt from the sixth Imam of the House, Ja‘far as-Sadiq, and the work of a person named Ja‘far, ascribed to the same Imam, are examples of foreign schools of thought introduced into Islamic literature or mixed up with it. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, neo-Platonism and Manichaeism had undeniable influence upon Islamic literature. Platonic and Aristotelian schools dominated the whole range of Islamic thought. The Qur’an and Sunnah were interpreted in light of these schools of thought. The Muslim thinkers grouped themselves into two schools, of Isharaq-Platonic and Mashsha‘in-Aristotelian (Peripatetic).

These were in addition to the two theological schools of the Mu‘tazilites and Asha‘arites. These schools and the main and the various mixtures of them were termed as Islamic philosophy and its various branches. Al-Farabi and Avicenna are the leaders of the Mashsha‘in. Sheikh al-Israq, al-Ghazzali and other theomystic chiefs are basically Platonic. Mu‘tazilites are more inclined towards Ishraq. All these schools have more or less depended on some spurious and apocryphal narrations which suit their views. Therefore, one should be very careful to avoid the influence of all non-Islamic sources. A sound comparative study of these schools should be made without being influenced but by the unequivocal assertions of the Qur’an as the supreme authority and next to it by the authentic and unequivocal teachings of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt as the true embodiment of the life of the Holy Prophet. These two – the Qur’an and itrat – are the heritage left by the Prophet for the guidance of humankind and one mirrors the other and in no circumstances are they separate from each other.

One should also have in mind that in the course of the study of religious doctrines one may have to face questions and problems concerning human beliefs, character or actions which are not dealt with explicitly in the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the teachings of the infallibles). This should not make one stagnant in religious or theological thoughts. The Qur’an is the last purified word of God, perfect and complete, in guiding man toward both the truth which concerns all the facts which man has to believe, and the justice which concerns all the virtuous characters and deeds which man has to develop and practice. The purified word of God is like the purified tree. The root of the purified words is firm and well-established and of ever-growing and ever-fruit-giving and far-reaching nature. Thus if any problem of a theological or practical type faces us which is not dealt within the Qur’an and the Sunnah explicitly we have to be sure it is undoubtedly dealt with in the teachings of Islam implicitly.

According to the Qur’an, the growing, fruit-giving and dynamic force running in the trunk of this purified tree or purified word of God is the sound reasoning and the unequivocal verses of the Qur’an (muhkamat) which are termed as Ummul Kitab and the authentic and unequivocal apostolic statements of the infallibles. These three sources are so inter-related that one mirrors the other and they explain each other. One has to find for the problems which one faces the requisite fruit in the purified tree in the light of the self-evident reasoning and unequivocal verses of the Qur’an and authentic and unequivocal statements of the infallible ones. Ijtihad or tafaqqaho fid-din means nothing but an all out effort to find out the implications of these three inter-related sources.

Before concluding the treatise on the definition of the revelation, it is necessary to outline the categorical principles and fundamental background in the light of which the Shi‘ah school of thought interprets the Qur’an and the Sunnah. To the Shi‘ahs these principles and backgrounds are the known facts and factors proved by the Qur’an, the Sunnah and reason. The Shi‘ah mind works to find a proper solution for the problems which concern every aspect of human life. It is with those principles which we interpret the Qur’an or interpret the apostolic narrations or other statements which are connected with Islamic ideologies as presented by the Ahl al-Bayt. For the Shi‘ahs, history and faith go together. If the historical statement is in agreement with the faith established by the verses of the Qur’an the Sunnah and sound reasoning, it is true. But if the historical statements and inferences disagree with the established faith, they should be rejected.

Summary

The main categorical principles discussed in the previous chapters are summarized below:

(1) The Existence of God: The Absolute Who is One in His essence and attributes in the true sense of Oneness, unlimited and indefinable. Any description contrary to his Oneness should be negated, and any description which is the necessary property of or implied in the idea of His Oneness should be asserted and maintained.

(2) Any anthropomorphic description of the Godhead: Any statement associating anything or any being as co-existing or co-existensive with Him in essence or attribute, is to be rejected or re-interpreted.

(3) He is the One infinite reality: There is no second, no match, no equal, no partner for Him. Anything other than Him is finite, created and sustained by Him.

(4) The Infinite creates the finite being but He is not incarnated in one or the whole of the finite beings.

(5) No finite being, however perfect, can be considered as the incarnation of the Infinite One. All the finite beings, whether intellectual, physical, whether matter or form, or material or spiritual, good nature or bad, all are sustained by His creative conscious might and pre-planned grace and justice. Pervading, All-compassionate, All-witnessing, Self-existent, Self-living, Self-subsistent, All-sustainer, Unique in Oneness and Fullness, All-in-all, Transcendent, Perpetual, All-mighty, All-gracious, All-just, All-wise.

(6) The terms universal justice and universal grace are two different aspects of one and the same principle attribute of God responsible for the manifestation of His creative, administrative and legislative will. The whole universe and every part and particle of it are manifestations of His creative, administrative or legislative will.

(7) It is part of His legislative will and authority over the entire universe which He has appointed Adam and a particular chosen lineage of His issue as His vicegerents in the form of Prophets, to deliver the divine message and His legislative will to humankind or in the form of Imams (leaders) to lead every man towards the ultimate destiny required by his inherent capacity. So the establishment of the vicegerency and sending of new messengers, and sending along with them the revealed books and scales and sufficient proofs of the truth, are the requirements of His universal grace, justice and wisdom.

(8) His Absolute Oneness and the attributes which it implies prove His will is purposeful. His actions are for the best and aimed at the ultimate purpose.

(9) The observable part of His acts are the transitory and incomplete stages. It should be necessarily followed by other progressive stages beyond our observation. The last stage is the ultimate purpose of creation as a whole. This is termed as Qiyamat-e Kubra or the total resurrection.

(10) This ultimate end must be one with the principle attribute responsible for the act of creation and other manifestations of His will. The aim is not to gain anything for Himself but to bless the creatures. The purpose of creation is the necessary expression of His grace, justice and wisdom which are to be manifested in the final stage termed the “Day of Total Resurrection.” Thus, the Absolute Oneness of God implies the fundamental articles of faith: justice, prophethood, vicegerency (Imamate) and resurrection. They are inter-related. Each implies numerous issues of belief, conduct and action, one related to the other.

On the issues of a theoretical nature connected with the belief in the Absolute Oneness of God, the following are very important:

(a) He cannot be seen, sensed or perceived by any external senses in any stage of the life of any finite being here or in the hereafter. Nor can he be conceived or encompassed by imagination or reasoning. He is realizable and is and will be realized in some way or other by every creature. The term liqa (meeting Him) mentioned in the Qur’an and the apostolic statements is misinterpreted to mean He is visible. It means realization and certainty, as Ali explains in his own saying, “I do not worship God whom I do not see but behold, that the eyes do not see Him through the process of sight. The hearts have seen Him through the realization and certainties of faith.”

(b) Of the divine attributes some are totally identical with His Oneness. Some are identical from one aspect and non-identical from another aspect, and some are purely relative attributes ascribed to Him in views of His actions.

(c) The revealed books of God are words of God and are His works, they are created by Him. Some Muslim theologians believe the Qur’an is an uncreated work of God, co-existent with Him or the “Christ” as the Christians believe to be the “word of God with God” uncreated by Him. The belief that the Qur’an or any other word or book of God was not created is one of the absurdities of foreign origin which has crept into the credulous mind of some of the Muslim theologians of the second century A.H. This should not make one go to the other extreme of considering the Qur’an as the word and work of the Prophet. This view has been ascribe by some orientalists to a particular group among the Mu‘tazilite school. The allegation is doubtful, but if it is true, is not Islam. The Qur’an as revealed to the heart of the Prophet and uttered by him is verbatim the word, book and work of God. It was created as the extreme traditionists or Asha‘rites hold.

(d) God is the Almighty in that he does whatever He wills. But His will is based on His grace, justice and wisdom. The manifestation of His will or the order of creation begins not in the sense of time, but in the sense of rank, grade and order with the highest possible and most comprehensive finite being. He begins with the finite beings which are comparatively nearest to Him, in space and time but in reality and perfection. That being is the first, in the order of creation, the first creation (awala khalaqin) mentioned in 21:104 of the Qur’an which is termed in the authentic apostolic statements of al-‘aql, the intellect, the light, and the spirit of Muhammad, upon whom be peace, the creative and active will.

All these terms refer to the same created reality which stands first in the order of comparative perfection. The best term for it in Arabic is Muhammad, “The Praised One,” in its real and true adjectival existence is posterior to matter and bound to the requirements of space and time, position, succession and graduation. They are reflections and reactions of the action of the active and administrative entities of the arc of descent. If this distinction between the beings and events of the two arcs is taken into consideration, many issues in the Qur’an and apostolic statements will be properly understood.

One action may have several reactions of different nature and value. One creative, administrative, or legislative act from God, directly though the angelical order, may produce several results in the arc of ascent, of which some may be in utter contrast with the other. One of the most important issues, based on the above distinction between the peculiarities of the two arcs, is a question of spirit (ruh) and soul (nafs), the two terms used frequently in the Qur’an and the apostolic statements. The term spirit (ruh) is used in the Qur’an mostly in the sense of the things proceeding from the creative, administrative or legislative will of God. The soul, self (nafs) or the thing to which every conscious being refers to “I” is used in the Qur’an in the sense of the effect or reflection produced by the divine will’s agency in a particular portion of material ground after reaching a certain stage of development.

The creative action may be ascribed to the sub-ordinate angelical or natural agencies, but actually it is to be ascribed to the creative will and might of God, the Absolute One. This creative will and act of God is one in its origin. It is the manifestation of His universal grace but it produces various effects in various grades of the arc of descent. They in turn produce various effects or reflections on the material grounds of various potentialities. This creature will and act is prior in order and rank to the creatures of the arc of descent and are prior in time also to the products of the arc of ascent. The sub-ordinate angelical agencies functioning by His command are also prior in time and order to the souls produced. The action, unconditioned with the peculiarity of the ground is one, but the reaction conditioned with different grounds will be different in nature.

The same is the case with His legislative will and command. It may cause one to rise to heaven and the other to be dragged to hell. It may guide one and misguide the other. Had there been no order to do this and to do that, there would have been no ground for obedience and disobedience. The misguidance of one and the guidance of the other may be ascribed to the same order of God which is the manifestation of His universal grace. But the guidance is His and the misguidance is due to the short-coming of the one who failed to react submissively.

It is not un-Islamic to believe in the oneness of the creative, administrative or legislative act of God for the best, as the manifestation of His universal grace and universal will and at the same time to believe in the multiplicity of the result of that one action due to the variety and multiplicity of the recipient grounds. This view solves many problems discussed in the Qur’an and the apostolic statements:

(i) To believe in the prior existence of human spirits to their bodies, and the highest priority in existence of the spirits of the Prophet and the infallible members of his house to all other created beings and to their own tinat (original clay), and to believe in the posterity of the human souls in creation to their tinat and their bodies. What is said to be prior in creation to the body is the spirit proceeding from the divine will and what is said to be posterior in creation to the body is the soul (nafs), the ego or the reflection conditioned with the recipient state of the ground to which it reaches.

(ii) Justification of ascribing behaviour to the creation of the creative uncaused-cause and justification of holding the created beings responsible for their defects; this being due to the lack of recipient capacity which is inherent and uncaused. The grace of God which manifests in His guiding will is reflected in recipient grounds. They are the selected servants of God unfettered with the possible defects of the ground. They receive His gift in full. There are other receivers also whose inherent nature rejects the divine gift and reacts reversely.

(iii) Creation means bringing into existence the essence, mahier, tinat or any idea or object which is not self-existing. It means to bring a non-being into being, whether in the mind or outside the mind.

The use of the term “uncaused” about God, the real cause of all causes, and about the essences, or about things other than “existence” should not mislead one into a dualistic view of creation. Dualism recognizes two eternal and independent uncaused-causes, of bringing good things into existence, and the other bringing bad things into existence. It holds two creative causes of utter contrast working in the system of creation producing opposite effects of good and evil. They (causes) are termed as yazdan and akramun respectively. The theory of considering spirit and matter as co-existing realities, one acting upon the other, is another form of dualism. But the Islamic Unitarian view recognizes only one self-existing absolute uncaused-cause, the creator of every finite thing. Nothing can be held as second, equal, match or rival, uncreated and co-existing with Him.

Once an idea or thing is brought into existence, of it becomes a subject of existence, all the analytical ideas contained becomes a subject of existence, all the analytical ideas contained becomes a subject of existence, all the analytical ideas contained in the thing (which becomes the subject of existence) or the ideas which are the necessary property of the said thing, will automatically come into existence. They are termed as uncaused in which the creator does not create the analytical contents or its necessary properties as an independent act. Once a given dimension comes into existence in the mind of an architect or in the region outside his mind, the idea of divisibility, which is the inherent property of dimension, will automatically follow. It does not require an independent cause; divisibility is uncaused, it needs not independent creative cause. But it owes its existence to the creator of the given dimension, indirectly. It is incapable of receiving existence from the creator directly.

This is one of the basic metaphysical propositions on which many theological problems dealt within the Qur’an and apostolic statements depend. Unless this proposition is properly grasped one should refrain from discussing or even thinking about the question of pre-destination, determinism and free will.

(iv) The individual souls or egos – the psychic forces which produce (i) rotational movement in the central part of the atom or of the solar system, (ii) nourishment and self-reproduction in vegetation, (iii) from movement and sense in an animal and (iv) power of self-expression, invention and discovery, have no existence prior to their individual bodies. They are the developed forms of their bodies. The bodies as individual grounds, recipient of radiation from the corresponding spirit, reflect what they have received. This reflection is the individual soul of the body. Thus all the individual souls are developed along with the development of the individual bodies. No soul as an individual entity can have previous existence independent of its present body and then lose its independence and become dependent on the present body. It is impossible.

It implies bringing into existence the same entity which has gone out of existence. Therefore, the transmigration of a soul from one body to another, the existence of a soul independent of all bodies even for a time and its becoming thereafter dependent on a particular body, the postulation of a conscious stage in any form for the soul of a human a priori to the present state and after are impossible because they imply reproducing what has gone out of existence. It is also anti-Qur’anic. In 56:60 – 62 the Qur’an says, “We are not incapable of changing your moulds and produce (create) you in what (a state or stage where) you know not at all. And you have certainly known the first state or stage of your coming into being, then why do you not remember it?”

Here the Qur’an asserts there are states of existence ahead of the individuals which are unknown to them as yet. It also asserts there is a first state of man’s existence which is known to humankind and they have to remember it. It is a fact that no state is known to man other than the present state of existence.

Therefore, there is no other state of existence to be termed as the first other than the present. The theory of the individual souls of the children of Adam having been brought out of Adam’s loins into consciousness prior to the present state and of their having been made witness over their selves (misaq-e ‘alam-e dhar) is absolutely non-Islamic and against what the Qur’an clearly asserts (vide 56:61 and 7:172 and the author’s notes on it). There are several narrations from Shi‘ah and Sunni sources in this connection and the theory is advocated by a great number of Muslim theologians of both schools. In the first instance, it seems very difficult to reject all the narrations and the common beliefs of the people, but a deeper study of all the narrations and their comparison with what the Qur’an asserts will make one sure the theory from both the Qur’anic and rational points of view is untenable.

The narrations indicating priority of the spirits of the individuals to their bodies in creation can be reconciled with the Qur’anic and apostolic assertions which the conscious selves are created along with the body and have undergone development along with the bodies. The selves are material, totally dependent on their bodies in the beginning but in the course of their development they became gradually independent of them. When the cognitive self departs from the body it remains independent of the body from which it developed. It may assume a similar, better or worse body and form in the hereafter, but in the non-terrestrial region, corresponding to the character formed in his life. Tanasukh, or change of form, is of two kinds:

(1) departed soul assuming, through the process of rebirth, a new material body corresponding to the character it formed in his previous material body or return of the departed soul to another material body through the process of rebirth or

(2) immediate assumption of the departed soul from a form finer and more sensitive than the material form, from which it departed; the immaterial form is in complete correspondence to the character formed when it had a material body.

Of these two kinds, the first is denounced by Muslims as against the principles of the life hereafter identified by the Qur’an and Sunnah. The second is asserted by reason and confirmed by the Qur’an and Sunnah. The distinctive aspect of the life hereafter as asserted in the Qur’an and the Sunnah is the cognitive self will be alive to what was done in the previous life and the pleasures and sufferings are the result of what was done before. These two should not be confused with each other. All the Qur’anic passages and apostolic statements which indicate the departed soul will assume new forms in the hereafter refer to the second kind of transformation. But some Muslim theologians, misled by non-Muslim advocates of material rebirth of the soul, tried to interpret such passages to support their views.

However, it should be borne in mind which in essence the Shi‘ah thought is against the concept of the material rebirth of the soul, which is propounded by Hinduism and ancient Platonic, neo-Platonic and the Aryan mythologists to which some saints of the Sufi order and ultra-Shi‘ites of Qaramatian tendencies are also inclined. Any being other than the Absolute One infinite is therefore created. The finite beings, whether in the arc of descent or ascent differ from each other in degree of reality, the higher in the degree of reality is closer to the Absolute.

In the hierarchy of the arc of ascent “man” (Adam) and his chosen issues as vicegerents of God are foremost in degree of reality and nearness to the Absolute. The Holy Prophet is presented in the Qur’an as the universal grace of God superior to all his predecessors in submissiveness. And the Qur’an, as confirmed by the Prophet, has presented these holy members of his house as spiritually identical with him. Therefore, any effort to bring them down to the state of other followers of the Prophet is anti-Ahl al-Bayt. The question of the infallibility of the vicegerents of God has already been dealt with in detail.

Here the idea is to point out that some theologians who could not interpret the Qur’anic passages which apparently do not agree with the conception of the absolute infallibility of the vicegerents have adopted an apologetic term, Tark-e Awla, meaning “exchanging better for the good.” They apply this term to the passages of the Qur’an which appear to accuse the Prophets of committing mistakes, e.g. Adam approaching the tree which caused him to quit paradise. According to these theologians it was not a fault amounting to sin; it was a permissible deed though it was better not to do it.

Thus Adam’s approach to the tree was a diversion form better to good. This story of apologetic terms and arguments which subject the vicegerents of God to commit such diversions from superior to inferior deeds, undermining their normative status is unacceptable. The reader should refrain from applying this term to the vicegerents of God and seek a more appropriate interpretation for the Qur’anic passage in question.

Prayer and repentance which are uttered by the vicegerents of God do not imply any sin or diversion form a better to a lesser deed. On the contrary, those vehement duplicative expressions indicate their sense of creaturely defects which would not be covered by His blessings. In the beginning of the last four lines of the celebrated Du‘a-e Kumayl, Ali addresses God as follows: “Oh One Who is quickly pleased! Forgive one who possesses nothing but prayer (needy supplications), and it is You whatever you will.” Here Ali exposes his creaturely needs before the creative All-gracious One. Prayer means nothing but to be alive to one’s creaturely nothingness and His unlimited grace. It is this constant prayer which makes the vicegerents of God infallible and it does not attribute to them any sin or improper deed.

Another important point to be noted is that in several chapters of the Qur’an dealing with the settlement of Adam on Earth after the loss of paradise of animal comforts, God asserts Adam and those of his issues who follow His guidance are secure from any fear or grief:

فَإِمَّا يَأْتِيَنَّكُمْ مِنِّي هُدًى فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَايَ فَلَا يَضِلُّ وَلَا يَشْقَىٰ {123}

“Those who follow My guidance shall not suffer fear or grief. They shall not go astray and suffer spiritual hardship” (20:123).

These assurances placed the infallible issues of Adam and even the true followers of them above the influence of the evil forces working in the material realm. Restricting the effectiveness of evil forces and practices to His will, the Qur’an condemns those who adopt such practices as their profession and those who are apprehensive of the effect of such unusual practices.

The Qur’an asserts that sorcery and the devices of this kind are a mixture of devilish devices and misinterpretations of some scriptural instructions, and this is done by people of the Book such as Jews, Christians, and even Muslims who have thrown the unequivocal words of God behind their backs. All these occultic prescriptions and practices are innovations of those who, in the garb of religious profession, try to take advantage of people’s ignorance. The traditions which indicate the Jews cast a spell on the Holy Prophet and he was affected by the extent which he was under the impression he was doing or saying something when he was not actually doing or saying so, are fabrications of those who ignore the Qur’an. Even the traditions about the Holy Prophet which he used to be epileptic and abnormal conditions during revelation are contrary to the Qur’an and reason.

مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا ۖ سِيمَاهُمْ فِي وُجُوهِهِمْ مِنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُودِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ ۚ وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِي الْإِنْجِيلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهُ فَآزَرَهُ فَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَىٰ عَلَىٰ سُوقِهِ يُعْجِبُ الزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيظَ بِهِمُ الْكُفَّارَ ۗ وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْهُمْ مَغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا {29}

Muhammad is the Apostle of God, and those who are with him are vehement against the infidels, compassionate among themselves. You see them bowing down, prostrating themselves in obeisance (unto) God seeking grace from God and (His) pleasure. Their marks are on their faces (foreheads), because of the effect of their (frequent) prostrations. This is their description in the Torah, and their description in the Evangel, as a seed which puts forth its shoot, then strengthens it, it grows stout and rises firm from its stalk, delighting the sowers – through them he may enrage the unbelievers. God has promised those who believe and do good deeds, forgiveness and a great recompense. (48:29)

  • 1. سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ {53}
    أَلَا إِنَّهُمْ فِي مِرْيَةٍ مِنْ لِقَاءِ رَبِّهِمْ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُحِيطٌ {54}

    We shall show them Our portents on the horizons and within themselves until now it will be manifest unto them in which it is the Truth. Do not your Lord suffice, since He is witness over all things? How! Are they still in doubt about the meeting with their Lord? Lo! Is not He surrounding all things? (41:53 – 54)

  • 2.
    لِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا فِيهِنَّ ۚ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ {120}

    I spoke unto them only which You commanded me, (saying), “Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” I was a witness of them while I dwelt among them, and when You look at me You was the watcher over them. You are witness over all things. (5:120)

  • 3.
    يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ عَلَىٰ فَتْرَةٍ مِنَ الرُّسُلِ أَنْ تَقُولُوا مَا جَاءَنَا مِنْ بَشِيرٍ وَلَا نَذِيرٍ ۖ فَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ بَشِيرٌ وَنَذِيرٌ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ {19}

    They indeed have disbelieved who say “Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary.” Say, “Who then can do aught against Allah, if He had willed to destroy the Messiah, son of Mary, and his mother and everyone on Earth?” Allah is the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. He created what He will. And Allah is able to do all things.

  • 4.
    قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ {1}
    اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ {2}
    لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ {3}
    وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ {4}

    In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
    Say, “He is All, the One! Allah, the eternally besought of all! He begets not nor was He begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him. (112:1 – 4)

  • 5. فَاطِرُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ جَعَلَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا وَمِنَ الْأَنْعَامِ أَزْوَاجًا ۖ يَذْرَؤُكُمْ فِيهِ ۚ لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ ۖ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ {11}

    The creator of the heavens and the earth. He has made for you pairs of yourselves, and of the cattle also pairs, whereby He multiplies you. Naught is as likeness, and He is the Hearer, the Seer. (42:11)

  • 6. انْظُرْ كَيْفَ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ وَلَلْآخِرَةُ أَكْبَرُ دَرَجَاتٍ وَأَكْبَرُ تَفْضِيلًا {21}

    See how We prefer one above another and verily the hereafter will be greater in degrees and greater in perfection. (17:21)

  • 7. وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا {7}

    And a soul and Him who perfected it. (91:7)

  • 8. وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ ۖ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُمْ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا {85}

    They will ask you about the spirit. Say, “The spirit (operates) at my Lord’s command, while you have been given only a smattering of knowledge.” (17:85)

  • 9. See Appendix
  • 10. Here some may argue as to how matter can be considered identical in the slightest degree with or consciousness, ignoring the fact that consciousness is the property of immaterial and non-dimensional beings. For consciousness means the presence of the object to the subject (the known to the knower), which implies apriori, the presence of the subject to itself. And matter being dimensional, consisting of geometrical parts absent from the other is as a whole absent from itself and consequently absent from all other objects, and therefore, unconscious and totally void of life. So it is in utter contrast not only with the absolute reality but even with all the immaterial and non-dimensional finite beings, which fill the gap between absolute reality and matter. This is the reason why matter and mind are generally presented as two substances in extreme contrast. Their association in the living material beings such as man, animal, and plant is one of the oldest metaphysical problems of importance, around which many schools of thought have been developed.

    In answer to the argument, it is out of place to discuss here all the views and solutions forwarded to this problem. It is enough here to note that whatever is said about the contrast between mind and matter is true when they are views from a dualistic angle, when each is viewed as a substance in itself, independent of the other, and as such the problem of their association remains unsolved as all the proposed solutions are unsatisfactory. But from the Unitarian point of view, be it of the theist or the atheist, there is no problem at all. In the case of the former (the theist) nothing can be termed as substance in the true sense of the word other than the Absolute One. The immaterial objects of the arc or descent are radiations of the Real One in deflective and reflective grades, which terminate in four-dimensional matter or space/time. Matter is nothing but termination (terminus) of the arc of descent, held by the immediate cohesive force or power of immaterial nature. That force, to which the four-dimensional continuity named matter owes its appearance, is the psychic or the spiritual force in association with matter, not as a co-relative but as the immediate sustainer.

    To the atheist, mind is nothing more than a material phenomenon, the result of complicated material processes. Both views agree one of the two is the real and the other is phenomenal. Either matter is the devolutionary phenomenon of the actual mind, psyche or spirit which loses its actuality in the downward process and regains it in the upwards (evolutionary) process, as it has already been pointed out or the mind, psyche or spirit is the phenomenal development of the primal matters potentiality, a theory which is held by atheists but never proved.

  • 11. فَتَعَالَى اللَّهُ الْمَلِكُ الْحَقُّ ۗ وَلَا تَعْجَلْ بِالْقُرْآنِ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يُقْضَىٰ إِلَيْكَ وَحْيُهُ ۖ وَقُلْ رَبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا {114}

    Then exalted by Allah, the True King! And hasten not (oh Muhammad) with the Qur’an ere its revelation has been perfected unto you can say “My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” (20:114)

  • 12. Bihar al-Anwar II, by Majlisi
  • 13. سَتَجِدُنِي إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ {102}
    فَلَمَّا أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُ لِلْجَبِينِ {103}
    وَنَادَيْنَاهُ أَنْ يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ {104}
    قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ الرُّؤْيَا ۚ إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ {105}
    إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَهُوَ الْبَلَاءُ الْمُبِينُ {106}
    وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ {107}

    And when (the son) reached (the age of) working with him, said he, “Oh my son! Verily I saw in a dream in which I sacrifice you. Now what is your view?” said (the son), “Oh father, Do what you are bidden. If God wills, you will find me of the steadfast ones.” And when they both had surrendered (themselves) to the will of God and he (Abraham) threw him (the son) upon his forehead. And We called out unto him, “Oh Abraham! Indeed you have proved true the dream. Verily thus do We recompense the doers of good!” Verily, this is an open trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice. (37:102 – 107)

  • 14. The Holy Spirit (Ruh) mentioned in the verse assumed the form of a man and appeared before Mary when she retired into complete seclusion. The Qur’an declares she said to the Spirit, “Verily I fly for refuge in the Beneficent (God) from thee. (Be gone from me) if you are God-fearing.” The Spirit said that as a divine messenger he was giving a glad tiding which she would have a purified soul (i.e. Jesus). She again felt nervous and said that how could it be possible when no man had touched her and she was not unchaste. The Spirit said the Lord says, “It is easy for me and We will make him (Jesus) a sign (miracle) (of yours) unto the people and a mercy from Us. It is a matter decreed.” (19:17 – 21). Those who have no knowledge of and faith in the super-natural power assumes human form, and she conceived by a well-made man who appeared to her in normal course. It is a total blasphemy, and a rejection of the Qur’an.
  • 15. In some languages the words Satan, Pharaoh, Caesar, etc. might have been treated as proper nouns but actually these words are common nouns or titles used for entities of certain status. In this sense it can be used both in the singular and plural. The Qur’an has used Satan not only as a proper noun for the entity hostile to Adam but it has used it also in the sense of any evil entity in the form of a man or something else who is hostile to humanity. In the apostolic statements also Pharaoh and Caesar have been used as common nouns for despots who rule over humankind with no justifiable merits, such as Fara‘na has been used as the plural of Fir‘aun (Pharaoh) and Kaya‘sara as the plural of Kaiser (Caesar). Similar to these usages it is supposed the word Azar used in the Qur’an, as the father of Ibrahim, was actually the title of the patriarch of the Assyrian tribe. So Azar was not the actual father of Ibrahim, he was the patriarch who was look after Ibrahim as an orphan.
  • 16. Sermon of Ali ibn Abi Talib, upon whom be peace, Nahj al-Balagha, 184 or 191, depending on the edition.
  • 17. وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ {3}
    إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ {4}
    عَلَّمَهُ شَدِيدُ الْقُوَىٰ {5}
    ذُو مِرَّةٍ فَاسْتَوَىٰ {6}
    وَهُوَ بِالْأُفُقِ الْأَعْلَىٰ {7}

    And nor he speaks of (his own) inclination. It (the wording) is not aught but a revelation revealed (unto him). Taught him the One intense in power. The One endued with wisdom, (and) hence he took an overview position, while he was in the highest horizon. (53: 3 – 7)

  • 18. Vide chapter 37:139 – 143, chapter 21:87, chapter 10:98, chapter 48:48 – 49. It is said Jonah entered the boat to avoid the chastisement. While sailing they were hit by a huge storm. The owner of the boat announced there was among them a slave who had run away from his master. Jonah said it was he, but other travellers in the boat who were much impressed by the nobility of Jonah did not believe him. A ballot was, therefore, drawn several times but each time Jonah’s name was drawn. Jonah immediately jumped into the ocean and was swallowed by the fish. Jonah prayed to God in the belly of the fish, La ilaha illa anta subhanaka inni kunto minazzalameen, i.e. “There is no God save You, You are the pure and verily I am of the unjust ones.” He was caused to be cast out of the belly of the fish, and was restored to life on Earth as an Apostle to his people, forgiven by Allah in answer to his pleas of mercy and forgiveness.
  • 19. Renowned sources of supplication (du‘a), prayers, litanies, invocations for different moments in one’s life, and the life of the community, and for special occasions:

    1. Nahj al-Balagha – Sermons of Imam Ali, upon whom be peace.
    2. al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyyah (also known as al-Sahifat al-Kamila) – Prayers of the fourth Imam Ali Zain al-‘Abideen, upon whom be peace.
    3. Bihar al-Anwar (Oceans of Light) – by ‘Allama Muhammad al-Baqir Majlisi (d. 1110 A.H. 1698 A.D. or 1111 A.H./1700 A.D.) Chapter on Du‘a and other sources mentioned in the book.
    4. Mafatih al-Jinan (Keys to the Garden of Paradise) – by Sheikh Abbas Qummi (d. 1359 A.H./1940/41).
    5. A Shi‘ite Anthology – by ‘Allama Sayyid Muhammad Hussain Tabataba’i, translated by William C. Chittick (Muhammadi Trust: Britain, 1980), English version of the prayer (supplication) of the third Imam Hussain, upon whom be peace, for the Day of ‘Arafah (the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah during the pilgrimage of Mecca) is included in it.

  • 20. فَإِذَا سَوَّيْتُهُ وَنَفَخْتُ فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِي فَقَعُوا لَهُ سَاجِدِينَ {29}

    So when I complete him and breathe into him My spirit, fall you down unto him prostrating (in obeisance). (15:29)

    The word isteva means the hold and domination of the Infinite over all finite beings including the highest and the lowest with His All-embracing Knowledge. It expresses the all-encompassing view of the ‘Arsh which has no dimensions. It negates the view of anthropomorphic schools of thought who imagine that God is sitting on a throne. It is un-Islamic. Another point in the use of isteva alal ‘arsh in the verse after pointing to the process of creation is to show the creation of the order and its administration is His (vide 11:7, 25:59, 50:38, 53:4). (Extracted from Pooya’s note, Translation of the Qur’an by Mir Ahmad Ali, first edition, p. 578.)

  • 21. Divine Days (Ayyamullah). See the Qur’an: 7:57, 10:3, 11:7 25:59, 50:38, 57:4. These verses confirm the total period of creation does not exceed six days, and it is also pointed out in which one divine day is equal to 1000 days on Earth and in some cases 50,000. The restoration of all values on the Day of Judgment can take the place in the shortest moment within a twinkling of an eye. The Creator alone knows the duration of time which is beyond any imagination on that plane. For the significance of al-yaum in the verse relating to the day of Ghadir, see Chapter One, note 22 (f and g).
  • 22. See Chapter One, notes 22 (e) for details. It refers to the prayer of Ali, upon whom be peace, when he gave alms in the state of ruku (genuflection).
  • 23. “Exalted loins” and “purified wombs” mentioned in the descriptive salutation (ziarat) are addressed to the third Imam Hussain, upon whom be peace, known as Ziarat-e Warith, and similar to this is mentioned in the descriptive salutation to the Holy Prophet in the salutation known as Zirat-e Jam‘h (vide Mafatih al-Jinan and other relevant books). All these salutations are in amplified form of Ayat- Tat’hir and other Qur’anic descriptions of the chosen issues of Adam.
  • 24. The “days of ignorance” do not refer to a particular period of history. According to the Qur’an, ignorance or a pagan tendency is a peculiar attitude of the human mind as opposed to Islam or submission to the will of God. So Islam and ignorance are two opposite mental attitudes which assert themselves throughout the history of civilization.
  • 25. The origin of the theory of “Logos,” word of God, originated from the Jewish school of thought in Alexandria, and later was evolved and maintained by the Pauline school of Christianity (vide the first few verses of the first chapter of the fourth Gospel). The Christians presented Christ as the word of God, the third person in the Trinity, therefore, “non-created.” The traditionists of the Muslim school of thought headed by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Muhammad ibn Ismail Bukhari, Muslim ibn Hajaj-e Nishapuri consider Qur’an as the word of God and maintain it is one of the attributes of God co-existent with the presence of God, therefore uncreated. The createdness and non-createdness as the word of God was one of the most controversial issues between the rationalist school (Mut‘tazilite), headed by Mamun the caliph and the traditionist school (‘Asharites), headed by Ahmad ibn Hanbal. According to the Shias it is true the Qur’an is the word of God revealed to the heart of the Holy Prophet and uttered by him, but the word of God as Ali says in His act not attribute. Moreover, the attributes also are not co-existent with the essence as the ‘Asharites would maintain.
  • 26. ‘Allama Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi relates from Sheikh Saduq a detailed description. Here it is in brief. Abu Talib, at the height of the hot season started for Shams (Syria) taking Muhammad who was then eight years old. As soon as the heat of the sun became oppressive, a small cloud, white as snow, came, and saluting Muhammad, cast a refreshing change over him, attending him wherever he went. “As we approached Busray (Busrah),” said Abu Talib, “the hermitage of a certain Nasaranee (Christian) recluse was seen advancing towards us with speed of a race horse. On going up it stopped before us with the astonished owner, Bahira (a Christian monk) by the name, who was always so absorbed in contemplation that he never allowed the least to those who passed by his cell, and never even spoke to any person. When he found his hermitage in motion, and now the qafilah (caravan) approaching, he at once perceived it as the Prophet. On coming up he said to him, “If what I have read and heard is true, you are he, and none other.” Then the monk asked Abu Talib’s permission to present the refreshment he had brought to the wonderful child, who inquired, “Is it for me alone, or may my fellow travellers partake of it with me?” The recluse said it was little, but all he had. However he might do as he pleased. Accordingly he (the child) said, “Bismillah” and began to feed the whole party of 170 people following his example. After they were all satisfied the little offering of Bahira seemed to have been untouched. The monk, astonished at what he witnessed, blessed the head of the Prophet, and said, “By the truth of the Lord Christ, this is he!” But the people present did not comprehend what he meant. (Hiyat al-Qulub, vol. two by ‘Allama al-Majlisi, translated by Rev. James L. Merrick, The Zahra Trust, San Antonio, TX US.)
  • 27. Commenting on the Qur’anic 34:37, Ali upon whom be peace, says, “Surely God, the Glorious and High, has made remembrance (of Him) as a means to keep the centre of human cognition and volition polished and pure from the rust of vegeto-animal, sensual desires. It is through remembrance in which one hears after being deaf and through it one sees after being blind, and through it one submits after being in revolt. God Almighty and High be His bounties, has incessantly and in every moment and in the intervals between His messengers and such of His servants in whose minds He has whispered, and with whose thought He has talked (meaning who are inspired by Him), those ‘chosen ones,’ well-awakened with the light of the inspiration spread throughout their sense of sight, hearing, reasoning and feeling, undertook to remind people of the ‘divine days’ ahead of them and warn them of His stand (against the wrongdoers).

    Thus, the inspired ones continued to be like the guides in the wilderness. Whosoever adopts the straight path they commend the path adopted by him, they gave him the good news of salvation awaiting him, and whosoever deviates from the right path to the left or right they censor him and warn him of the loss awaiting him. Thus, they are beacons in the darkness ahead of man, and are the guides in the confusing and bewildering states and stages of human life. Surely for the remembrance of God there have been selected ones who have adopted the remembrance in preference to all other temporal occupations. So no transaction has ever occupied their mind and deviated them from the remembrance of God. They cover the length of their worldly life with remembrance of god shouting in the ears of negligent ones the divine warnings against obnoxious deeds prohibited by God.

    They order people to do justice and they themselves practice it. They are absorbed in the light sublime in which it seems they have passed from the temporal light to the light hereafter as if they are there seeing things beyond the terrestrial life. It seems they are looking over the unseen states and conditions, the inhabitants, the intermediary stage between the temporal life and the resurrection and the lengthy changes therein.

    (Extract from Sermon 217 Nahj ul-Balagha by Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, Volume Two which speaks of his own personal experience, Egypt edition, no. 19, Pakistan edition. Translated in Urdu by Mufu Ja‘far Hussain.)

  • 28. The Pharaoh dreamt that a fire was coming from the Israelites’’ dwellings around his palace and destroying it. The scholars of ancient scriptures interpreted this to mean a boy, born to the Israelites, would bring perdition to him. The Pharaoh ordered every male child of the Israelites to be killed. When Moses was born, his mother was inspired to put the baby in a box and float it away into the river. The box with Moses in it, floated into the channel of the river which passed into the Pharaoh’s palace garden. Assia, the wife of the Pharaoh, picked up the box. The radiance of divine beauty of the child enchanted her and the Pharaoh, and they decided to adopt the child. (20:38 – 40)

    The box was made by Haskeel, son of Saboor, a carpenter and cousin of the Pharaoh. When the inspired mother approached Hazkeel to prepare the box for Moses, he made it but then went to inform the Pharaoh of the child’s birth but he went dumb on the way. So he returned to his shop where he became well. He again went to inform the Pharaoh but now he became blind and dumb and was forced to return. He was convinced the child (Moses) was the expected Prophet. He declared his belief in God and Moses. He became well and hid his faith, but always advised people to have belief in the Almighty God and the person (Moses) who was preaching the right cause. (38:3 – 7 and 40:28 – 29.) He is called Momin-e al-Fira‘un.

  • 29. Abdul Muttalib felt alone against the aggression of the mischievous Quraysh, and had vowed in the Ka‘ba that God Most High would bestow on him ten sons and he would immolate the favourite one. He was blessed with ten sons. When they grew up he took Abdallah (the father of the Prophet), the dearest one, to fulfill his vow. At the crises, ‘Autekah, one of the daughters of ‘Abdul Muttalib, besought her father to cast lots between her brother and is given number of camels and increase the number until the Most High should accept the substitution. ‘Abdul Muttalib offered ten camels and cast lots between them and his son, the arrow pointed at him. The number was increased until 100 camels were set apart as a substitute and the arrow pointed at the camels. Great rejoicing followed. ‘Abdul Muttalib and all the Quraysh around him shouted “Allahu Akbar.” The “great sacrifice” (zebhe ‘asim) was postponed until the tragedy of Karbala, which save Islam from destruction.
  • 30. Mubahala. See Chapter One, Note 22 (h).
  • 31. Shahadat: After a careful study of the following verses and the author’s notes given in the Translation of the Qur’an by Mir Ahmad Ali, one will have no doubt the words Shahadat and Shaheda and their derivative forms in the Qur’an have been used to mean witnessing or observing a thing or being (chs. s:124 and 143, 4:41, 5:117, 10:91 and 195, 16:84 and 89, and 22:78). It is a state of knowledge of a thing as it is in itself and utmost and unshakable certainty. It is a state of direct communion of the knower and the known or a state of presence of the known object to the knower. There are numerous shades of meaning of Shahadat which signify the highest stage of realization or observation of a thing. This root and its various derivative forms have been used in the Qur’an signifying the same state of certitude and realization. It has been used about and applied to God, the angels and people gifted with knowledge of things.

    It has been used for the people who were eyewitnesses of certain events and the people who have faith in something unseen with utmost certainty and unshakable conviction. This term has been applied to God, the Omniscient Creator of everything. He is not only with everything but He is closer to everything than the thing to itself. It has been used in the same sense but in a lesser degree of state of realization attained by the high intellectual entities who are in communion with the Absolute Reality (God). The entities of such spiritual attainments, be it in the arc of descent like angels, or in the arc of ascent like the souls of the Prophets and saints, are in the state of observing the finite-many in the Absolute One and observing Him in the finite-many. And as such they are in a position to observe the actual relation in whom the finite multitude are standing to each other as well as their relation to the Absolute. So such entities are the true witnesses of the Absolute reality and the relative and finite realities in different degrees.

    In this sense the Qur’an has used the term Shahadat for the Prophets, saints and righteous people according to the degree of their spiritual attainment. Therefore, Shahadat means a state of observation and realization of the Truth. This state of realization in its most comprehensive sense has been used for the soul of the last Prophet, Muhammad, upon whom be peace. Next to him are the “holy souls,” who in soul and spirit are identical with him, and are true manifestations of his stage of accomplishment. Next to them are the holy souls of Prophets, saints and righteous people according to their position in the hierarchy of realization and observation of the Truth. Such personalities are undoubtedly the model and norm of the others to follow. Shahadat is a stage of attainment whether anybody does or does not follow the person who has reached this stage.

    But the life of such a person deserves to be adopted as an example and be followed. Anyone who establishes a tie of love with such an accomplished personality will also attain the same stage of realization and become a Shaheed in a lesser degree corresponding to his spiritual limitations. This is supported by the commentary of the Qur’an where he interprets and comments 42:23, known as Ayah-e Modat, “Whosoever dies with the love of the Al-e Muhammad in his heart, his death is the death of one who had attained the state of Shahadat (realization).” Thus a Shaheed is the one who is the witness of the truth and possesses also the right of intercession (shifa‘at). (Refer to footnote in Ch. 43:86 of Translation of the Qur’an by Mir Ahmad Ali.)

    So a Shaheed and its derivatives have been used in the Qur’an in the sense of realization and observation of the Truth; it has not been used in the Qur’an in the limited sense of being killed for the cause of righteousness. It is true a person who gives his life and all that is dear to him for the sake of God will reach a stage of realization. There are people who have reached this stage of realization before giving their lives and dear ones in the way of God: Hussain (the grandson of the Holy Prophet) had attained the stage of realization since his birth. Many of his statements prove beyond doubt that this state of realization made him move towards Karbala and display a scene of realization without precedence and shall not be repeated. It is true of the righteous people who are killed for the cause of Islam in which after their martyrdom they have reached the stage of Shahadat. But for the Holy Prophet and his 12 successors, their very existence and Shahadat are synonyms and inseparable from each other.

    It is for this reason that even love for them will take one to the stage of Shahadat. Here it should be noted that martyrdom (being killed for the cause of Islam) applies only to those who have given their lives for the sake of Islam in obedience and submission to the order of God conveyed to them by the Holy Prophet and his rightful successors. In the battle of Uhud wherein the Muslims were defeated and ran away except for a few, a person named Khazman remained with the Prophet and fought against the infidels who were attacking the few Muslims and wanted to kill the Prophet. Afterwards a Muslim praised the leader who fought but the latter said frankly he had not fought but for the sake of helping his clan. The Prophet, when asked about the destiny of that leader, said Khazaman would go to hell in spite of his bravery because the motive of his good deed was not Godly. This is a lesson and a distinctive mark between jihad (fighting for the cause of Islam as ordered by God) and the war waged against non-Muslims to conquer territory and rule over people. Imam Muhammad Baqir (the fifth Imam) says is fardh (obligatory), and it will be termed jihad. But if the attempt is to give up obedience to one creature and accept the obedience to another, it is the satanic war which is usually waged by people to gain power.

  • 32. Ummat Muslima – The word Ummat or Ummah (nation) has been frequently used in the Qur’an in various meanings. Many commentators fail to grasp the exact meaning in which the word has been used in certain passages of the Qur’an, which has resulted in some confusion. In the interpretation of the concerned passage, Ummat is a derivative form, the root of which is Amama, meaning literally, intention to or turn towards a fixed direction. But figuratively it has been used for any distinguished unit which draws attention. (1) One of its derivative verbal nouns as “Imam.” It has been used to signify a distinguished leader towards whom attention is drawn. In this sense the plural is A‘immah. It has also been used in the sense of distinguished “highway.” (2) The other sense is Amam, meaning forward, front: a distinctive thing which is ahead in time or place and draws attention.

    (3) The third is Ummat or Ummah. It has been used in the following shades of meaning: (a) a distinctive point of time (9:8 and 12:45), (b) as a collective noun denoting a distinctive group of people who are led by a distinctive larder. In this sense the plural for it is Umum (nations), (c) a collective noun for a distinguished group of people who have the quality to lead. In this sense the plural is A‘immah, and (d) as a common noun used for a single person who has the quality of leadership or any other distinctive quality (16:12).

    To understand the exact shade of meaning in which the word Ummat has been used in different passages of the Qur’an one should refer to the context or other evidence whether it has been used to mean a leading person or a distinguished leading group or a distinguished group led by a distinguished leader or leaders. Or, it has been used in the sense of a distinguished point of time or space. It is wrong to interpret Ummah in all the passages of the Qur’an in one and the same shade of meaning, i.e. a distinguished group who followed a distinguished leader or in the sense of a nation. For example, see the word ummatan Muslimatan used in 2:128, and Ummatan Wasatan in 2:143, Wal takun Min Kum Umatun in 3:104, Kuntum Khaira Umatin in 3:110, Umatun Khalamatun in 3:113 – 114, and Umatun hia arba min Umatin in 16:92. The context of all these usages proves beyond doubt the word Ummat used as a collective noun means a distinguished group of leading personalities and not the followers of a leader or a particular nation. In short, Ummat in these places has been used in the sense of Imam and A‘immah and not in the sense of Mamoom (followers). Every follower of the Prophet of Islam has not attained the high state of realization and the observation of the truth to be a witness over the people. Every follower of the Prophet cannot be counted in the “best group” whom God has brought out in the interest of the people to lead them towards the right path. These are qualities of righteous leaders chosen by God and cannot be applied to every man.

    The word wasat (middle) used in the Qur’an, particularly in 2:143, means a group of people who are in the middle path saved from all extremities, or it means they are on the zenith of the hierarchy of spiritual attainment, the state which has equal comprehensive relation to all which is below it. This state or stage of accomplishment has been termed as ‘araf in 7:46 and 48, meaning elevated place. This is a state which those who have attained it, would recognize as all good or bad, by their very appearance and features.

  • 33. It has been discussed in relation to the “Spirit” which the Holy Prophet’s light was glorifying God before coming into this world. It refers to his prior existence. But as far as his soul is concerned it was created along with his birth, reflecting the light of his spirit. Therefore, there is no existence of the human soul, whether of the Prophets or others, before the creation of the body. The difference between the spirit which proceeds from God in the arc of descent and the soul which is the reflection of the spirit in the arc of ascent, conditioned with the state of the ground, should always be kept in mind so this theory should not be confused with the eternity of the soul and the problem of transmigration which has no room in Islam at all.
  • 34. إِنَّمَا يَسْتَأْذِنُكَ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَارْتَابَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ فَهُمْ فِي رَيْبِهِمْ يَتَرَدَّدُونَ {45}

    God forgives you (oh Our Apostle). Why did you give them leave (to stay behind) until it was manifest unto you who spoke the truth and you had known the liars? (9:43)

    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَطَلِّقُوهُنَّ لِعِدَّتِهِنَّ وَأَحْصُوا الْعِدَّةَ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ رَبَّكُمْ ۖ لَا تُخْرِجُوهُنَّ مِنْ بُيُوتِهِنَّ وَلَا يَخْرُجْنَ إِلَّا أَنْ يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ ۚ وَمَنْ يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَقَدْ ظَلَمَ نَفْسَهُ ۚ لَا تَدْرِي لَعَلَّ اللَّهَ يُحْدِثُ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ أَمْرًا {1}

    Oh (Our) Prophet! Why did you forbid (unto yourself) what God has made lawful unto you? You seek to please your wives, and God is Oft-forgiving, the Most Merciful. (66:1)

    عَبَسَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ {1}
    أَنْ جَاءَهُ الْأَعْمَىٰ {2}
    وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ لَعَلَّهُ يَزَّكَّىٰ {3}
    أَوْ يَذَّكَّرُ فَتَنْفَعَهُ الذِّكْرَىٰ {4}
    أَمَّا مَنِ اسْتَغْنَىٰ {5}
    فَأَنْتَ لَهُ تَصَدَّىٰ {6}
    وَمَا عَلَيْكَ أَلَّا يَزَّكَّىٰ {7}
    وَأَمَّا مَنْ جَاءَكَ يَسْعَىٰ {8}

    He frowned and turned away, because came unto him the blind man, and what makes you to know he would cleanse himself or be warned, and profit him the warning? As for him who thinks himself independent (on account of his wealth) unto him do you attend. It shall be no blame on you if cleaned not himself. But as to him who comes unto you striving in earnest. (80:1 – 8)

  • 35. When the Prophet migrated to Medina a mosque was erected with brick and mud walls and a roof of palm leaves, and also constructed was a platform with a roof, adjacent to the mosque, for the needs of the sahabah (companions) whose devotion was remarkable. The Prophet assisted with his hands in the construction. The companions are called As’hab al-Suffa.
  • 36. فَاصْبِرْ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لِذَنْبِكَ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ {55}

    So be you patient. Verily the promise of God is true, and seek protection for your (followers’) shortcomings and celebrate praise of your Lord in the evening and the morning. (40:55)

    فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لِذَنْبِكَ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مُتَقَلَّبَكُمْ وَمَثْوَاكُمْ {19}

    So know you there is no god but God and seek the protection for your sins and for (the sins of) the believer men and believer women, and God knows well the place of your movement (in this world) and the place of your final rest (in the hereafter). (47:19)

    إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًا مُبِينًا {1}
    لِيَغْفِرَ لَكَ اللَّهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَيَهْدِيَكَ صِرَاطًا مُسْتَقِيمًا {2}

    Verily We have caused victory for you, a manifest victory. (So)(oh Our Apostle Muhammad) God may grant protection for your sake (against) which has gone before of your (followers’) shortcomings and which has to come later, and thus He perfects His bounty unto you and guides you (firm-footed) on the way straight (unto your Lord) (48:1 – 2)

  • 37. It has already been pointed out that the gradual revelation was a fragmentary quotation of what was already revealed totally to the Prophet on the esteemed Night, in the month of Ramadan. To consider such victories as something manifest producing real tranquility of mind and heart of the perspective of the Prophet’s mission. On this ground the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt have emphasized the occasions said to be connected with the revelation of the Qur’an, part by part, during the 23 years of the Prophet’s ministry have no restrictive bearing on the parts revealed on those occasions. This gradual revelation was like quoting a proverb on a particular relevant occasion once and on some other similar occasion at another time.
  • 38. Narratives of this kind may seem to be legends but the seen world of matter is the lowest surface of the universe which appeals to the external senses of the average man. Beyond this visible surface there are unseen worlds and surfaces of existence dominating the seen surface.
  • 39. Safinat al-Bihar, vol. 2, p. 474, Kanz al-Ummal, tradition 39168. The following verses of the Qur’an relate to the hypocrites: 2:8 – 20, 3:152, 156 and 167, 4:67, 93, 138 and 140, 9:43 – 45, 64, 67 – 69, 73, 95 – 98, 101 and 124 – 127, 14 47 – 50 and 63, 20:2 – 3, 33:9 – 20 and 60 – 61, 48:16, 20, 20 – 23, and 25 – 30, 48:6, 10, 18 and 29, 49:1 – 6 (for the commentary of these verses see Bukhari, part on Tafsir on 39:14 – 18), 57:13 – 15, 58:8, and 63:1 – 8.
  • 40. Malik ibn Nuwayrah. Khalid ibn Walid, the famous general, was sent to collect zakat at the time of Abu Bakr, from Malik ibn Nuwayrah, who was the head of his region, in turn appointed by the order of the Prophet, to receive zakat from the tribes there. When Malik refused to pay, Khalid killed him. On the very night, he co-habituated with Malik’s wife and married her, which was punishable under Islamic law, but he was not taken to task by the caliph. (Tarikh Abi’l Fida, vol. one, p. 158 and Tarikh-e Yaqubi, vol. 11, p. 110.)
  • 41. Of the early collections of lesser size which contain transmitted statements of the Ahl al-Bayt few are noted. All are highly esteemed according to the Shi‘ah scholars as the sources of theological inferences. Of these collections al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyyah (or al-Sahifa al-Kamila), the collection of prayers and supplications of the fourth Imam Ali bin al-Hussain Zayn al-‘Abideen (38A.H. 658 A.D. – 95 A.H./714 A.D.), compiled by the Imam, and transmitted through the chain mentioned in the beginning of the book, has been highly regarded because of the date of its compilation, its being genuinely preserved in the original classical style of the Ahl al-Bayt and the authenticity of the chain of its transmitters, and the popularity of the text among the various schools of thought. Next is the celebrated collection, Nahj al-Balagha, the selections from the lectures, sermons, epistles and maxims of the first Imam, Ali ibn Abi Talib, selected by Sayyid Radi the renowned scholar (d. 436 A.H./1044 A.D.) from the earlier authentic sources of Shi‘ah and Sunni literature.

    Before the compilation of Nahj al-Balagha the Book of Sulaym ibn Qays al-Hilali (d. 80 – 90 A.H./699 – 707 A.D.), a devoted disciple of Ali, was in the hands of the followers. It is said the book was termed by the sixth Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq as the alphabet of the Shi‘ah school of thought. Extracts of the book have been quoted in the authentic collections of later periods such as Kafi. Sulaym’s information about Islam and the events of its early days is based on what was narrated by Ali or the prominent companions of the Prophet who remained whole-heartedly close to Ali and his house, like Salman, Abu Dharr, Miqdad, ‘Ammar, Hudhayfa, etc. But the question is about the genuineness of the Book of Sulaym. Whether the present copy is entirely the same as it was written by the author and confirmed by Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq, or was it tampered with? This is controversial issue among the critics of traditions, and some of the contents of the book support the latter view, partly it is against the facts of history, the articles of the Shi‘ah faith and the assertions of the Imams.

    The same is the case with the commentary of the Qur’an (supposed to have been dictated by the 11th Imam al-Askari (232 A.H./846 A.D.) – 260 A.H.823 A.D.) to two of his disciples, when he was almost under house arrest at Samarrah the cantonment town of the Abbasides in Iraq). The book contains valuable commentary on the Qur’an with interspersed statements contrary to historical facts, faith and reason which give evidence against the genuineness of the book. The same is the case with some Shi‘ah works and collections of the first four centuries of Islam which were not incorporated in the famous and authentic collections of Kulayni, Saduq and Sheikh Tusi. Such collections can be relied upon if they are not in conflict with the contents of the above top-ranking collections and other criteria for verification of scriptural narratives.

    The following books are that criteria: (1) Exegesis of the Qur’an by Ali ibn Ibrahim Qummi (last part of the third century A.H.), (2) Exegesis of the Qur’an by Muhammad ibn ‘Ayyashi (beginning of the third century A.H.), (3) Exegesis of the Qur’an by Farat ibn Ibrahim al-Kufi (third century A.H.), (4) Basa’ir al-Darajat by Saffar Abu Ja‘far ibn Muhammad (d. 20- A.H./902 – 903 A.D.), (5) Da‘aim al-Islam by Qadi Nu‘man (d. 363 A.H./974 A.D.), (6) al-Istighatha by Ali Ahmad Kufi (d. 352 A.H.), (7) Mahasin, commentary by al-Harrani (third century A.H.). However, any narrated statement in any one of those books or event described concerning anyone of the vicegerents of God should not be accepted unless it is supported by some internal or external evidence confirming its authenticity. This principle of evidence has been elucidated by Sayyid Murtaza, ‘Alam al-Huda (the outstanding banner of guidance), in the fifth century A.H.

    He did not accept the authoritative status and reliability of the apostolic statements narrated by solitary chains of the narrators without scrutiny by the external or internal evidence. The solitary narrated reports contained in such collections are mixed with reports (a) tending towards deification of the vicegerents of God as His incarnates or co-extensive with Him, transcending the accomplished men directly or indirectly from the status of being created to the status of a creator, (b) presenting them as falling short of the maximum standard of obedience and submission to the will of God, (c) asserting conscious existence for individual souls, prior to physical birth and death, and affirming the individual souls of the children of Adam had been taken out by God at once before their ordinary and gradual birth and propagation from Adam, and brought to a conscious state in the form of small particles (‘Alam-e Zar) for taking their confession and making a covenant with them, (d) there are reports, tending to esoterical interpretation, of the Qur’an and the apostolic statements discarding totally their literal and esoterical significance, and (e) indicating the Qur’an was tampered with after the prophet by mischievous hands.

    Such reports are explicitly anti-Islamic. The interested parties tried their charge of tampering with the apostolic literature most of which had neither received wide publicity, nor was it in a classical style. It is easy to play with the statement narrated by some solitary chain of narrators in a very ordinary style. Instead of narrating the statements verbatim, the narrator can alter it in his own words deliberately or by mistake to achieve his aim. Any such distortion in the classical style of the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt in their sermons, lectures, epistles, prayers and descriptive salutations (ziarat) addressed to the holy and chosen servants of God can be easily detected and exposed by the experts.

    Remember the above collections and others have been incorporated or quoted in the collections of later periods. Even in Allama Majilisi’s work one can find such pieces of narrations without scrutiny, though the Allama is highly respected for his versatile knowledge. Unfortunately Muhaddith Nuri-Hussain ibn Muhammad Taqi (1320 A.H./1902 A.D.), the author of Mustadrak al-Wasail and many other useful works, wrote a damaging book, Fasl al-Kitab fi Tahrif al-Kitab. It is said that when his contemporary scholars refuted the book and exposed his mistake in the proper application of the principles of the critical scrutiny, he accepted it. Mere incorporation of the information on any topic from al-Kutub al-‘Arba‘a by the later authors in their works is not acceptable if it is not based on the principles of reasoning, developed and formulated on the basis of the Qur’an and traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt.

    The door of ijtihad is always open with accompanying principles. It is accepted that the intense research of the highly qualified scholar may lead him to reject some contents of the least authentic collection as reliable in the light of ‘ilm al-rijal (science of verification of scriptural reports). Thus the refutation by one scholar of a view held by others is neither heresy nor a sign of disrespect to the other scholar, however prominent he may be. This form of ijtihad, an effort to establish the creative or legislative will of God communicated to humankind through His chosen representatives. Prophets and the Imams of the house of the Prophet of Islam, which is advocated by the Shi‘ah school of thought should not be confused with the ijtihad in the sense of effort by a fallible person to establish his own views against the former’s clear declarations, directives and statements. Qiyas or hypothetical inferences based on reasoning is invalid in Shi‘ah fiqh (doctrines of divine law) though valid in other sects of Islam.

  • 42. Renowned Shia books on doctrines of religion, popularly known as al-Kutub al-‘Arba’: they hold the same position in which the six canonical collections (al-Sihahal-Sittah) have among the Sunnis.

    al-Kutub al-‘Arba’

    1. al-Kafi by Thiqat al-Islam Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub al-Kulayni (d. 329 A.H./940 A.D.)

    2. Al-Itiqadat, Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih, al-Tawhid, Uyan Akbar, al-Rida, and other works by Muhammad ibn Babuyah al-Qummi al-Saduq (d. 381 A.H./991 A.D.).

    3. Tahdhib al-Akham and

    4. al-Istibar and other works by Sheikh al-Taifah Muhammad al-Tusi (d. 460 A.H./1068 A.D.)

    There are comprehensive lists, catalogues and biographies of Shi‘ah scholars of various sciences, e.g. philosophy, literature and history. Ibn un-Nadim, an-Najashi, kasha, and Sheikh Tusi are among the celebrated biographers. The noted philosophers among the Shia‘ahs are Abu Nasr Farabi (d. 339 A.H.), ar-Ra‘is ibn Sina (Avicenna) (428 A.H.) and Sadr al-Din al-Shirazi, author of Asfar, popularly known as Mulla Sadr (d. 1060 A.H./1742 A.D.). Sadr’s position as the father of philosophy has been discussed in detail by ‘Allama Sayyid Muhammad Hussein Tabataba’i (d. 1400 A.H./1981 A.D.), author of the exegesis of the Qur’an al-Mizan. The bibliography of ‘Allama Tabataba’i’s work has been given as Sayyid Hussein Nasr who has translated the former’s Shi‘ite Islam from Persian into English and edited it with an introduction and notes.

    A list of a few prominent scholars who are referred to in this book is given here in chronological order.

    1. Abu Ja‘far Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub al-Kulayni (d. 329 A.H./941 A.D.): al-Kafi.

    2. Sheikh al-Sadiq Muhammad ibn Ali Babawayh al-Qummi, known as al-Saduq (d. 381 A.H./991 – 992 A.D.): Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih, al-I‘tiqaat, at-Tawhid, etc.

    3. Sheikh al-Mufid, Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Nu‘man (d. 413 A.H./1022 A.D.): Tashih al-I‘tiqad, Kitab al-Irshad and other works.

    4. Sayid Murtadha (known as Sharif Murtaza), Abu’l Qasim Ali ibn Hussein al-Musawi, with the title of ‘Alam al-Huda (the outstanding banner of guidance) (d. 436 A.H./1044 A.D.): Jawabab al-Masa‘il al-Mawsiliyya al-Thalitha, Ibtal al-‘Amal bi-Akhbar al-Ahad, al-Intisar, and other works.

    5. Al-Tusi, Sheikh Abu Ja‘far Muhammad ibn Hassanal-Tusi (title Sheikh al-Taifa) (d. 460 A.H./1067 A.D.): al-Istibar, Tahdhib al-Ahkam, al-Ghayba, ‘Udat al-Usul and al-Fihrist.
    6. Muhaqqiq Hilli Najm al-Din Abu’l Qasim Ja‘far ibn Hassan al-Hilli (d. 676 A.H./1277 A.D.): Shara‘i al-Islam, Ma‘arij al-Usul, al-Mu‘tabar, etc.

    7. ‘Allama Hilli, Jamal al-Din Hassan al-Mutahhar al-Hilli (d. 726 A.H./1325 A.D.): Tahdhib al-Usul, Tabsirat al-Mut‘allimin, Mukhtalf al-Shi‘ah, Nihayat al-Wasul ‘ila ‘ilm al-Usul, etc.

    8. al-Shahid al-Awwal, Shams al-Din Muhammad ibn Makki al-‘Amili (d. 786 A.H./1384 A.D.): al-Qawa‘id wa’il-Fawa‘id, al-Lim‘a al-Dimashiyya, al-Durus al-Shr‘iyya, Shayat al-Murad, al-Bayan and al-Alfiya.

    9. al-Muhaqqwiq al-Karaki, ‘Ali ibn Hussain ibn ‘Abad al-‘Ali al-Karaki (d. 940 A.H./1534 A.D.): Jami‘ al-Maqasid, Taiq al-Irshad and Fawa‘ al-Shara.

    10. Mir Damad, Muhammad Baqir ibn Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Hussain (d. 1040 A.H./1630 – 1631 A.D.): Jami‘ al-Najat, al-Rawashih al-Samawiyya, etc.

    11. Mulla Sadr, sadr al-Din Shrazi (d. 1060 A.H./1743 A.D.): Asfar.

    12. Majlisi 1, Muhammad Taqi ibn Maqsud Ali al-Isfahani (d. 1070 A.H./1659 – 1660 A.D.): Lawami’-e Sahabqarani and Rawdat al-Muttaqin.

    13. Muhsin al-Fayd (Kashani), Muhammad ibn Murtadha al-Kashani (d. 1091 A.H./1680 A.D.): al-Wafi, Mafatih al-Shara’i, Mu‘tasam al-Shi‘ah, etc.

    14. Majlisi H. Muhammad Baqir ibn Muhammad Taqi, Majlisi 1 (d. 1110 A.H./1699 A.D.): Bihar al-Anwar, Mir‘at al-‘Uqul, Zad al-M‘ad, etc.

    15. Bihbahani, Muhammad Baqir ibn Muhammad Akmal al-Wahid (d. 1205 A.H./1792 A.D.): al-Fawa‘id al-‘Atiqa, Sharah Mafatih al-Shara‘l, etc.

    16. Mulla Mahdi ibn Abi Dhar an-Narqi (d. 1209 A.H./1795 A.D.): Jami‘ al-Sa’dat.

    17. Bahr al-‘Ulum, Sayyid Muhammad Mahdi ibn Murtadha al-Tabataba’i (d. 1212 A.H./1797 A.D.), 198, Ja‘far ibn Kidr al-Najafi, Kashif al-Ghita (d. 1228 A.H./1813 A.D.): Kashif al-Gita.

    18. Sheikh Muhammad Hassan ibn Muhammad Baqi al-Najafi (d. 1226 A.H./1850 A.D.): Jawahir al-Kalam.

    19. Mirza Abu’l Qasim Qummi (d. 1231 A.H./1816 A.D.): Qawanin, al-Musabih.

    20. Sayyid Ali ibn Muhammad Ali al-Tabataba’i al-Karbala’i: Riyad al-Masa’il.

    21. Sheikh Murtadha Ansari ibn Muhammad Amin al-Ansari (d. 1291 A.H./1864 A.D.): al-Makasib, al-Rasa’il, etc.

    The last maraja‘ (authority) is from the Ansari school of thought in religious doctrines.