Risaleh ye Sayr wa Suluk: A Treatise on Wayfaring

By Bahr al Ulum (qs)
The original in Persian, entitled Risaleh ye sayr was suluk mansub be Bahr 'Ulum, Allamah Ayatullah al-'Uzma Sayyid Mahdi ibn Sayyid Murtada al‑Tabataba'i al-Najafi, ridwan Allah 'alayh (Tehran: Intisharat-e Hikmat, 1360 H. Sh./1402 H.), has been introduced and annotated by Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tehrani, qudissa sirruh.


During the days of my studies at the holy centre of religious studies at Qum, this nondescript came across the manuscript of a treatise whose title was Tuhfat al‑muluk fi al‑sayr wa al‑suluk, ascribed to our master, al‑Sayyid Mahdi Bahr al‑ `Ulum. This copy belonged to marhum Hujjat al‑Islam Hajj Shaykh Abbas Tehrani, and as I found it very absorbing. I borrowed it from him to make a copy of my own, which I wrote in the year 1366 H. (1947).

This copy contained many errors, to the extent that it did not make any sense in some places. Accordingly I wanted to find an error free copy of it, and to edit it. When I arrived for studies in Najaf Ashraf, I found a copy of it with Hadrat Hujjat al‑Islam Ayatullah Hajj Shaykh Abbas Hatif Quchani, may his blessings be perpetual, and I borrowed it from him. But that copy was also full of errors, and was not useful except for some corrections in a few cases.

On my return from Najaf Ashraf in the year 1376 (1956), once in a meeting with my honoured teacher Hadrat Allamah Tabatabai, may his shadow endure forever, he said, “I have a fine copy of it which I have written myself.” He added, “When I was engaged in studies at Tabriz I came across a manuscript and made a copy from it. When I went to Najaf Ashraf I found a similar copy with our teacher marhum Ayatullah Hajj Mirza Ali Aqa Qadi, may God be pleased with him.

That copy was also full of errors and later I found out that he also had copied from the same manuscript from which my copy was made and both of them were from one manuscript. The copy possessed by marhum Qadi was written in an unsavoury hand, as if written by a child in his early days at school. Hence one could see many errors in it.

But afterwards I found a very good copy of it in a very graceful handwriting and written on an excellent kind of paper marked with lines in the possession of my teacher in mathematics and astronomy, marhum Sayyid Abu al‑Qasim Khunsari. I took it from him for making a copy which was made in the year 1354 H. (1935), and the date of the manuscript from which my copy was made, was 90 years older.”

I asked him to lend me his manuscript, which he did with utmost generosity which was characteristic of him, and from it I made the present copy. Accordingly, this copy is free of errors and is reliable. This was an account of the textual background of the accuracy of this manuscript.

As to the authenticity of its ascription to marhum Sayyid Mahdi Bahr al‑`Ulum, may God be pleased with him, this nondescript himself has heard marhum Ayatullah Aqa Mirza Sayyid Abd al‑Hadi Shirazi, may God be pleased with him, say, “It is highly probable that this treatise, excepting its last parts, belongs to Bahr al‑'Ulum and are in his own hand.”

And I have also heard marhum Allamah Ayatullah Shaykh Aqa Buzurg Tehrani say “I also believe this treatise, excepting its last parts, to be by the pen of marhum Bahr al‑`Ulum.” However, in his book al‑Dhari `ah, vol. 12, p. 285, he has written:

Risalah fi al‑sayr wa al‑suluk, in Persian, in two thousand lines, is attributed to our master Bahr al‑`Ulum ibn Murtada al‑Tabatabai al‑Burujerdi al‑Najafi (died in 1212/[1797]). But its authenticity is doubtful and a copy of it exists at Bahr al‑`Ulum's house at Najaf... I have seen another manuscript of it, with additions and expanded expressions and phrases, bearing the title “Tuhfat al‑muluk fi al‑sayr wa al‑suluk” ….. The Risalah fi al‑sayr wa al‑suluk, the Arabic translation of this treatise, has been mentioned on page 282.

On page 282 he writes:

Risalah fi al‑sayr wa al‑suluk is Arabic translation of the Persian [treatise] on sayr wa suluk ascribed to our master, Bahr al‑`Ulum. It was translated into Arabic by Shaykh Abu al‑Majd Muhammad Rida al‑Isfahani on the request of Sayyid Husayn ibn Mu`iz al‑Din Muhammad al‑Mahdi al‑Qazwini al‑Hilli, at his home in Najaf at “al‑Barrani” in the course of several nights, after the fifth hour of the night.

Abu al‑Majd states that Bahr al‑`Ulum wrote it at Kirmanshah . . . . I say: The ascription of the last half of it to him, May God have mercy upon him, is doubtful, because it is according to the taste of the Sufis. Hence if it is established that it is by him that would be true of only the first half of it, as will be mentioned on page 284.

Marhum Allamah Sayyid Muhsin Amin Jabal‑`Amili in Ayan al‑Shi `ah, part 48, p. 170, states, “Bahr al‑`Ulum has written a treatise in Persian concerning the gnosis (ma’rifah) of God, the Exalted. But the author of Tatimmah Amal al‑Amil has categorically denied its ascription to Bahr al‑`Ulum.”

Thereafter marhum Amin says, “Among things that are found in that treatise is the necessity of picturing one's teacher (murshid) in the mind while pronouncing the words “iyyaka na `budu wa iyyaka nasta`in.” Another relates to the invocation of spiritual assistance from the planet Mercury and its citation of a quatrain (ruba `i) composed on this theme.”

However, he has committed an error in this regard, because, firstly, in no place in this treatise is there any mention of the necessity of picturing one's murshid in the mind while reciting the words “iyyaka na budu wa iyyaka nasta`in.”

Secondly, the invocation of spiritual assistance from Mercury‑as will be mentioned later on‑does not form a part of Bahr al‑Ulum's treatise but is by the copyist, who mentions it in the course of his own biographical account added at the end of the treatise and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the treatise itself. But the view of our teacher Allamah Tabatabai is as follows:

“Some have said that this treatise belongs to Sayyid Mahdi Bahr al‑'Ulum Khurasani. But this is very improbable. Shaykh Ismail Mahallati, who was one of those who claimed to represent the Imam of the Age (ahl‑e da`wat), considered the whole of this treatise to be from marhum Sayyid Mahdi Bahr al‑`Ulum Najafi, excepting the twenty‑second, twenty‑third and twenty‑fourth items which relate to thought control (nafy khawatir), chanting (wird), and contemplation (fikr).

The copy possessed by Shaykh Isma'il Mahallati did not contain these three items and his copy was a complete one from which these three items had been excluded.” Allamah Tabatabai added, “Some consider it to be translation of a treatise by Marhum Sayyid ibn Tawus and they believe that the Arabic original‑which is not presently extant‑bore the title “Risalah fi al‑sayr wa al‑suluk li Ibn Tawus,” and I too have seem it in the title of the manuscript that I had borrowed from marhum Aqa Sayyid Abu al‑Qasim Khunsari.

However, our great teacher, the sign of God, marhum Hajj Mirza Ali Aqa Qadi, may God be pleased with him, considered this treatise definitely and undoubtedly in its entirety to be by marhum Sayyid Mahdi Bahr al‑`Ulum.”

One day this nondescript said to my teacher Allamah Tabatabai, may his shadow be enduring, “Although this nondescript has read many books on ethics, wayfaring and gnosis, I have not found any of them to be so comprehensive, inclusive, firm, well‑founded on the principles and useful as this treatise despite its brevity and conciseness which is such that one can put it in one's pocket and use it while travelling.”

He was surprised at my words and he said, “I have heard similar words from marhum Qadi, may God be pleased with him. He used to say, a book with its purity and richness of content has not been written on the subject of `irfan.” Hadrat Ayatullah Aqa Hajj Shaykh Abbas Quchani, who is the successor (wasi) of marhum Qadi, says, “Marhum Qadi had a great respect for this treatise, but he would repeatedly say, `I do not permit anyone to carry out the awrad and adhkar mentioned in this treatise.”' In any case, from the indications cited here it can be inferred that apparently this entire treatise is by Bahr al‑`Ulum and for following reasons:

First, as mentioned above in the citation from al‑Dhari`ah, the erudite and critical scholar, legist, theologian and jurisprudent marhum Shaykh Muhammad Rida Isfahani, author of the book Wiqayat al‑adhhan wa naqd falsafah Darwin, may God's mercy be upon him, considered it to be by Bahr al‑`Ulum and he also specified Kirmanshah as the place where it was written.

Second, Marhum Qadi, may God be pleased with him, who was an authority on the subject and a versatile scholar of esoteric and exoteric sciences and a master of ethics and ma`arif (the esoteric sciences), considered it to be by Marhum Bahr al‑`Ulum, and the witness of such a scholar and great authority in the realm of ma`arif is not something which can be overlooked.

Third, those who have denied Bahr al‑`Ulum's authorship of its last part have no grounds except their own impression of unlikelihood and it is evident that one cannot exclude any part from a book merely for its being unlikely, whereas it is possible that the Sayyid had envisioned a correct manner for the practice of the same passages.

Fourth, anyone who studies this treatise will find in it a uniformity of context and prose, written in an engaging and graceful style. There is no difference in this regard between the last part‑including even the three aforementioned fragments (twenty‑second, twenty‑third, and twenty ­fourth) and the rest of its contents, and it is evident that the entire treatise, from beginning to end, has been ordered, arranged and written by a single hand.

This is not contrary to what we shall mention in the footnotes on this book, that some of its passages are found verbatim in the writings of earlier scholars, for the citing of statements that are in agreement with the writer's views and taste from earlier books has been something customary among writers and compilers from among eminent scholars and authorities.

As to the ascription of the treatise to Sayyid ibn Tawus, may God be pleased with him, it is very improbable, because, firstly Ibn Tawus was a scholar of the 7th/12th century and a resident of Hillah and by origin an Arabic‑speaking sayyid, and consequently he could not have written Persian prose and that too in a style characteristic of recent centuries.

Also, it is obvious from the style and character of this treatise that it is not a translation but an original work of prose. Besides, anyone who is familiar with the works of Ibn Tawus knows that the spiritual approach of Ibn Tawus was one that consisted of muraqabah, muhasabah, fasting, and supplication, and the character of wayfaring described in this book is quite different from the spirituality of Ibn Tawus.

From that which has been said it may be concluded that the authenticity of its ascription to Bahr al‑`Ulum is highly and strongly probable, though God knows best. This is true especially in view of the states of that marhum, who possessed a station of inner purity and an inner light and partook considerably of occult matters and mysteries.

It is stated in the A`yan al‑Shi`ah, part 48, p. 166:

Until today the belief of the generality of the people about him is that he was one of those who possessed exclusive divine secrets and partook of divine grace, occult knowledge and miraculous qualities. Among things that cannot be doubted is that he was marked by a tendency like that of the Sufis and gnostics which manifested itself in his asceticism, devotions and itinerancy.

In any case, after copying for myself the entire treatise from the manuscript belonging to Ayatullah Allamah Tabatabai, may his shadow endure forever, for a long time I used to read it repeatedly and benefit from it. Then I decided to write a brief gloss upon it clarifying some of its difficulties and mentioning the sources of the traditions and poetic verses cited in it.

I thank God, the Exalted and the Blessed, for His favour in enabling me to carry out this difficult task to the extent of my capacity. I implore the learned and perspicacious readers to overlook any mistakes that they may come across and to remember me, in life and after death, in their salubrious supplications.

As to the biographical account of Bahr al‑`Ulum and description of the high degrees of perfection of that unique figure of his era and a rare personage of all times, it is beyond the range of the flight of this nondescript's thoughts and beyond the capacity of this destitute's pen.

What can I say concerning someone who was such that the shaykh of the fuqaha' and the mujtahids, Shaykh Ja'far Kashif al‑Ghita' would wipe the dust off his shoes with the lose end (hanak) of his turban (`ammamah) and who was such that the erudite researcher and the profound legist and possessor of outer and inner perfections, Mirza Abu al‑Qasim Jilani Qummi, once when he chanced to be present in one of his greatly enriching sessions during a pilgrimage to the Holy Shrines, asked him in the presence of a group of people:

“May my father and mother be your ransom, what have you done that you have attained such a station!?” What shall I say concerning someone about whom there is no doubt that he had repeated and recurrent meetings with the Imam of the Age, Hujjat ibn al‑Hasan al‑Askari, may our spirits be his ransom, and this is regarded as a definite fact by eminent scholars or rather by all residents of Najaf Ashraf.

And it can even be inferred from some statements of certain personages that the possibility was perpetually available to him of meeting that sublime Wali of the realm of contingency? And what shall I say about someone whom the Imam of the Age, that possessor of the station of greatest wilayah, took into his own arms?!

However, for the sake of the barakah and blessing of his remembrance, we will cite verbatim his biographical account given by Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Baqir Khunsari, who was his contemporary.

The veritable sayyid and the pillar of trust, our master Sayyid Mahdi, son of Sayyid Murtada, son of Sayyid Muhammad, Hasani Husayni Tabatabai Najafi-may God grant him a long life and may He make everlasting his high station and the barakah and blessings that flow out from his being‑is a leader and imam the like of whom time has not offered to the world.

A grand prince of great will and goals, a high‑flying spirit who’s like the mother of time has been unable to bear for ages; he has been the sire of the scholars of eminence and the master of the learned of Islam, the most erudite figure of his era and the unique personage of his times.

Should he open a discussion about a rational topic, it would appear to you as if it were the Shaykh al‑Raris (Ibn Sina) that was speaking or a Socrates, a Plato or an Aristotle. And were he to discuss a scriptural (manqul) topic, you would say that it was a veritable `allamah in law and jurisprudence.

One would not see him debate with anyone in the art of kalam without being prompted to swear, `By God, it is ‘Alam al‑Huda!' And were you to hear him while he is expounding the Noble Qur'an you would forget all that you had in your mind and you would imagine that it is as if he were the one on whom God had sent down the Qur'an!

His noble birthplace is Karbala' Mu`alla and he was born on the night of Friday in the month of Shawwal al‑Mukarram 1155 H. [November‑December 1742] and according to the numerological value of the letters of the alphabet the date of his auspicious birth is represented by this phrase:

لنصرة الحق قد وُلِدَ المهدي

[Al‑Mahdi was born to help al‑Haqq]

He studied for a short time under his father, who was a pious scholar and a good and virtuous man, and also studied under a number of other teachers including Shaykh Yusuf Bahrani. Thereafter he went on to attend the lectures of our teacher the Allamah Aqa Muhammad Baqir Wahid Behbahani, May God grant them long lives. After that he went to Najaf Ashraf and took up residence there. His auspicious and blessed house is at the present time the cynosure, resort and sanctuary of eminent scholars and masters of the arts from among the learned.

After our teacher Allamah Wahid, Bahr al‑`Ulum‑may their station be perpetually high‑is the leading religious personality of Iraq and the absolute chief and guardian of the learned. The scholars of Iraq have all turned towards him and made him their resort, and the eminent from among outstanding scholars study under him. Bahr al‑`Ulum is like the ka`bah of Iraq, for the benefit of whose company people come from long distances, and he is a shoreless ocean.

Moreover, he has displayed manifestly miraculous qualities which are not concealed from anyone and when a large group of Jews witnessed his miracles and proofs, all of them entered the fold of Islam and embraced Shi`ism. This episode with its clarity and vividness is so widely known that its fame has reached every ear and penetrated to every corner of the world.

To appreciate the greatness and splendour of this great man from whom such Divine signs have become manifest, it is enough to know that on the night of his auspicious birth his father, who was in the Hijaz at the time, saw in a dream that our Master Hadrat Rida, may the best of benedictions and Peace be upon him and his fathers and descendants, had sent him a candle through Isma’il ibn Bazi to be lit on the roof of his house and the light and radiance of that candle spread through the sky in such a manner that there was no visible end to it.

On meeting him and coming face‑to face with him when one's eyes fall on him one is immersed in a world of wonder and says to oneself, “This man is not a mortal!”

The things that we have mentioned are facts which have been mentioned in the Muntha al‑maqal concerning this sign of excellence and this true scholar, a personality whom God has confirmed with a variety of arts of perfection, granting him, rather, the gift of lawful magic and endowing him with an intoxication free from error in solving problems and resolving difficult issues and in devastating false ideas and demolishing during debates the notions of formidable scholarly figures of the era.

For his nobility and excellence throughout the world and in all it comers it is sufficient that no one has ever been awarded the appellation Bahr al‑ `Ulum, which means the `ocean of sciences.'

This was a brief biographical sketch of that paragon of knowledge and ma`rifah given by the Rawdat al jannat.

O Lord, forgive us and our brothers who have gone forth before us and do not make‑our hearts harbour any rancour against those who have faith. Our Lord, indeed You are most kind and merciful. And all Praise belongs to God, firstly and lastly, and our last cry is `All Praise is for Allah, the Lord of all beings.' Written by the mortal hand by this servant, hopeful of Divine mercy:

al‑Sayyid Muhmmad al‑Husayn al‑Husayni al‑Tehrani

23 Rabi` al‑Awwal 1393 H./[April 1973]

On the Characteristics of the Number Forty in the Development of Human Potentialities

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

الحَمْدُ وَ الثَناءُ لِعَيْنِ الوُجُودِ. وَ الصَلاةُ عَلى واقِفِ مَواقِفِ الشُّهود. وَ عَلى آلهِ أُمَناءِ الْمَعْبُود.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. All praise and eulogies belong to the Mainspring of Being. And may benedictions be upon him who stands in the stations of epiphany1 and upon his Progeny, the Trustees2 of the Worshipped One.

O fellow travellers of the realm of felicity and purity! O comrades on the oath of sincerity and fidelity!

...  امْكُثُوا إِنِّي آنَسْتُ نَارًا لَّعَلِّي آتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ أَوْ جَذْوَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَصْطَلُونَ ﴿القصص: ٢٩﴾

Wait! I perceive a fire on the mountain side. Perchance I will bring you a brand or a faggot from it, that haply you may warm yourselves.3

It has been narrated with several chains of authorities from the Master of the Apostles and the Guides of the Godward oaths (that he said):

مَنْ أَخْلَصَ للهِ أَربَعين صَباحاً ظَهَرَتْ يَنابِيعُ الْحِكْمَةِ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ عَلَى لِسانِهِ.

Whoever dedicates himself to God for forty days, will find springs of wisdom sprout out of his heart and flow on his tongue.4

The wordings of the narrations differ but their meaning is the same.

We have seen clearly [through direct experience] and known through the statements [of the sages] that this noble instance from among the instances pertaining to numbers has a particular significance and a special effectiveness in the development of inner potentialities and the perfection of enduring qualities and in covering the stages and traversing the phases [of wayfaring].5

Though the stages on the way are manifold, but every stage has a goal. And though the phases should be innumerable, with every phase that you enter you pass across a world.

The fashioning of the clay (tinat) of Adam, the father of mankind, was completed in forty mornings:

وَ خَمَّرْتُ طينَةَ آدَمَ بِيِدي أَرْبَعِينَ صَباحاً

And I fashioned Adam's clay with My Hands in forty days.6

In this number [of days] he crossed a world from among the worlds of potentiality, and, according to a tradition, his body lay for forty years between Makkah and Madinah and the rains of divine mercy poured upon him so that in this number [of days] he became capable of receiving the Holy Spirit.7

The duration of the promised meeting (miqat) of Moses, may Peace be upon him, was completed in forty nights, and his people were delivered from their wanderings after forty years.

The Seal of the Prophets (s) rose for service after forty years and was dressed in the robes of prophethood.

The period of the journey through the realm of this world, from the first manifestation of potentiality to the end of its completion in this world is forty years, as it has been narrated that the human being's intellect attains maturity in forty years, everyone according to his capacity.8

He grows from the outset of his entry into this world until the age of thirty years, and thereafter for ten years his body is remains in a halted condition. And at forty years9 he completes his journey through the world of nature (tabi`at)10 and commences the journey towards the world of the Hereafter. Thereat every day and every year he is engaged in packing up to make the departure from this world.

His strength diminishes year after year, and his eyesight and hearing are on decrease. The corporal faculties are on decline and the body in a process of wasting away, for the period of his journey and sojourn in this world is over in forty years.

And it is for this reason that it has been said:

مَنْ بَلَغَ ألأرْبَعينَ وَلَمْ يَأخُذِ الْعَصا فَقَدْ عَصى

One who reaches forty years and does not take up a staff has surely disobeyed.

That is because the staff is a sign of a traveller and it is desirable for the traveller to carry a staff. And when forty years are over, it is the time for journey, and the taking up of the staff signifies preparation for the journey of the Hereafter and collecting oneself for departure (and whoever does not carry a staff is neglectful of the impending journey).

Similarly, the body attains maturity at this age and so also do the ranks of felicity or wretchedness. And for this reason it is mentioned in hadith that Satan strokes a face that does not achieve salvation by the age of forty years, and says:

بِأَبي و أُمِّي وَجْهاً لا يُفلِحُ أَبَداً

May my father and mother be ransomed for the face that shall never prosper.11

And adds, “Your name has been enlisted in the register of my troops.” And that which is stated in a tradition, that one who assists a blind man for forty steps becomes worthy of entering paradise, it literally means someone who lacks eyesight, and its interpretation (ta'wil) is someone who is blind due to the lack of inner sight, because the blind man lacking eyesight does not reach actuality from potentiality after completing forty steps, though he may come near it, and if left to himself he would return to his earlier state and the completion of spiritual excellence (ihsan) and the attainment of guidance is realized on completion of forty [steps] and in this respect results in worthiness for paradise.

Similarly, it has been mentioned in a hadith that everyone's neighbourhood extends until forty houses in the four directions,12 and beyond that number it is as if they belong to separate worlds. Its interpretation, in respect of neighbourhood and affinity, pertains to the faculties13 (quwa) which are those of Imagination (wahmiyyah), Appetite (shahwiyyah), and Anger (ghadabiyyah),14 and whoever does not draw away forty stages from the stages of these faculties has not left their worlds and is still in their neighbourhood.

Hence if the neighbourhood and vicinity relate to the faculty of the corporeal (mulki) intellect, they describe for one another their circumstance:

أَجارَتَنا إنَّا غريبونَ ههُنا وَ كُلُ غريبٍ لِلْغَريبِ نَسيبُ

O neighbour, we are strangers here, And every stranger has a kindred in another.

And if the neighbourhood should be one of the satanic, predatory and bestial faculties of Appetite, they address one another with this song:

أَجارَتَنا إنَّ الخُطوبَ تَنُوبُ وَ إنِّي مُقِيمٌ ما أقامَ عشيب

Calamities come down,
Yet I shall stand ground as long as
Mountains (reading Asib for `ashib) stand.15

In fine, the property of the number forty in manifesting actuality and developing capacity and potentiality and in the attainment of enduring habit (malikah) is something which has been clearly stated in the verses of the scripture and the traditions and tested by the experience of the people of esoteric knowledge and secrets.

That is the reason why the noble tradition informs us about the attainment of the marks of sincerity (khulus) at this stage, as it is the source of the spring of gnosis and wisdom. And there is no doubt that every fortunate person who resolves to traverse these forty stages will find the mainspring of gnosis gush forth from the ground of his heart after he has developed the capacity of khulus to the point of actuality.

These forty stages belong to the world of khulus and ikhlas and the destination and end of these stages is a world above the world of the mukhlasin, [a world described by the Prophet in the words]:

أَبِيتُ عِنْدَ رَبِيِّ يُطْعِمُني وَ يَسْقِيني

I spend the night with my Lord, and He feeds me and gives me to drink.16

As the Divine the food and drink [mentioned here] are the higher teachings (ma`arij) and the infinite true sciences.

And that is why the feast given to the Seal of the Prophets (s) on the night of the Ascent (mi`raj)has been described as “milk and rice,”17 for milk in this world stands for the true sciences in the realm of immateriality, and that is why milk seen in dreams is interpreted as knowledge.

The wayfarer of these stages reaches his destination when his journey takes place in the world of khulus, not that he obtains khulus in these stages. For that which has been said is:

مَنْ أَخْلَصَ للهِ أَربَعين صَباحاً ...

Whoever dedicates himself to God for forty days . . . .

Hence, in these forty stages, the stage of khulus must have been reached already. Therefore the world of khulus is the beginning of these stages, not that the door of gnosis is opened to everyone who practices austerities for forty days or that he may obtain khulus in forty days. Hence the traveller in the world of this hadith cannot do without certain things:18

First: A non‑detailed, overall knowledge of the destination, which is the world of manifestation of the springs of wisdom. For so long as one does not have any notion of the destination, one cannot make any effort to seek it.

Second: Entry into the world of khulus and its gnosis.

Third: Journey through the forty stages of this world.

Four: Traversing the several worlds that precede the world of khulus, so that he may enter the world of khulus after having traversed them.

An Overview of the Destination

As to the knowledge of the destination referred to in the statement:

ظَهَرَتْ يَنابِيعُ الْحِكْمَةِ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ

. . . springs of wisdom emerge from his heart

We may say that the destination is the world of eternal life, which in other words is called `subsistence through the Worshipped One' (baqa' be ma`bud), and the emergence of the springs of wisdom, which are the true sciences, refers to it. Because the true sciences and the true teachings are the nourishment of sacred souls which they receive from their Lord and is the Divine nourishment for eternal life.

بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ

Rather, they are alive, nourished near their Lord

Rather, they are alive, nourished near their Lord, and attainment to this world implies encompassment of all the degrees of unlimited perfection, including attainment of complete immateriality to the extent of one's contingent potentiality, because corporeality and eternal life do not go together and matter and corporeality‑belong to the world of contingency and every continent is subject to destruction:19

كُلُّ شَيْءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلَّا وَجْهَهُ

Every thing is fated to perish save His Face.

The face of every thing is the aspect with which it is faced by others and with which it is manifested and revealed for them. Hence the face of everyone is his manifestation (mazhar). Therefore, destruction and dissolution are necessary for every thing except the manifestations of Divine Attributes or Names. There have been many perfect (kummal) souls who, though they got a scent of the sciences and the ma`arif, but did not partake of a single drop of the spring of wisdom, and the spring of wisdom refers to the source of all graces and the fountainhead of all excellences.

Hence among the sublime ranks (maratib) of this world is manifestation (mazhariyyat) of, the Divine lights which are beyond destruction and dissolution in accordance with the explicit text of the Qur’an.20

And among its ranks is total encompassment of the Divine realms (`awalim‑a ilahiyyah) to the extent of the [the individual's] contingent potentialities, as wisdom is true knowledge free from any uncertainty and doubt, and its attainment does not occur without total encompassment (ihateh ye kulliyyeh).

The result of this encompassment is the knowledge of the past and the future and power of dispensation over the matters (mawadd) of the universe, as that which envelopes possesses ultimate domination over that which is enveloped, accompanying everyone and ‑being present everywhere, excepting that from which one is prevented due to occupation with the management of bodily functions.

Attainment to the totality of these ranks takes place after release from the management of the body, and all the other degrees of the graces of this world are boundless and unlimited and their description impossible.

  • 1. وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَىٰ﴿١٣﴾ عِندَ سِدْرَةِ الْمُنتَهَىٰ ﴿١٤﴾

    “Indeed he saw him another time, by the Lote‑Tree of the Boundary.” (53:13-14)

    فَتَدَلَّىٰ ﴿٨﴾ فَكَانَ قَابَ قَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنَىٰ ﴿٩﴾

    “then he approached and drew closer, two‑bows'‑length away or nearer.” (53:8-9)

    وَجِئْنَا بِكَ عَلَىٰ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ شَهِيدًا﴿٤١﴾

    “And We bring thee as a witness over these. “(4:41)

  • 2. See al‑Ziyarat al jami'ah:

    ... فَبِحَقِّ مَنِ ائْتَمَنَكُمْ على سِرِّهِ وَ اسْتَرْعاكُمْ اَمْرَ خَلْقِهِ وَ ...

    By the right of Him who made you trustees of His secret and appointed you guardians over His creation.

  • 3. This sentence does not occur with such a wording in the Glorious Qur'an. However, in three places in the Glorious Qur’an there are passages with a similar wording:

    وَهَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ مُوسَىٰ ﴿٩﴾ إِذْ رَأَىٰ نَارًا فَقَالَ لِأَهْلِهِ امْكُثُوا إِنِّي آنَسْتُ نَارًا لَّعَلِّي آتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِقَبَسٍ أَوْ أَجِدُ عَلَى النَّارِ هُدًى ﴿١٠﴾ 

    Hast thou received the story of Moses? When he saw afire, and said to his household, 'Tarry you here; I observe a fire. Perhaps I shall bring you a brand front it, or I shall find at the fire guidance.'(20:10)

    إِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِأَهْلِهِ إِنِّي آنَسْتُ نَارًا سَآتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ أَوْ آتِيكُم بِشِهَابٍ قَبَسٍ لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَصْطَلُونَ ﴿النمل: ٧﴾

    “When Moses said to his household, I observe afire, and will bring you news from it, or I will bring you a flaming brand, that haply you may warm yourselves.”(27:7)

    فَلَمَّا قَضَىٰ مُوسَى الْأَجَلَ وَسَارَ بِأَهْلِهِ آنَسَ مِن جَانِبِ الطُّورِ نَارًا قَالَ لِأَهْلِهِ امْكُثُوا إِنِّيآنَسْتُ نَارًا لَّعَلِّي آتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ أَوْ جَذْوَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَصْطَلُونَ ﴿القصص: ٢٩﴾

    “So when Moses had completed the term and departed with his household, he observed on the side of the Mount a fire. He said to his household, 'Tarry you here; I observe a fire. Perhaps I shall bring you new from it, or fagot from the fire, that haply you may warm yourselves.' ” (28:29)

    As can be seen, this passage does not occur in any of the three Qur’anic verses mentioned above, although it bears a correct sense. Perhaps the author, may God elevate his station, did not intend to give a 'citation from the Qur'an but wanted to compose a sentence in his own fine style by drawing on all the three verses with some additions.

  • 4. Narrations concerning the emergence of wisdom from the heart and upon the tongue are recorded in three Shi`i sources of hadith, firstly in 'Uyun akhbar al‑Rida ('a), p. 258, secondly, in 'Uddat al‑da'i, p. 170, thirdly, in Usul al‑Kafi, vol. 2, p. 16. It has been reproduced in the Biharal‑anwar from 'Uddat al‑da’i (vol. 15, juz' 2, p. 85) and again from the 'Uddah (ibid., p. 87) and al‑Kafi (p. 85). The 'Uyun narrates the tradition with its isnad from Darim ibn. Qabisah ibn Nahshal ibn Majma'al‑Nahshali al‑San`ani at Surra Man Ra'a: (Samarra'):

    حَدَّثَنا عليّ بن موسى الرضا عن ابيه عن جده عن محمد بن عليّ عن ابيه عن جابر بن عبد الله عن عليٍّ قال: قالَ رَسولُ الله (ص): ما أَخْلَصَ عَبْدٌ لِلّهِ أَرْبَعينَ صَباحاً إلا جَرتْ يَنابِيعُ الحِكْمَةِ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ على لِسانِهِ.

    He said: “Narrated to us Ali ibn Musa al‑Rida, from his father, from his grandfather, from Muhammad ibn Ali, from his father, from Jabir ibn Abd Allah, from ‘Ali, that he said: `The Messenger of Allah (s)said: “A servant does not dedicate himself to God for forty days without springs of wisdom flowing from his heart on his tongue.” “'

    However, the wording mentioned in the Bihar, and also Safinat al‑Bihar, is:

    ما أَخْلَصَ لِلّهِ أَرْبَعينَ صَباحاً

    As to the narration of Uddat al‑da'i, it is cited as a mursal tradition (i.e. a tradition without a connected chain of authorities) from the Messenger of Allah (s) that he said:

    مَنْ أَخْلَصَ لِلّهِ أَرْبَعينَ يَوماً فَجَّرَ الله يَنابِيعُ الحِكْمَةِ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ على لِسانِهِ.

    Whoever dedicates [himself] to God for forty days, God makes springs of wisdom flow from his heart on his tongue.

    As for the narration of al‑Kafi, it is given with an isnad from Ibn `Uyaynah, from al‑Sindi from Abu ja`far (`a) that he said:

    مَا أَخْلَصَ عَبْدٌ الإيْمانَ بِاللهِ أَرْبَعينَ يَوماً... أو قال: ما أَجْمَلَ عَبْدٌ ذِكْرَ اللهَ أرْبَعِينَ يَوماً إلا زَهَّدَهُ الله في الدُنيا وَ بَصَّرَهُ دائَها وَ دَوائَها وَ أَثْبَتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فيْ قَلْبِهِ وَ أَنْطَقَ بِها لِسانِهِ ...

    A servant does not foster pure faith in God for forty days... (or he said) A servant does not refine his remembrance of God for forty days without God making him detached toward the world and granting him the vision to see its ills and their remedies and establishing wisdom in his heart and making his tongue speak with it...

    As can be seen, though the wording is different the meaning is the same. As to the books of the Sunnis (Ammah), it is mentioned in the Jhya'al‑ ‘ulm, vol. 4, p. 322:

    قالَ رسول الله: ما مِنْ عَبْدٍ يُخْلِصُ لِلهِ الْعَمَلَ أَرْبَعينَ يَوماً إلَّا ظَهَرَتْ يَنابِيعُ الحِكْمَةِ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ على لِسانِهِ.

    The Messenger of Allah said: `No servant performs his works purely for God's sake for forty days without the springs of wisdom emerging from his heart on his tongue.

    On page 191 the following is mentioned in the gloss:

    مَنْ زَهَدَ في الدُنْيا أَرْبَعِينَ يَوماً وَ أَخْلَصَ فِيها العِبادةَ أَجرَى الله يَنابِيعُ الحِكْمَةِ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ على لِسانِهِ.

    Should one who renounce the world for forty days and perform worship therein with complete dedication, God will make springs of wisdom flow from his heart on his tongue.

    In the Awarif al‑ma`arif printed on the margins of Ihya' al‑'ulum, vol. 2, p. 256, it is mentioned:

    قولَ رسول الله: مِنْ أَخْلَصَ لِلهِ أَرْبَعينَ صَباحاً ظَهَرَتْ يَنابِيعُ الحِكْمَةِ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ على لِسانِهِ.

    A statement of the Messenger of Allah: `Whoever dedicates [himself] to God for forty days, God makes springs of wisdom flow from his heart on his tongue.'

  • 5. Manazil is plural of manzil (lit. stopping place), which is a place where the travellers halt to relax, and as the halt for resting is made mostly after four parasangs, the distance of four parasangs (which is the same as the barid) is called a manzil.

    Marahil is plural of marhalah which is a day's journey, and that consists of two manzils or two bands. The author, may God's merry be upon him, has likened the worlds to marahil so that the covering of one marhalah and entry into another consists of passage through one world and entry into another, and he has likened the stages within the worlds to manazil so that covering a manzil and reaching another manzil is like arriving at a stage.

  • 6. Ihya'al‑'ulam, vol. 4, p. 238 cites the following tradition of the Messenger of God (s)

    إنَّ اللهَ خَمَّرَ طينَةَ آدَمَ بِيِدهِ أَرْبَعِينَ صَباحاً

    Verily, God leavened Adam's clay with His two Hands for forty days.

    The Mirsad al‑ibad, p. 38, and Risaleh ye 'ishq, p. 83, cite the following tradition:

    خَمَّرْتُ طينَةَ آدَمَ بِيِدي أَرْبَعِينَ صَباحاً

    I leavened the day of Adam for forty days with My Hands.

    In the Awarif al‑ma'arif, printed on the margins of Ihya'al‑'ulum, vol. 2, p. 260, it is stated:

     فَمِنَ التُرابِ كَوَّنَهُ، وَأربعينَ صَباحاً خَمَّرَ طِينَتَهُ، لِيَبْعُدَ بِالْتَخْمِيرِ أربعينَ صباحاً بأربعينَ حجاباً مِنَ الْحَضْرَةِ الْآلهْيِةِ. كُلُ حِجابٍ هُوَ مَعْنىً مُوَدَّعٌ فيه. يَصْلَحُ بِهِ لِعِمارةِ الدُنيا وَ يَتَعَوَّقُ به عَنِ الْحَضْرَةِ الْآلهْيِةِ وَ مَواطِنِ الْقُرْبِ

    . . . so He fashioned him from clay and leavened his clay for forty days, so as to remove with a forty‑day leavening forty veils that conceal the Divine Presence. Every veil is a property impressed in him wherewith he is afforded to foster his worldly interests, but which separates him from the Divine Presence and the abodes of Divine Proximity.

  • 7. This is referred to in the following verses:

    وَإِذْ وَاعَدْنَا مُوسَىٰ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً

    “And when we appointed with Moses forty nights.” (2:51)

    فَتَمَّ مِيقَاتُ رَبِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً...

    ….. so the appointed time of his Lord was forty nights.(7:142)

    قَالَ فَإِنَّهَا مُحَرَّمَةٌ عَلَيْهِمْ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً يَتِيهُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ...

    “Said He: 'Then it shall be forbidden them for forty years, they shall wander in the earth.” (5:26)

  • 8. As stated by God, the Exalted:

    .. حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ ..

    “Until, when he is fully grown, and reaches forty years, he says, “O my Lord, dispose me that I may be thankful for Thy blessing wherewith .Thou hast blessed me . . . .” (46:15)

    Accordingly, the maximum power of the intellect is at the age of forty years, and the common notion that the human being's intellect grows at forty is erroneous. This misconception arises because after this age man acquires greater experience and his judgment is more often correct due to this accumulated experience; however, its accuracy is due to greater experience and not due to the actual power of the intellect, so if supposedly one had this experience at forty years one would make that accurate rational judgment at that time, that is, at the age of forty.

  • 9. In the second part of Usul al‑Kafi, p. 455, the following marfu` tradition, without a continuous chain of authorities, is cited from Hadrat Abu Jafar ('a):

    إذا أَتَتْ عَلى الرَّجُلِ أَرْبَعونَ سَنَةً قِيلَ لَهُ خُذْ حِذرَكْ فإنَّكَ غَيْرُ مَعْذور ...

    When a man enters his fortieth year, it is said to him, “Now be careful, because (henceforth) you will not have any excuse.

  • 10. The following traditions are reported in Saduq's al‑Khisal, p. 545, from Imam Sadiq (‘a):

    إنّ الْعَبْدَ لَفي فُسحَةٍ من أمرهِ ما بَيْنَهُ وَ بَيْنَ أربعينَ سَنَةً فَإِذا بَلَغَ أرْبَعينَ سَنَةً أوْحى الله عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ إلى ملكيه: إنّي قَدْ عَمّرتُ عَبْدي عُمْراً فَغلّظا وَ شَدِّدا وَ تَحفَّظا وَ اكْتُبا عَلَيْهِ قَليلَ عَملِهِ وَ كَثيرَهُ وصَغيرَهُ وَ كَبيرَهُ.

    Verily, a man has an amplitude [of freedom] until forty years; but when he reaches forty, God, the Almighty and Glorious, reveals to His angels, “Verily, I have made My servant come of age, so now be strict and severe with him and record and write down his every action, whether it is a minor one or a major one, and whether his works are abundant or sparse.”

     إذا بَلَغَ العَبدُ ثلاثاً وثلاثين فَقَدْ بَلَغَ أشُدَّهُ، وَ إذا بَلَغَ أربعينَ سَنَةً فَقَدْ بَلَغَ مُنْتَهاهُ. فَإذا طَعَنَ في إحدى وأربعينَ فَهُوَ في النُقْصانِ، وَ يَنْبَغي لِصاحِبِ الْخَمْسينَ أنْ يَكونَ كَمَنْ كَانَ في النَزِّعِ.

    When a servant reaches thirty‑three he comes of age, and when he reaches forty years, he attains to his ultimate maturity. Hence as he enters forty‑one his powers are on decline, and it is befitting for one at fifty to consider himself like someone in his death throes.

    In Jami' al‑akhbar, fas 76, p. 140, it is reported from the Prophet (s) that he said:

    أبْناءُ الأربعين زَرْعٌ قَدْ دَنَا حَصادُهُ

    Persons of fifty years are like a field ready for harvest.

    And Safinat al‑Bihar, p. 504, cites the following narration:

    إذا بَلَغَ الرَّجُلُ أربعينَ سَنَةً وَ لَمْ يَتُبْ مَسَحَ إبْلِيسُ وَجْهَهُ و قال: بِأَبي ... وَجْهٌ لا يَفْلَحُ ...

    When a man reaches forty years without penitence, Iblis strokes his face and says, “May my father and mother by your ransom, a face that will not prosper!”

    There are many traditions which mention the number forty, such as the one recorded in the Bihar, vol. 14, p. 512:

    إنَّ مَنْ قَرَأَ الْحَمْدَ أَربَعينَ مَرَّةً في الماء ثُمَّ يَصُّبُ على المَحمُومِ يُشْفيهِ الله.

    Verily, if one recites the Surat al‑Hamd forty times on water and pours it on someone suffering from fever, God shall cure him.

    And in al‑Kafi, vol. 6, p. 401, there is a tradition from Hadrat Baqir ('a) that he said:

    مَنْ شَرَبَ الْخَمْرَ لَمْ تُحْتَسَبْ لَهُ صَلاَتُهُ أَربَعينَ يَوْماً.

    The prayers of someone who drinks wine are not reckoned as such for forty days.

    The Jami' al‑akhbar, fasl 109, p. 171, narrates the following tradition from the Messenger of God (s)

    مَنْ اغْتابَ مُسْلِماً أَوْ مُسْلِمَةً لَمْ يَقْبَلِ الله تعالى صلاته و لا صِيامهِ أرْبَعينَ يَوماً وَ لَيلةً إلَّا أّنْ يَغْفِر لَهُ صَاحِبُهُ.

    For forty days and nights, God, the Exalted, does not accept the prayers and fasts of someone who backbites a Muslim man or woman unless that person pardons him.

    In the Bihar, vol. 13, p. 245, the following sentence occurs in a noble message (tawqi) [of the Imam of the Age]:

    إنَّ الْأَرْضَ تَضِّجُ إلى الله مِنْ بَولِ الأغْلَفِ أرْبَعينَ صَباحاً.

    For forty days the earth complains to God on account of the urine of the uncircumcised man (that falls on the ground.)

    In al‑Khisal, p. 538, al‑Saduq narrates with his continuous chain of authorities:

    إذا ماتَ الْمُؤمِنُ فَحَضَرَ جَنَازَتَهُ أَرْبَعُوُنَ رَجُلاً مِنَ الْمُؤمِنين فَقالوا: اْلّلَّهُمَّ إنَّا لا نَعْلَمُ منه إلّا خَيْراً وَ أنْتَ أَعْلَمُ بِهِ مِنَّا. قالَ الله تَباركَ و تَعالى: قَد أَجَزْتُ شَهادَتُكُمْ وَ غَفَرْتُ لَهُ مَا عَلِمْتُ مِمَّا لا تَعْلَمُون.

    When a believer dies and forty men from among the believers attend his funeral and say, “O God, we know nothing about him except goodness, and You know him better than we do.” God, the Exalted and the Blessed, says, “Your testimony suffices Me, and I forgive him what I know of things that you do not know.

    And in 'Uddat al‑da'i, p. 128, “bab du`a li al‑ikhwan wa iltimasihi minhum,” the following tradition is reported on the authority of Ibn Abi `Umayr from Hisham ibn Salim from Abu Abd Allah ('a):

    مَنْ قَدَّمَ أرْبَعينَ مِنَ الْمُؤمِنينَ ثُمَّ دَعا أُسْتجِيبَ لَهُ.

    If someone brings forward forty believers and makes a prayer, his supplication is answered.

    In Bihar al‑Anwar, vol. 18, p. 204, “Kitab al‑Jana'iz,” there is a section (bab) entitled “Bab Shahadat arba'ina li al‑Mayyit,” where the following tradition is cited from 'Uddat al‑da'i from Hadrat Sadiq ('a):

    كان في بني إسرائيل عابدٌ فأوحى الله تبارك إلى داود (ع): إنه مُراءٍ. قال:ثُمَّ إنَّهُ ماتَ فَلَمْ يشْهَدْ جَنازَتُهُ داود (ع). قال: فَقَامَ أَربعون مِنْ بَني اسرائيلَ فَقالوا: اللهم إنَّا لا نَعلمُ مِنْهُ إلَا خَيْراً وَ أنْتَ أَعلَمُ بِهِ مِنَّا فَأغْفِرْ لَهُ. فَلَمَّا غُسِّلَ أتى أربَعونَ غَيْرَ ألارْبَعينَ وَ قالوا: اللهم إنَّا لا نَعلمُ مِنْهُ إلَا خَيْراً وَ أنْتَ أَعلَمُ بِهِ مِنَّا فَأغْفِرْ لَهُ. فَلَما وُضِعَ في قَبرهِ قامَ أرْبَعونَ غَيْرَهُمْ فَقالوا: اللهم إنَّا لا نَعلمُ مِنْهُ إلَا خَيْراً وَ أنْتَ أَعلَمُ بِهِ مِنَّا فَأغْفِرْ لَهُ. فَأَوْحى الله تعالى الى داود عليه السلام مَا مَنَعَكَ أنْ تُصلي عَلَيْه؟ قالَ داود عليه السلام: الذي أخْبَرْتَنِي. قال: فأوحى الله إليه إنَّهُ قَدْ شَهِدَ قَوْمٌ فأَجَزْتَ شَهادَتُهُمْ وَ غَفَرتُ لَهُ ما عَلِمْتُ مِمَّا لا يَعلَمونَ.

    There was a devout person amongst the Children of Israel about whom God had informed David ('a) that he was hypocritical in his piety when he died, David ('a) did not attend his funeral. Then forty persons from the Israelites stood up and said, “O God, we know nothing about him except goodness and You know him better than we do, so forgive him.”

    When his body had been washed, another forty came forward and said, “O God, we know nothing about him except goodness and You know him better than we do, so forgive him.” When he was laid in his grave another forty stood up and said, “O God, we know nothing about him except goodness and You know him better than we do, so forgive him.”

    Then God, the Exalted, revealed to David ('a), “What kept you from making prayer over him?” David ('a) said, “That which You had told me.” Thereat God revealed to him, “Verily, a group of people bore witness (in his favour). I accepted their witness as sufficient and I forgave him what I knew and that which they did not know”

    And in 'Uddat al‑da'i p. 201, the following remedy is suggested for the removal of illness and disease:

    الثالث بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله رب العالمين حَسْبُنا الله و نعم الوكيل تَبارَكَ اللهُ أَحسنُ الْخالِقينَ لا حوَلَ و لا قُوَةَ إلَّا بالله العَلِّيِّ الْعَظيم. يَدْعو بِهذا اربعين مرَّةً عقيبَ صَلاة الصُبْحِ. و يمسَحُ بِهِ على العِلَّةِ كائناً ما كانتْ خصوصا الفِطْرُ يَبْراُ بإذنِ الله. و قد صُنِعَ ذلك فأُشْفِعَ بهِ.

    Thirdly (one should recite), “Bismillah al‑rahman al‑rahim. Al‑hamdu lillahi rabb al‑'alamin. Hasbunallah wa ni'm al‑wakil, tabarak Allahu ahsan al‑khaliqin. La hawla wa la quwwata ilia billah al‑'ali al‑'azim.” He should recite this forty times in a supplication following the dawn prayer and then stroke the sick person. Whatever is his affliction, especially if it were an open wound it will be cured with the permission of God. This (formula) has been tried and cure has been obtained through it.

    Again in `Uddat al‑da'i, p. 94, it is stated:

    وَ مَنْ دَعا لاَربَعيْن مِنْ اِخْوانهِ بأسمائِهمْ وَ اسْماءِ آبائِهم. وَ مَن بِيَدهِ خاتَم فَيْروزج أَوْ عَقيقٍ

    . . . and one who prays for forty of his brothers, mentioning their names and the names of their fathers. And one who has a ring in his hand studded with turquoise or carnelian . . . .

    In Bihar al‑anwar, vol. 14, p. 551, it is stated on the authority of the Shahid:

    روى مُداواةَ الْحُمَّى بِصَبِّ الماء. فإنَّ شَّدَّ عليهِ فَلْيَدْخُل يَدَهُ في ماءٍ باردٍ. و مَنِ اْشْتَدَّ وَجَعُهُ قَرَأَ على قَدَحْ ماءٍ أرْبَعينَ مَرَّةً الْحَمْدُ ثُمَّ يَضَعَهُ عليه وَ لِيَجْعَلِ المَريض عِنْدَهُ مُكْتلاً بِرَّاً و يُتناوِلُ السائلُ مِنْهُ بِيَدِهِ و يَأمُرُهُ أَنْ يُدْعَوْ لَهُ فَيُعافى.

    The remedy of fever by pouring water (on the sick person) has been narrated; but if that is difficult let him put his hand in cold water. For one who has severe pain al‑Hamd should be recited forty times over a pail of water which is put on the sick person who is made to sit up, assisted by the helper with his hand, and told to pray, whereat he will be cured.

    And in the Iqbal al‑A'mal, p. 589, it is stated [by Ibn Tawus]: “I have narrated a tradition with my isnad from Abu Ja`far al‑Tusi, my grandfather, which he has narrated with his isnad from our master, al‑Hasan ibn A1i al‑Askari, may God's blessings be upon him, that he said:

    علاماتُ المؤمِن خمس: صَلَواتُ إحدى وَ خَمسين و زيارةُ الاربعين و التَخَتُم بِاليَمين و تَعْفير الْجَبين و الجَهْرُ بِسمِ الله الرَّحمن الرَّحيم.

    The signs of a believer are five: performing fifty‑one rak'ahs of prayer, making the ziyarah of arba'in, wearing a ring in the right hand, placing the forehead on dust [during prostration], and saying “Bismillah al‑rahman al‑rahim” aloud.

    In al‑Khisal, p. 541, it is narrated from Hadrat Amir al‑Mu'minin ('a) that he said:

    قال رسولُ الله (ص): مَنْ حَفِظَ من أُمَّتي أربعينَ حديثاً مِمَّا يَحتاجونَ إليهِ مِنْ أَمرِ دِينِهمْ بَعَثَهُ اللهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيامَةِ فَقِيهاً عالِماً.

    The Messenger of Allah said: “One who preserves for the sake of my ummah forty traditions relating to their religious needs, God shall raise him as a learned scholar on the Day of Resurrection.

    In Bihar al‑anwar, vol. 5, p. 43, a tradition is cited from An ibn Ibrahim's Tafsir, from Hadrat Sadiq ('a)that he said:

    فَبَقى آدمُ أربَعينَ صباحاً ساجِداً يَبْكي على الْجَنَةِ.

    . . . so for forty days Adam remained in prostration, weeping for the loss of paradise.

    And in Ikmal al‑Din, p. 13, it is narrated from Hadrat Abu Ja'far (`a) that he said:

    فَبَكى آدَمُ عَلى هابيل أربَعينَ لَيْلةً.

    Adam wept for Abel for forty nights.

    On page 86 it cites a tradition of Hadrat Sadiq ('a)from Ali ibn Ibrahim's Tafsir that he said [concerning Noah's flood]:

    فَبَقى الماء يَنْصَبُّ مِنَ السَّماء أربعينَ صباحاً وَ مِنَ الأرضِ الَعيون...

    So for forty days water continued to pour from the heaven and to stream out from the earth.

    Baydawi in his commentary on the verse وَ لمَّا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ “Until, he is fully grown. . . “(46:15) says:

    إنَّ مبلغهُ الذي لا يزيد عليه نشوؤهُ، و ذلك مِنْ ثلاثينَ إلى أربَعِينَ سَنةً فإنَّ الْعَقْل يَكْمُلُ حِينَئذٍ.
    وَ رويَ أنَّهُ لَمْ يُبْعَث نَبيِّ إلَّا على رأسٍ أربَعينَ و اْستوى قدّه او عَقلُهُ ...

    His mature age is that after which there is no further growth, and that is from thirty to forty years; for it is then that the intellect becomes perfect. And it has been narrated that there has been no prophet whose ministry did not start at forty, which is the time when body and mind attain maturity.

    In al‑Khisal, p. 539it is narrated from Hadrat Baqir ( `a) that he said:

     أملى الله عز وجل لفرعون ما بَيْنَ الْكَلِمَتين أربعينَ سنةً... ثُمَّ أَخَذَهُ اللهُ نَكالَ الآخِرَةِ وَ الْأُولى... وكانَ بَيْنَ أَن قال الله عزَّ وجلَّ لِمُوسى و هارون "قد أُجِيبَتْ دَعْوَتُكُما"، و بَيْنَ أَنّْ عَرَّفَهُ اللهُ أَربعينَ سنةَ .. ثم قال: قال جبرئيل: نازَلْتُ رَبي في فرعونَ منازلةً شديدةً فَقُلتُ: يا ربِّ تَدَعُهُ وقَدْ قال: أَنَّا رَبَكُمُ الأعلى. فقال: إنَّما يَقول بِقَولِ هذا عبدٌ مِثْلُكْ. (إنَّما يقول بِقولِ ... هذا عبد مثلك)

    Between the two words God, Almighty and Glorious, gave a forty year respite to Pharaoh . . . . Then God seized him for the punishment of the world and the Hereafter . . . . And there passed forty years from the time when God, Almighty and Glorious, said to Moses and Aaron, “Indeed, I have answered your prayer” until the time when God drowned him. . . Gabriel said, “I pleaded with my Lord strongly in the matter of Pharaoh and I said, `O Lord, do You leave him while he says, “I am your supreme lord”? He said, “He is only saying it. He is also a creature like you.”

    Then in an explanation of this tradition Majlisi, may God's mercy ‑be upon him, says:

    Perhaps that which is meant here by `the two words' is the statement of God, the Exalted, “I have answered your prayer,” and His drowning Pharaoh (in the sea) or the utterance of Pharaoh “I do not know that you have any god except I” and his saying, “I am your supreme lord.”

    In Bihar al‑Anwar, vol. 5, p. 433, there is a report that a group of Jews came to Abu Talib and said:

    يا أبا طالب إِنَّ ابنَ أَخِيكَ يَزْعُمُ أَنَّ خَبَرَ السَماءِ يَأتيهِ ونَحْنُ نَسْأَلهُ عَنْ مَسائِلَ فإِن أجابَ عَنْها عَلِمْنَا أنَّهُ صادِقْ. وَ إِنْ لَمْ يُخْبِرْنا عَلِمْنَا أنَّهُ كاذِب. فقال أبوطالب: سَلُوهُ عَمَّا بَدا لَكُمْ. فَسَأَلُوُهُ عَن ثَلاثِ مَسائِلْ. فقال رسولُ اللهِ (ص): غَدَاً أُخْبِرُكُمْ ((وَ لَمْ يَسْتَثْنِ)) فَاحْتَبَسَ الوَحْيُ عَنْهُ أَرْبَعينَ يَوماً حَتَّى اِغْتَمَّ النَّبيُ (ص) وَ شَكَّ أصْحابُهُ الَّذِينَ كَانُوا آمَنُوا بِهِ... 

    “O Abu Talib, your nephew claims to receive communications from the heavens and we will him certain questions. Should he answer them we would know that he is truthful and if he does not we would know that he is a liar.” Abu Talib said, `Ask him whatever you wish.” So they asked him concerning three matters. The Messenger of Allah (s) said to them, “I will inform you tomorrow,” and he did not say “God willing.” Therefore, revelation (wahee) was withheld from him for forty days, as a result of which the Prophet (s) was distressed and his Companions who had believed in him fell into doubt.

    Bihar al‑Anwar, vol. 6, p. 117, cites a tradition from the book 'Udad by Shaykh Radi al‑Din Ali ibn Yusuf ibn Mutahhar al‑Hilli, brother of Allamah Hilli, concerning the birth of Hadrat Fatimah where it is said:

    اذ هَبَطَ جَبْرائِيلُ في صُورَتِهِ الْعُظْمَى قد نَشَرَ أجْنِحَتَهُ حَتَّى أَخَّذَتْ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ الى الْمَغْرِبِ فَنْادى يا مُحَمَّدْ، الْعليُّ الأعلى يَقْرأُ عَليْكَ السَّلام وَ هُوَ يَأْمُرْكَ أنّ تَعْتَزِلَ عَنْ خَديجةَ اربعينَ صَبْاحاً... فَشُقَّ ذلِك عَلَى النَّبي (ع) وَ كانَ لها مُحِبَّاً وَ بها وامِقاً. فأقام النبي (ع) أَرْبَعينَ يَوماً يَصُومُ النَّهار ويَقومُ اللَّيْلُ...

    When Gabriel descended m his mightiest form, he opened his wings until they extended from the east to the west. Then he called, “O Muhammad, the Highest and the Supreme gives you salaam and He commands you to refrain from Khadijah for forty days .... That was hard upon the Prophet (s) for he loved her tenderly Then for forty days the Prophet (s) would fast during the days and spent the nights in worship.

    With this end our citations from narrations mentioning the word arba'in (forty).

  • 11. This tradition is cited in Safinat al‑bihar, vol. 1, p. 504; in Ihya'al‑'ulum, vol. 3, p. 25 it is cited as follows:

    إذا بَلَغَ الرجُلُ أَربَعين سَنَةً وَلَمْ يَتُبْ مَسَحَ الشَّيْطانُ وَجْهَهُ بِيَدِهِ وَ قالَ: بِأَبي وَجْهُ مَنْ لا يُفلِحُ.

    When a man reaches forty years without ever repenting, Satan strokes his face with his hand and says, “May my father be your ransom, it is the face of one who will not prosper!”

  • 12. There are four narrations related to this tradition cited in Wasa'il al‑Shi'ah, “Kitab al‑Hajj.” “Ahkam al‑`Ishrah,” bab 90. The first of them is from Kulayni who reports with his isnad from Hadrat Baqir ('a) that he said:

     حَدُ الْجِوارِ أَربَعُونَ داراً مِنْ كُلِّ جانِبٍ مِنْ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَ مِنْ خَلْفِهِ وَ عَنْ يَمِينِهِ وَ عَنْ شِمالِهِ.

    The limits of neighbourhood extend to forty houses in every direction, to the front, to the rear, to the right, and to the left.

    The second one is also one narrated by al‑Kulayni with his isnad from Hadrat Sadiq:

    قال رسولُ اللهِ (ص): كُلُّ أربعينَ داراً جِيران مِنْ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَ مَنْ خَلْفِهِ وَعَنْ يَمِيِنِهِ وَعَنْ شِمالِهِ

    The Messenger of Allah (s) said, “All the forty houses to the front and the rear, to the left and to the right are neighbours.”

    The third one is from Shaykh Saduq in Ma'ani al‑akhbar, narrated with isnad from Hadrat Sadiq ('a):

    جُعِلْتُ فِدَاكَ ما حَدُ الجارِ؟ قال: أربعينَ داراً مِنْ كُلِّ جانِبٍ.

    Mu'awiyah ibn Ammar asked the Hadrat, “May I be made your ransom, what are the limits of neighbourhood?” He replied, “Forty houses in every direction.”

    The fourth one is from 'Uqbah ibn Khalid from Hadrat Sadiq ('a)from his ancestors:

    قال: قال أمير المؤمنين (ع): حَريمُ الْمَسجِدْ أربعونَ داراً، والجوارُ أربعونَ داراً مِنْ أرْبَعَةِ جَوانِبِها.

    The Commander of the Faithful ('a) said, “The holy precincts (harim) of a mosque extend up to forty houses, and neighbourhood extends up to forty houses in the four directions.”

  • 13. What is meant by the author is that man is captive to the fourfold powers (quwa) of the intellect ('aql), imagination (wahm), anger (ghadab)and appetite (shahwah), and until he distances himself from them to the extent of forty stages he would not attain to the station of annihilation (fana)in God.

    Withdrawal from one stage of appetite, for instance, does not liberate man from that stage completely, because the reality of that stage of appetite is still latent in him, and so long as he does not recede forty stages from the first stage its effects do not disappear completely.

    Accordingly, if we suppose the domain of appetite, for instance, to consist of several stages, man is liberated from one of its stages only when he has emancipated himself from all its forty stages, otherwise mere departure from one stage does not liberate him from it, and it is possible that some accident may bring him back to the first stage. The same applies to the domains of the intellect, anger, and imagination.

    Accordingly, one is truly liberated from the first stage of anger only when he has departed from its fortieth stage, and one is liberated from the fifth stage of the intellect only when he has departed from its fortieth stage, and so on and so forth. Hence for liberation from any of the stages one must leave all the forty stages in order to achieve complete emancipation from that stage.

    However, there is a difference between the malakuti power of the intellect and the other three powers, as the intellect is a guide and in conflict with the other three powers. The other three powers are in perpetual conflict with the intellect.

    Hence, from among the forty stages of the intellect, every two stages the distance between which is less than forty are sympathetic neighbours, as they are strangers in the world of nature and victims of the powers of Appetite, Anger and Imagination, and every stranger is sympathetic towards another stranger.

    But each of neighbourly stages belonging to the other three powers, as they find themselves to be under the attack of the forces of the‑intellect, collaborate to put up resistance and conspire together not to yield in the face of difficulties and to bear consecutive hardships with fortitude.

  • 14. It is probable that the power of the intellect has been omitted here due to a slip of the pen.
  • 15. According to Jami' al‑shawahid, these verses are by Imr' al‑Qays al‑Kindi in which he addresses a dead woman:

    That was when he was at Naqrah, where he saw a grave and inquired about it. He was told that it was the grave of a stranger, a woman. Thereupon he said:

    و ذلك إنه لما احتضر بالنقرة نظر إلى قبرٍ فسألَ عنه فقيل له هو قبر امرءةٍ غريبة فقال:
    أَجارتنا إنَّ الخُطوبَ تَنُوبُ وَ إنِّي مُقيمٌ ما أقامَ عَسيبُ
    أَجارتنا إنَّا غريبـان ههُنـا وَ كُلُ غريبٍ للغَريبِ نَسيبُ
    فإن تَصلينا فالقَرابـة بَيْنَنَا وإن تهْجُرينا فالغريب غريب

    O neighbour of ours, calamities descend,

    And yet I stand firm like the mount of Asib.

    O neighbour of ours, we are strangers here,

    And every stranger has kindred in a stranger.

    So should you join us, there is a kinship between us,

    And should you desert us, then a stranger is after all a stranger.

    Then the Jami' al‑shawahid remarks that khutub is plural of khatb (calamity or mishap) and tanub is in the sense of descending. Muqim means `steadfast' in bearing hardships and al‑Asib is the name of a mountain. Accordingly, the correct word is Asib as mentioned in some manuscripts, and 'ashib is apparently incorrect, for it means a ground covered with grass.

  • 16. In Man la yahduruh al faqih, vol 2, p. 111, “Bab al‑Siyam,” it is narrated from Mu'awiyah ibn Ammar that he said:

    سَأَلْتُ عَنْ صيامِ أَيامِ التَّشريقِ قالَ: إنَّما نَهى رَسولَ اللهِ (ص) عَنْ صِيامِها بِمِنى فَأمَّا بِغَيْرِها فَلا بَأس. و نهى رَسولُ اللهِ (ص) عَنِ الوِصالِ في الصِيام وَ كانَ يُواصِلُ. فَقيلَ لَهُ في ذلِك فَقَال: إنِّي لسْتُ كَأَحَدِكُمْ إنِّي أظِلُّ عِنْدَ رَبِّي فَيُطْعِمُني و يَسْقيني.

    I asked (the Imam) concerning fasting during the days of Tashriq. He replied, “The Apostle of Allah (s) only forbade fasting on these days at Mina, but there is no impediment to fasting at other places. The Apostle of Allah (s) forbade unbroken fasting, while he himself would fast continually. When asked about it he said, `I am not like any of you. I am continually near my Lord who feeds me and gives me to drink.”'

    The same tradition has been cited in Mahajjat al‑bayda' from Man la yahduruh al faqih. In marhum Sayyid Ali Khan's Sharh al‑Sahifah al‑Sajjadiyyah, as cited in Talkhis al‑Riyad, vol. 1, p. 37, the word is abitu (instead of azillu)and the Prophet is cited as having said:

    أَبِيْتُ عِنْدَ رَبِّي فَيُطْعِمُني و يَسْقيني.

    This was from the viewpoint of Shi`i traditions. However, in the narrations of the Ahl al‑Sunnah the expression 'inda rabbi does not occur, but in some of them the wording has abitu and in some others azillu.

    As to the first type, there is a tradition narrated in al‑Bukhari's Sahih, “Kitab al‑Tamanna,” vol. 4, p. 251, with isnad from Abu Hurayrah that he said:

    نَهى رَسولُ اللهِ (ص) عَنِ الوِصالِ. قالوا: فَإنَّكَ تُواصِلُ. قال: أيُّكُمْ مِثْلي إنِّي أبيتُ يُطْعِمُني رَبِّي و يَسْقيني.

    The Apostle of Allah (s) forbade connecting one fast with another, so they said to him, “Indeed you connect your fasts.” He replied, “Which one of you is like me. Indeed at nights my Lord feeds me and He gives me to drink.”

    In Muslim's ,Sahih, “kitab al‑siyam,” vol. 3, p. 133, there are two traditions narrated with isnad from Abu Salamah ibn Abd al‑Rahman, from Abu Hurayrah, and another from Abu Zur`ah from Abu Hurayrah, from the Messenger of God with a wording exactly as cited from Bukhari. Malik in Muwatta', “kitab al‑siyam,” p. 280, narrates with his isnad from Araj, from Abu Hurayrah that:

    إنَّ رَسولُ اللهِ قال: إيّاكُمْ وَ الوِصالِ. إيّاكُمْ وَ الوِصالِ. قالوا: فَإنَّكَ تُواصِلُ يا رَسولُ اللهِ. قال: إنِّي لسْتُ كَهَيْئَتِكُمْ إنِّي أبيتُ يُطْعِمُني رَبِّي و يَسْقيني.

    The Apostle of Allah (s) said, “Refrain from connecting your fasts! Refrain from connecting your fasts!” They said to him, “O Apostle of Allah, indeed you fast on without breaking your fast.” He said, “I am not like you. At nights my Lord feeds me and He gives me to drink.”

    As to the second version, the following tradition is narrated in Bukhari's Sahih, “Kitab al-Tamanna”, vol 4 p 251 with isnad from Anas:

    واصَلَ النَّبي آخَرَ الشَّهْرِ وَ واصَلَ أُناسٌ مِنَ النَّاسِ. فَبَلَغَ النَّبيُّ (ص) قال: لَوْ مُدَّ بيَ الشَهْرُ لَواصْلتُ وِصالاً يَدَعُ المُتَعَمِّقُونَ تَعَمُقَهُمْ. إنِّي لسْتُ مِثْلُكُمْ. إنِّي أظِلُّ يُطْعِمُني رَبِّي و يَسْقيني.

    The Prophet fasted on without breaking his fast at the end of the month and some of the people also did that. When the Prophet (s) heard about it he said, “Had the month been made longer for me I would have fasted on without breaking the fast so that those who plunge in these matters would leave oft' their plunging. Indeed I am not like you. I am continuously fed by my Lord and given to drink.

    There is another tradition narrated in “Kitab al‑Sawm,” vol. 1, p. 329 with isnad from Abd Allah ibn `Umar:

     إنَّ النَّبيَ واصَلَ فَواصَلَ النَّاسُ فَشَقَ عَلَيْهُمْ فَنَهاهُمْ. قالوا: إنَّكَ تُواصِلُ. قال: لَسْتُ كَهَيْئَتِكُمْ إنِّي أظِلُّ أُطْعَمَ وَأُسْقَى .

    In Muslim's,Sahih, “Kitab al‑Siyam,” p. 134, the tradition is cited with the wording:

    إنِّي أظِلُّ يُطْعِمُني رَبِّي و يَسْقيني

    On the same page of this book, as well as in Muwatta', “Kitab al‑Sawm,” p. 280, it is narrated that the Messenger of God said:

    إنِّي لَسْتُ كَهَيْئَتِكُمْ إنِّي أُطْعَمَ وَأُسْقَى

  • 17. That which is mentioned in the traditions is `milk' and I have not seen the expression `milk and rice' in any narration. When I asked my teacher Allamah Tabatabai about it, he said that he too had not come across any such tradition although he had made a search to find it.
  • 18. That is, journey through the worlds preceding khulus, the world of khulus, then the fourfold stages of the world of khulus, and the world of manifestation of the springs of wisdom.
  • 19. This explanation does not relate to the previous sentence but to the statement made earlier that the Divine nourishment is for the sacred souls and for eternal life. What is meant is that the body perishes but His Face, which is His manifestation, is enduring. Hence if the human soul in its journey should attain to the manifestations of the Divine Names and Attributes and become a manifestation of the Divine lights, it would partake of life near its Lord.

    Its nourishment is the same as the true sciences and teachings, which it will receive. It should be known that the realization of immateriality (tajarrud) is to the extent of one's contingent capacity (isti'dad‑e imkani).

    That is, should the wayfarer enter the world of lahut and attain annihilation (fana')in all the Divine Names, including even the Name ahad (the One) and obtain baqa' after fana', which is the same as life in the Worshipped One (baqa' bi al‑ma'bud), nevertheless, his soul will not attain to total immateriality in all respects, even riddance from contingent capacity, although in this state its knowledge is Divine knowledge and it accompanies every being and is aware of the past and the future.

    However, its rudimentary attachment to the management of the body prevents it from attaining to complete immateriality lying beyond the horizon of contingency. Hence it is seen that the relation of his soul to his body is different from its relation to the other existents and after death when the soul becomes completely detached from the body and is relieved totally from the management, of the body it will attain to complete immateriality associated with the world of lahut.

    Shaykh Wali Allah Dehlawi says in his Hama`at: “It has been brought to the knowledge of this destitute that the severance of the soul's attachment to the body takes place five hundred years after death.” And Muhy al‑Din states in several places that the wayfarer's unchanging essence ('ayn‑e thabit) will survive even after baqi' bi al‑ma`bud.

    This is not contrary to man's being the greatest of Divine Names (ism‑e a`zam) because among all existents, including even angels, it is man who is the greatest Name. However, he covers all the stages with his body and it is only the stage of attainment of complete and total immateriality‑ including even riddance from the unchanging essence and the traces of contingency‑that is obtained by him after death.

  • 20. In the noble verse

    كُلُّ شَيْءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلَّا وَجْهَهُ

    “Every thing is to perish except his face (wajhahu),” (28:88)

    whether we take the pronoun hu as referring to God or to `thing', the meaning is the same, which in the first case means that all existents perish except the Face of God, which is the same as the Divine Names with which He manifests Himself in the existents, and in the second sense it means the imperishability of the face of things which is also their aspect by which they manifest God. Also in the noble verse:

    كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ ﴿٢٦﴾ وَيَبْقَىٰ وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ ﴿٢٧﴾

    All that is upon it is perishable, and abiding is the Face of thy Lord, possessing glory and majesty. (55:26-27)

    It can be seen that glory and majesty are attributed to the `Face' not to the `Lord,' as the phrase dhu al‑jaliil wa al‑ikram is in the nominative case (raf’). Accordingly, it means that the Face of God, which are His Names and Attributes, possesses glory and majesty and is not subject to destruction or to be perished and

    wherever you turn, there is the Face of God.(2:115).