In this book, Ayatullah Muhammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi goes into the enlightening subject of self-development and acquiring spiritual perfection through the tool of self-knowledge and introspection. As the Holy Quran mentions (59:19), forgetting one's soul is a requisite for forsaking Allah (swt).
Self-making and attaining to the highest level of perfection have ever been the final objectives of every human being, knowingly or unknowingly.
Never the less, this is not an easy task, as it requires, first of all , that one should recognize oneself, improves one's faculties and abilities, and then advance towards the said objectives.
Guiding people to achieve this great objective has been the obligation undertaken by the divine prophets and Godly reformers.
This book, presented by the Islamic Propagation Organization to you, dear reader, a helping hand along the road, to guide you, extends Self-Recognition for Self-Improvement, according to the heavenly teachings of Islam, presented by one of the most celebrated scholars and theologians.
It is our dearest hope that you may get the best benefit from this valuable book.
Islamic Propagation Organization
International Relations Department
Man becomes the subject of various branches of science from different aspects: psychology, sociology, history, ethics, medicine, and even physiology and biology are branches of science which deal with man from a specific point of view. The present book aims at discussing man from the viewpoint that he is a being who can undergo perfection. We will deal with the ultimate form of perfection and the way it can be reached.
We will endeavor to recognize the way to reap more and better benefit from internal faculties and external facilities to reach perfection and true prosperity by means of reflecting in our own being, finding elements in our nature which are established to lead to and fulfill the main objectives, and recognizing inclinations existing for sublime human causes as well as relations which tie us with one another and enable us to make ourselves more powerful and prepared for progress and development by using them and striving to solidify and strengthen them. May Allah (SWT) willing, we take a stride towards the development of ourselves and others.
Thus, the subject put to discussion is man from the viewpoint that he is a being who can undergo perfection. The goal behind and use of this, is recognition of true perfection and the way to reach it. The method (of approaching it) is analysis of one's insights to retrace the desires and inclinations for perfection set in our being and elements which pave the way for us to teach it as well as investigation of conditions which can be used for this purpose.
To prove these issues, we will try to suffice with moral perceptions and simple rational reasoning and to discover the unknown by using the most lucid and definite things known and to refer- to complex rational and historical reasoning when the necessity arises.
For a being that is, by nature possessed of self-love, it is perfectly natural to engage in self-recognition and try to recognize (the elements of) his perfection and the means to reach it. As a result, understanding the necessity of self-recognition does not require complex rational or arbitrary reasons. For this reason, negligence towards this reality and absorption in matters which are by no means effective in (leading man to) perfection and prosperity is unnatural and leads to deviation.
And the reason behind this matter must be sought and means of establishing soundness and salvation from it must be recognized.
Principally, all human endeavors, be they scientific or practical, are carried out to provide the enjoyments, interests, and benefits to man. As a consequence, recognition of man himself, his beginning, his end, as well as the perfection which he might reach, is prior to any other issue. Without the recognition of man's reality and his true value, all other discussions and efforts will rather be futile and baseless.
The insistence of heavenly religions, religious leaders, and scholars of morals on self-recognition and self-awareness is entirely a guidance to this innate and rational truth. The Holy Qur'an regards forsaking the soul as the requisite for forsaking Allah (SWT) and as the punishment of this sin:
"And be not like those who forsook Allah, so He made them forsake their own souls... (59:19)."
Elsewhere it says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ ۖ لَا يَضُرُّكُمْ مَنْ ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ ۚ”
إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ“…
"... Take care of your souls: he who errs cannot hurt you when you are the right way... (5:105)."
Although divine verses pay heed to the universe and the souls, the Holy Qu'ran states:
”سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ“…
"We will soon show them our signs in the universe and in their own souls, until it will become quite clear to them that it is the truth... (41:53)."
It however, accords a special status to the verses pertaining to the soul with such an interpretation:
”وَفِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ ۚ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ“
"And in your own souls (too); will you not then see (51:21)?"
The Holy Qur'an has reproached those who do not endeavor for self-awareness and who do not see divine signs within themselves.
The Holy Prophet (SA) has also maintained an exceptional significance for self-recognition and has introduced it as the means of theism:
"Whoever recognizes himself has recognized his Lord."
In this regard, numerous traditions with various contexts have been related from the Amirul -Mu'minin (AS). Late Amadi has cited about thirty of them in Ghurarul-Hikam. Among them are the following aphorisms:
"Self-recognition is the most beneficial of all recognition."
"I am surprised at one who seeks what he has lost while he has lost himself (i.e., his identity and essence) and does not search for it."
"I wonder how a person who does not recognize himself can recognize his Lord."
"The ultimate point of Knowledge is for man to reach self-recognition."
"The greatest triumph belongs to one who reaches self-recognition."
The Imam is also related as saying:
"The more the man gains knowledge, the more he endeavors for himself and strives in the way of being educated and reformed.”1
As in this discussion certain terms are used which might be used exactly or similarly in other discussions with different meanings, we will provide the following explanations to preclude (any form of) misunderstanding:
(A) Self-recognition, as has already been pointed out, refers to recognizing the human being from the viewpoint that he possesses the gift and faculty for the attainment of human perfection. As a result, a degree of speculative knowledge which any one has with respect to himself does not make us needless of this discussion.
Likewise, here we do not intend to deal with the perfect speculative knowledge which is acquired in the midst of moral evolution and by which man openly observes his truth, because this is an outcome of self-cultivation and not a preliminary for it. This hears no relation to our discussion, just as knowing the body organs and their functions which is used in physiology, is not related to our discussion. Here we are not concerned with knowing the soul and internal forces in man as discussed in psychology, even though some definitive psychological issues might be used as the bases for discussion.
(B) Self-cultivation and, on the whole, awareness of the self, is intended to mold and give direction to vital activities and not to limit and stop them. And, in other words, the purpose behind this discussion is for us to learn how to regulate our scientific and practical endeavors and how to direct them, so that they would be effective in reaching true perfection.
Thus this discussion does not require the negation of objective realities, of the value of knowing them, or of any form of idealistic inclination which has a negative aspect just as pragmatic tendencies, which are based on the genuineness of the practical bearing on material and worldly life and which serve as the manifestations of humanism, cannot be a true indication of this discussion. We will rather see that it is contradictory to it, unless, for some of these philosophies, they make interpretations based on a sublime and vast world, something which the founders and followers of these schools do not have in mind.
(C) Introversion, introspection and self-examination here are intended to mean that by examining one's being, potential powers and inherent drives, one should get to know the true objective, the ultimate (point of) perfection, and the path towards true prosperity and progress. It does not purport that man should wink at his existential ties with others and negate facilities for progress and development provided in the light of social life and cooperation. As a result, the positive associations of these interpretations are aimed at. They should not be confused with terms such as individualism, introversion, self-conceit, egotism and the like which are used in psychology, ethics and elsewhere, and which have negative associations.
D) There are a group of other terms which have various idiomatic technical meanings and which are used in different branches of science with different meanings. It is even possible that some terms might have various meanings within one branch of science; for instance, the terms such as: wisdom, the soul intuition, sense, perception, imagination, faculty, power, instinct,...
In these cases, being tied down to a particular terminology would put both the speaker and listener in a narrow pass. For this purpose, to derive and specify the intended meaning, one must rely on verbal contexts. And those who are familiar with only a particular scientific or philosophical terminology should not restrict themselves to the framework of that very terminology so as not to misunderstand (the matters).
Although the meaning of perfection is clear and needs no definition, we are forced to provide an explanation in this regard, so that mistakes would not be made in certain instances.
Without doubt, perfection is an existential trait with which a being is endowed. But when we compare an existential matter with various things, we find that there is perfection as compared to some, while as compared to others, there is no perfection, rather it might occasionally lead to deficiency and decline of its existential value. Likewise some others principally do not have the talent to possess some forms of perfection; for instance, becoming sweet is a sign of perfection for some fruits such as pears and honeydew. On the contrary, being sour or having other flavours might be a sign of perfection for some other fruits.
Another example is that acquirement of science and knowledge is perfection for man while stones and wood are not qualified to possess it. The secret behind the matter is that each being is accorded a specific substantial limit and boundary. Going beyond this boundary would turn that being into another form which is, by essence, inconsistent with it. Substantial changes might be coupled with a change in the molecular structure, increase of decrease of their atoms, elemental or inner changes in the atoms, transmutation of matter into energy or vice versa.
At times, it is possible that while the quantity and quality of the atoms and molecules of two things is the same, their essence is different, as the artificial seed of the plant is devoid of the vegetable property, growth and development while it is exactly similar to the natural seed in terms of elements and the form of composition.
In any case, each intrinsic value, on the basis of natural expedience is compatible with some traits and will be apt to reach the same brand of perfection. But the emergence of a novel intrinsic value does not always require the obliteration of former perfections. Many beings assume various functions alongside one another and preserve their former perfections, as, in plants, atoms and minerals are exactly present and the vegetable function is positioned above all and alongside them. The same holds true for animals and human beings.
In these types of beings, former perfections might, to a degree, facilitate the emergence of a more sublime (form of) perfection. But it is not that their progress would absolutely lead to perfection of the last function and be a new form or at least make no interference with it.
Rather in many cases the attainment of a perfection appropriate to the last form requires the restriction of former perfections, just as having a great deal of foliage interferes with a tree's process of bearing sufficient fruit or being exceedingly fat prevents a hound from reaching its ideal perfection of speed in gamboling and running. As a result, the true perfection of every being consists of a trait or traits which he can possess in tune with his last function. Other matters will be preferential perfection and the preliminary of perfection to the extent that they are useful for the attainment of a being's true (form of) perfection.
When we compare a tree with gravel or a heap of sand, we realize that the tree actually possesses especial capacities not found in stone and sand. Despite the similarity in their atoms and molecules, effects are derived from the tree that cannot emerge from stone and sand.
We will express this truth in this way that there is potential perfection in the tree which is the plant feature and the origin of all activities and of produce exclusive to plants.
In like manner, plants are potentially possessed of perfections which inanimate objects are incapable of attaining, just as the sapling of a fruit-bearing tree is apt to bear loads of sweet fruit while no such capacity exists in stone and wood.
Evidently, by possessing the said function and faculty, the plant not only does not lose its physical qualities and natural powers but also uses them to promote its functions and to go through the path of its functions and the path of its development. Consequently, one can reach the conclusion that to reach perfection, a plant reaps benefit from natural powers and, of course is in need of them but to the extent that it can use them to reach perfection.
Likewise, an animal possesses vegetable qualities plus sense and voluntary movement which is a requisite of its animal state. In the same manner, it employs vegetable qualities to reach human perfection. It needs these qualities to the extent that they are beneficial for its animal development. In like manner, man possesses natural, vegetable, and animal qualities plus powers which emanate from humanity. Man employs all subordinate powers at the service of his human development. For this purpose, he needs them all to the extent that they are effective in reaching his human perfections. But as excessive foliage is not at all advantageous to the apple tree, one cannot regard the unconditional use of vegetable and animal powers useful for man.
The following conclusions can be drawn from this discussion:
(A) Corporal beings can be classified on the basis of existential perfections. Among beings with which we are familiar, inanimate objects occupy a lower position while animals are in the middle and human beings occupy the sublime position. Obviously, in this classification, the type and value of the perfection, and not its volume and amount, is taken into account.
Therefore, it should not be said that if man is more perfect than other animals, why can't he eat as much as a cow, run as fast as a deer, and devour like a lion?! Just as in the case of the superiority of plants over inanimate objects, it is not said that if a tree is superior to stone and sand, then why is not it as weighty as the Himalaya Mountains and why cannot mines of gold or oil wells be found in it?!
(B) Each corporal being which possesses a more sublime degree of existence has inferior powers to be employed in the way of its development.
(C) Employment of the inferior powers should be to such an extent that is useful for the attainment of more sublime perfections, else it will lead to stagnation and termination of the trend of development. And it will occasionally lead to decline and deterioration.
(D) With respect to the previous discussion, it can be concluded that the true perfection of every being consists of that which its last function demands, although this perfection has various degrees as bearing apples is perfection for the apple tree but it has various degrees. But other perfections which are substantially different from this one and which are naturally in a lower state are not actually regarded as the perfection of this being and are only deemed as a preliminary and a device.
Thus perfection can be divided into genuine and organic or actual and relative. Degrees can also be specified for genuine perfections.
E) To determine the extent of exploitation of inferior powers, it is necessary to take in mind the actual and genuine perfection. In other words, the inferior existential traits can be recognized even as an organic and preliminary perfection for something, in case they serve as rudimentary for an elevated and actual form of perfection. Here, once again, emphasis is laid on the necessity of recognizing man's actual perfection.
Perfection and the perfectibility movement of a being consists of gradual changes coming over it as a result of which its potential power to obtain an existential feature (perfection) is made active. These changes occur by way of powers deposited in the nature of the perfectible being and by the use of external conditions and facilities.
For example, when grain is planted and when water, wind, warmth, light and other required conditions are provided, it is split and then it develops stem and leaves. Then it becomes a cluster and finally about seven hundred seeds are produced from it. The changes which occur in the grain from the very first to the emergence of seven hundred perfect seeds are termed as the perfectibility process. The powers, which exist in the said grain and by which the required material are absorbed and the harmful material are discharged and through which the absorbed material are turned into similar seeds by action and reaction, are called the causes of development. Water, wind, light and other external factors are called "the conditions of development."
Evidently, recognition of the amount of development and, in other words of the extent of the zone of existence and sphere of perfection of a being, as well as the causes and conditions of development, is usually possible by way of experience, even though the possibility of reaching recognition through other means cannot be negated.
Certain questions arise at this point: Do all beings undergo change and transformation or are there beings among those that we know or those that possibly exist without our awareness which are essentially unchangeable and which undergo no change and transformation at all? Is any change in the substance, in the appearance, in the attributes, in the proportions and in the additions an actual and real change? Or is it that change in proportions cannot be classed as an actual change? Would any actual change lead to the development of a perfectible trait or is it possible that the outcome of a movement be the loss of a group of existential traits? These are all relevant questions but as our discussion does not revolve around their answers now, we will abstain from answering them.
In the case of the vegetable seed, the changes which result in the division of a seed into several seeds are not due to scientific understanding and finding. The same holds true for changes which occur in an egg until it leads to the hatching of the egg. The difference is that the perfectibility process undergone by the chicken to become a developed hen hinges on perceptions without which the chicken cannot reach its befitting perfection.
If supposedly, the chicken could not sense hunger, thirst, warmth and coldness, and if it could not differentiate grain and water from stone and wood and if cold water and fire were the same for it, then it would not undergo any growth and development.
Rather it would, by no means be able to carry on living. Thus we get to the conclusion that perfectibility processes can be divided into two main types: perceptual and natural or scientific and non-scientific.
The perception required for a group of perfectibility movements is at times naturally and inherently present, even though the creature (possessing it) is not fully aware of it, such as the instinctive perceptions of animals. At times, this is acquired gradually and by way of learning. Naturally, the creature is fully aware of it, such as sciences learned by man.
At this point, some questions arise which must be answered elsewhere: Are plants devoid of all forms of perception or is it possible that some type of perception exists in a group of them? Are all animal perceptions instinctive or do some of them reap benefit from acquired perceptions? Supposing that animals possess acquired perception, does it have any inherent difference with man's acquired perceptions or not?
At times, the development movement occurs spontaneously and involuntarily as soon as the required conditions are met for the being possessed of sufficient capacity for a particular form of development. In certain instances, it depends on the implementation of will and authority, as we explicitly realize our optional activities and clearly differentiate them from natural and involuntary acts.
Obviously in the voluntary processes, the rate of progress and development depends on the will and choice of the mobile creature. In other words, inability to reach the desired perfection is not due to the deficiency of innate faculties or to the presence of unfavorable external conditions and possibilities. It rather depends on the will and choice of the being as well.
As choice and selection is not possible without knowledge and awareness, good choice hinges on sound knowledge and recognition. The vaster the range of knowledge and the greater the possibility of acquiring positive learning, the greater the possibility of soundly using them for voluntary developments will be, as voluntary acts will be more freely carried out with a vaster range of action and a variety of external conditions.
This provides a solid reason for the necessity of recognizing the objective as well as recognizing the correct path (of reaching it) because, as already pointed out, choice hinges on knowledge and awareness and man's development - or at least, part of it - is voluntary. Of course, if Allah (SWT) willing we will discuss the emergence of will power and elements conducive to it.
Another question comes up here: apart from man, are there any other beings possessing free choice? And supposing that there are such beings, is there a more perfect being than man among them or not?
But it is clear that a positive or negative response to such questions bears no impact on the discussion underway.
It is obvious that man's actual perfection, i.e. moral perception and intuitive knowledge, is possible only for those who have reached it. But as the attainment of voluntary perfections depends on knowledge and awareness, it is necessary that these perfections be somehow recognized beforehand, so that they would become favourable and voluntary, and be obtained by choice and will-power. If the means of recognizing them was exclusive to findings, their acquirement would never be possible.
Thus, the recognition needed beforehand is not of the intuitive type. It is rather the same subjective recognition and is termed as ‘acquired knowledge’ which is obtained through reasoning and deduction from rational premises or inference from indisputable historical principles. Basically, this discussion is for researchers who intend to recognize perfection and to find a way to reach it. One who has reached true perfection is no longer in need of such discussions.
Therefore, expecting to recognize the truth of human perfection prior to reaching it in the same way that we recognize our own moral perceptions is totally out of place. We have no choice other than finding a subjective, and not an intuitive knowledge towards it by way of reasoning and realizing its specifications by the aid of reason and tradition.
Of course, we will try to select the preliminaries of reasoning from the simplest and clearest positive and moral teachings, so that both the conclusion would be clearer and more assuring; and the benefit would be more general. But, in the meantime, we will also refer to some traditional reasonings or to more complex rational proofs well.
One might possibly reflect that in the same manner that the perfection of a tree or an animal can be recognized through experience and experimentation, in the case of man too, the issue can be solved with the help of scientific experimentation.
That is to say, can a large number of people be subjected to experimentation at various times and in different places so as to see what perfection they reach and what their ultimate limit is? And with this very means, one can retrace the criteria of development and the way of reaching ultimate perfection.
But a little deliberation indicates that the issue on man is not so simple because primarily all kinds of vegetations and animals are inferior to man in terms of existential perfections. For this reason, all human beings could recognize and investigate their perfections, but those human beings who have not attained true perfections could not basically understand the origin of these perfections and the ones who possess them. In this respect, they resemble children who want to test a perfection exclusive to mature people. Rather only experts who have, at least realized the primary degrees of man's true perfection can have a share in this investigation.
Secondly, the perfection of every type of vegetation and animal has a specific and limited boundary which can be easily learned and recognized. Over the centuries, no difference in terms of type of perfection and its ultimate limit has been seen among the members of one species. In this way, by examining a number of them, one can become confident that their typical perfection is that which has been recognized so far; for instance, the perfection of an apple tree is to bear a fruit with a specific flavour, colour, fragrance and size. Or the perfection of the honeybee is to live according to a particular system and to produce a sweet and fragrant fluid called honey.
Of course, it is possible that apple and honey possess properties and advantages which man has not realized as yet. But whatever these advantages are, they belong to the apple and the honey which this tree and animal have (respectively) produced all through the centuries. But when we glance at man - this strange and mysterious being - we find that despite his relatively small size and his similarity with other animals in many material ways, he has features which make him completely distinguished and distinct. It is man whose existential secrets are diurnally unveiled and who divulges a new facet of his skills. It is man who has not stopped moving and changing for a minute since creation.
Each day man makes more apparent the various manifestations of his teachings and industries all over the world. Still these salient and astonishing developments are all the material fruit of this wonderful tree; yet the recognition of its moral fruit is not so easily possible. It might be that man's spiritual and moral wonders are greater than his material ones as those who tread the world of spirit express matters which cannot be understood by others and perform acts which cannot be justified and rationalized with material laws and which can in no way be denied. With all this in view, can one say that recognition of man's existential limits is thoroughly practicable in the same way that the perfection of vegetations and animals is realized?
Thirdly, only sense perceptions can be directly put to examination while spiritual perfections and moral virtues cannot be directly experimented and weighed. Even if the signs of many of them can, to some extent be experimented, indeed the recognition of the spiritual source from which these signs originate and the evaluation of its perfection cannot be experimented.
With respect to the afore cited points, it is not strange that philosophers and scientists are in disagreement over the recognition of man's actual perfection.
With regard to differences which philosophers and thinkers have in their world views, it is natural that they should express different views about man. But analysis of all these views and of their relationship with various isms renders no significant benefit. For this reason, we will suffice with only mentioning a few basic views.
(1) Man's perfection is obtained by ever more enjoyment of material pleasures. To reach them, one must employ learning and technology to reap benefit from natural resources and riches, so that a more peaceful and enjoyable life would be procured. This view is based on materialism, Epicureanism and individualism.
(2) Man's perfection rests on the collective enjoyment of natural blessings. And to reach it, effort must be made for the welfare of all classes of society. The difference between this view and the former one is that this view is based on socialism.
(3) Man's perfection is in spiritual and moral progress which can be attained through mortification of the flesh and struggle against material pleasures. This view is the exact opposite of the preceding ones.
(4) Man's perfection is in intellectual progress which is obtained by way of learning and philosophy.
(5) Man's perfection is in intellectual and moral development which is attained through learning the sciences and acquiring virtuous habits. The last two views, like the third one, are inconsistent with materialism with this difference that in the third view, man's body is considered an enemy which must be fought and by victory over which (one can) reach human perfection. In the last two views, however, the body is deemed a device which must be employed to reach perfection. The difference between the fourth view and the fifth one is obvious but at times, the fifth view is regarded as the interpretation of the fourth view.
Evidently, each of the aforementioned views, as well as other views not put forward here, are based on particular philosophical principles which must be considered beforehand, pursuit of them requires a series of profound philosophical discussions which are not in tune with the trend of this discussion. As we noted in the introduction, the method of discussion here is to use the clearest moral and positive learning and to abstain from complex reasonings which necessitate a great deal of preliminary arguments. In this way, the discussion will be more advantageous, that is to say, people who are not too familiar with philosophical issues and traditional reasoning, can reap benefit from it.
Moreover, in the twists and turns of reasonings in which naturally, inclinations to a particular philosophical movement and a specific principle are found, we would not face the reaction of the proponents of other philosophical movements and the bias of the opponents. Furthermore, so long as there is the possibility of (going on) a short cut and a direct path, there is no use in treading crooked and inconvenient paths.
For this reason, we will try not to conduct the reasoning for the recognition of man's true perfection on specific philosophical bases which are accepted by only some movements or on specific verbal views which are acceptable for only a particular group. We will rather start the discussion from the simplest and clearest of our own learnings with regard to man. It is evident that the requisite of starting off from such preliminaries is not that in the course of reasoning and deduction no confrontation with some philosophical views would occur and that the conclusion drawn from the discussion would be accepted by all movements and religions. Such an expectation is principally like expecting the agreement of contradictory things which is necessarily impossible.
Man possesses numerous instincts, feelings, sentiments, desires, motives, spiritual qualities, psychological activities and reactions which have been, more or less, discussed by philosophers, psychologists and psychoanalysts. Different views have been expressed about the recognition of the truth, the classification and distinction of what is genuine from what is not genuine, the quality of development and growth, and the relation of these with bodily organs especially with the nervous system, the brain and the glands. Recounting and interpreting these ideas are not compatible with the nature of this discussion.
Here we will consider some of the most genuine innate desires which come to our mind without confirming or rejecting a particular philosophical, psychological or psychoanalytical movement. We will endeavor to survey their manifold manifestations and the trend of their development, as well as the efforts of man to satisfy them in various conditions and facets of his life, that we may thus seek a way to recognize man's true perfection and ultimate goal; this is because innate desires are the most genuine powers gifted by the creator in man's being, so that he would engage in movement, action, effort, endeavor as they require and would tread his path towards perfection and prosperity by using inborn and acquired powers, as well as external facilities.
Thus the direction or directions specified by these desires could lead us to the ultimate goal and path as the needle of a compass would provide us with the direction. As a consequence, it is apt to study and consider them meticulously and patiently and, by abstaining from hasty prejudgments and judgments, to derive a sound and decisive result from our reflections so that we would take hold of the key to the treasure of prosperity.
Man bears an innate desire to know, become aware of, and encompass the realities of existence. This desire emerges in the early stages of childhood and is not taken away from man to the end of his life. The continuous questions posed by children are indicative of the presence of this inborn desire. The more talented will be a child, the vaster and more profound his questions will be. The more knowledge and learning he acquires, the greater unknown matters he will face and new issues will come up for him.
So the direction of sense perceptions, which are devices for the fulfillment of this innate desire, is towards a complete and all-embracing awareness of the world of existence. The sphere of this desire is so vast that no being falls outside it. Now we will study the scientific progress of man from the starting point. We will follow it up step - by - step to see where it will end.
Man's awareness of the world starts with the external senses and the contact of body organs with objects around him. By specific actions and reactions, each sense organ transfers first to the nerves and then to the brain impressions of light, sound, warmth, smell, taste and the like. In this manner, man becomes aware of such qualities and features which are related to material objects on the surface and which are located at a particular radius around him.
But for several reasons, sense perception is inexpressive and insufficient to satiate man's curiosity and instinct to seek the truth because firstly, it applies to particular qualities of the surface and form of palpable objects and not to all their qualities, their essence, their substance and not to impalpable objects. Secondly, the range of sense perception is limited and dependent on particular conditions. For example, the eye can see the rays whose wave length is no less than 4 % micron and no more than 8% micron. For this reason, ultra - violet and infra-red rays are invisible.
Likewise, the ear can hear sounds whose frequencies are between 30 to 16000 vibrations per second. In like manner, other sense perceptions also require specific conditions. Secondly, their duration in time is very short. For instance, the eyes and the ear can hold the effect of light and sound for only a second. And when sense organs lose contact with the outside world our perception is barred. The issue of slips of perception is another story which further clarifies the inadequacy of sense perceptions.
However, the means of awareness and recognition is not confined to sense perceptions alone. For example, man possesses another faculty which, after the body's contact with the material world is cut off, can preserve in a special form the signs it has received and can remember them when needed and can reflect them in the consciousness. Similarly, there is another faculty which can understand general meanings, which can prepare the mind for confirmations and propositions, and which can make possible the reflections and mental deductions, be they empirical or theoretical.
Through these internal faculties, man can expand the zone of his awareness and draw conclusions from innate and palpable experiences and perceptions. Development of philosophy, sciences and industries is indebted to these inward and mental faculties, with this difference that what is in mind in other sciences (apart from philosophy) is the recognition of features and effects of creatures so as to exploit them for better living. But the main objective in philosophy is to recognize the intrinsic qualities, as well as the cause and effect relation of objects. Complete recognition of a being is not feasible without recognizing its existential causes:
‘Ash-Shaykhur-Ra'is has expressed this rule in detail in his Kitabush-Shifa. As the chain of reason leads to the Almighty Allah (SWT), it can be concluded that man's rational movement leads to piety.
Many philosophers believe that man's scientific development ends at this point. For this reason, they regard man's perfection - or to put it more precisely, man's scientific perfection - limited to the mind's all-embracing awareness of the world of being. But further consideration of innate desires indicates than man's instinct to seek the truth is not fully satisfied with this degree of awareness and demands an objective awareness, as well as a speculative and intuitive understanding of the realities of existence. And such an understanding could not be reached with mental concepts and philosophical discussion.
No matter how extensive and clear the mental perceptions and concepts are, they cannot show us the objective realities. The difference between these and external realities can be compared to the difference between the meaning of hunger and its inward reality. Our conception of hunger is a state coming over man when his body is in need of food. But if a person has never experienced this state, he cannot understand it through this definition. In like manner, for (showing) the realities of being, ranging from Allah (SWT) to matter, philosophy can provide us only with such concepts while the recognition and realization of objective realities is far different from such definitions.
What thoroughly quenches our thirst for seeking the truth is the speculative knowledge and intuitive awareness of objective realities which is inseparable from understanding their existential appraisals and connections. And if all existing beings are viewed as dependent on and connected to the Almighty Allah (SWT), then in fact, all objective knowledge goes back to awareness of one independent and genuine reality, as well as His reflections, manifestations and signs.
Among man's innate desires, mention can be made of the desire to wield power, to be capable of performing deeds and to have control over other beings. This desire also emerges in childhood and endures to the end of a person's life. Of course, this desire has degrees depending on age differences, period of life and external factors. A healthy infant's motions and movements of hands and feet and the untiring gamboling of children are indications of this innate desire. By and by, range of man's quest for power increases, extending to infinity.
At first, performing various deeds, establishing power and extending strength, occur by means of stimulating nerves and by muscles with the aid of natural powers alone. These constant movements made by the child on instinct help increase his physical power, by and by, his muscles become stronger and more ready to perform greater and more laborious functions.
This goes on until he reaches the peak of youth and the climax of physical power. From then on, he faces the period of stagnation and inertia. Then comes the period of senility and old age, gradually the physical powers are exhausted but the zest for power never dies down in man.
To extend the domain of his power, man does not suffice with natural powers. By the help of sciences and industries, man endeavours to find better devices to conquer the world and subjugate the universe. It goes without saying that scientific discoveries and inventions, especially in recent times, have greatly contributed to the satisfaction of this inborn desire and will later do so as well.
Man does not even refrain from using the power of his fellow creatures. In far as conditions and facilities permit, man uses others for his own benefit. Effort to reach social positions and to be honoured nationally, as well as the nation’s demand for superiority at the international level, are manifestations of this desire which at times, appear in a correct and sound form, while at other times, it appears in the form of aggression on the rights of others in various shapes of oppressive colonization and exploitation.
The quest for increased power does not stop at this level. Rather it even embraces imperceptible and metaphysical powers as well.
Various branches of exotic sciences, spiritism, and different forms of sensual mathematics are all indicative of man's wondrous efforts to develop his abilities.
But supposing that man masters the perceptible and imperceptible forces, does his ability reach utter perfection then and is his thirst for power quenched in full? No matter how extensive and variegated these powers are, will they not finally be finite? Will they not intrude on the workings of similar powers? And will they not be doomed by more superior powers? With these limitations, how can they fulfill man's boundless demands?
It is crystal clear that this inborn desire cannot be fulfilled except by taking hold of an infinite source of power. Efforts made by people of high aspirations would not end without it.
Man possesses another inborn desire which is not of the same form as the demand to know, to have ability, or to be aware of and to conquer the world. The desire to attract, to be attracted and to unite is related to existence and understanding. As this desire has not become clear for the psychologists and psychoanalysts, and a sufficient discussion and research has not been made with regard to it, it is difficult to clarify and explain it.
Deep inside, each person finds that he likes something and someone as though the latter constantly draws his spirit toward itself/himself like a powerful magnet. This attraction and drive has various degrees and signs. Differences of degrees are so much that they create doubts in their substantial unity.
The most salient manifestation of innate affection can be raced in a mother. Its sign is that a mother enjoys embracing, caressing, and taking care of her child. Motherly affection is one of the most glorious manifestations of innate love. Its manifestations have always been described and praised by poets and writers. The same holds true for father's love towards his child.
A similar form of affection exists among children, parents, sisters, brothers and other family members who are tied together with a specific natural bond. Another manifestation of this can be viewed among fellow creatures that are linked by the general relationship of human beings. This affection is increased in intensity in other forms of human relationship, such as being fellow city people, being neighbours, being of the same age, being man and wife, being of the same religion and of the same ideology, etc are added to it.
Another expression of affection is in man's attachment to objects which he uses in his material life and to which he is linked by the way they can fulfill his living requirements. Examples are attachment to property, wealth, clothes and place of residence.
Another demonstration of man's affection appears in man's love for beauties, exquisite objects and especially beautiful human beings. That is to say, it is man's love for objects which satisfy his aesthetic sense and which establish contact with his psyche.
Similar to this is love for spiritual beauties, such as the beauty of concepts, comparisons, metaphors, and ironies, as well as love for cadences in verse and prose which is the passion of poets and of those with good taste. Or it can be spiritual and ethical perfection and elegance which is lauded by psychologists and moralists. Or it can be beauty of sensibility like the elegance in the order of the world of being which the philosophers marvel at. Or it can be existential beauty which is perceived by gnostic intuition. On the basis of this perception, existence equals beauty:
“الَّذِي أَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُۖ”
"Who made good everything that He has created...(32:7)."
The more powerful the status of being, the greater will its beauty be and the more enjoyable will be its seeing.
In other words, to the extent of his capacity, each being will show a reflection of Divine Light. The more perfect he is, the greater manifestations of it he will reflect.
On the whole, three degrees could be designated for affection in terms of intensity and weakness:
First - The weak status which requires proximity to the beloved in normal conditions. But there is no sacrifice and selflessness in it.
Second - The average status which, in addition to the desire for proximity, requires sacrifice in the way of the beloved but to the extent that it does not interrupt general interests and basic personal interests.
Third - The status of captivation and selflessness when the lover refrains from no sacrifice in the way of the beloved. The lover regards the peak of enjoyment in following the will of the beloved’s traits and deportment or rather in existential attachment or better say, in subjecting himself to perdition for the sake of the beloved. Its sign is taking pleasure in expressing humility and homage to the beloved. Another sign of it is that he unconditionally attaches superiority to the will of the beloved as compared to that of other beings and other objects.
Without doubt, the greater the love for something, the greater will be the enjoyment experienced in reaching it. But on the other hand, intensity of enjoyment hinges on the degree of desirability and the existential value of the beloved. Thus if a person develops the strongest form of affection towards the most precious of all beings and realizes that being's existential merit, he will experience the greatest enjoyment when he is united with that beloved. In case, this act of being united is not confined to time, place and other limiting conditions and in case it is possible at any time and anywhere, this inborn desire is fully materialized and it will suffer no shortage.
As a result, the infinite direction of this inborn desire is in a burning love for an infinitely beautiful and perfect beloved who has the strongest existential ties with man and whom man can find himself living and dying for, and linked and related to. In this manner, he will reach true union and no factor can separate him from his beloved.
Love for a being that does not possess these conditions cannot fully satisfy this desire and will always be coupled with disappointment, defeat, separation, disunion, etc.
With a little consideration in his own being, each person can very clearly realize that he is by nature in search of pleasure, happiness and comfort, and that he escapes from pain and agony. The indefatigable efforts and endeavours in life are for the purpose of enjoying more powerful and more enduring pleasures and of escaping from or at least, diminishing the pains, agonies and illnesses. When these coincide, they are compared; that is to say, slight pain and hardship is endured for being released from greater pain and affliction, and a slight and limited pleasure is sacrificed for a greater and more enduring enjoyment.
Likewise, enduring slight pain to reach a great and lasting pleasure and dispensing with a slight pleasure to be relieved of great pain are the requirements of man's reason and nature. All rational functions are performed on the basis of these calculations. Differences seen in people with regard to preferring certain pleasures and pains are due to differences in discernment, mistakes in calculation and other factors which will be discussed later.
Therefore from one angle, pleasure is the motive behind activity and effort in life, and from another angle it is the outcome and result of this effort. From a final viewpoint, it can be regarded as perfection for sensible beings because it is an existential trait which human beings are apt to possess.
An act which provides pleasure and draws pain away is desired and wanted by man. Man likes and is fond of anything which is pleasurable to reach. Likewise, the term affection is used in the case of desirable deeds and traits. And this clears up the relationship among pleasure, determination and affection.
But it must be borne in mind that, at times, man aspires for a specific pleasure reaching which requires a great deal of preparations. As a result, he decides to carry out deeds, each of which might be a preparation itself. In fact, the determination to carry out each of the deeds is a reflection of the genuine will accorded to performing the main deed.
In the same way, genuine affection is given to a being that is genuinely desired by man. In the light of this, minor affections are developed towards its preparations and attachments, reaching each of which brings about a minor pleasure and conforms to its relationship with the genuine object of desire and pleasure.
In earlier discussions, we arrived at the conclusion that man's true perfection is the ultimate existential degree and the most sublime perfection which man is able to reach. All other perfections are like preliminaries and are organic or relative. Their being preliminary perfections hinges on their effect in making man reach his true perfection, even though the latter might be of various degrees.
As a consequence, true perfection is man's genuine desire and the desirability of other objects is minor and depends on their involvement in reaching true perfection. Likewise, the pleasure desired by man is one derived from reaching true perfection. Other pleasures are like preliminary steps, because, as already pointed out, genuine pleasure is derived from fulfilling a genuine desire.
Consequently, recognition of true perfection depends on recognition of genuine pleasure. Conversely, recognition of genuine pleasure hinges on recognition of true perfection. As genuine pleasure provides the greatest pleasure possible, recognition of genuine pleasure is accompanied by recognition of something which can provide man with the greatest, the most sublime, and the most enduring of all pleasures. For this reason, if we get to know the most pleasurable beings, we will also recognize the genuine pleasure and true perfection.
Thus it is befitting to ponder over the reality of pleasure and the reason behind differences in its degrees, so that we could recognize the most sublime and the most enduring pleasures of man.
What we experience within us and interpret as pleasure is a conceptual state overcoming us when we reach a desired objective, provided that we consider that objective as desirable and that we be aware of it and pay heed (to it) upon reaching it. Thus if we do not regard something desirable, reaching it will bring about no pleasure for us. Likewise, if we pay no heed to reaching something, we will derive no enjoyment from it.
As a consequence, in addition to the presence of one who takes pleasure (in something) and the object of desire, taking pleasure depends on having a specific perceptual power with which reaching the desired objective could be perceived. In the same way, it hinges on recognition of desirability and paying attention to reaching it. Various degrees of pleasure depend on the intensity and weakness of perception, as well as desirability or attention paid by man.
That is to say, a person's enjoyment of eating delicious food might be more than someone else's, as he might have a stronger and healthier taste. Or a person might derive more enjoyment from eating a particular type of food, as it might be more pleasurable for him. Or a particular person might derive more enjoyment from a special dish when he fully concentrates on the food rather than on other objectives. In like manner, two students might derive different types of enjoyment from learning a specific branch of science due to their different views on the desirability, utility and practicality of it.
It is also clear that the stability of the pleasure depends on the endurance of conditions which lead to its emergence. The supposed pleasure is cut off when the one taking pleasure or the object of pleasure is destroyed or when it is no longer desirable or when the person changes his mind or ceases paying attention to it.
The multiplicity seen among the person taking pleasure, the objective of pleasure and the conditions leading to the emergence of pleasure has general applicability in the case of ordinary pleasures. The essence of pleasure however, can be traced in other cases where no such multiplicity exists. In these cases, the word pleasure could be used with a kind of conceptual interpretation as is the case with regard to science and affection.
For example, to gain knowledge, the presence of the scholar, the object of learning and the trait of having knowledge is required, but its interpretive meaning also applies to the soul's speculative knowledge of itself or Almighty Allah's knowledge of Himself, even though in these cases, there is no multiplicity among knowledge, the scholar, and the object of learning likewise, the common meaning of affection requires the presence of the lover, the beloved, and the state of love but no such external plurality exists in the case of self-love.
As a consequence, instances of pleasure can be found which do not require the said multiplicity. For example, in the case of Almighty Allah, it could be said that enjoyment emanates from Him, even though in this case, the Bihjat interpretation is more befitting as some scholars have remarked. In the same manner, with regard to man, it could be said that he takes pleasure from his own being.
As his own being is dearer than anything else for him, the pleasure he derives from himself will be more than what he experiences in the case of other pleasures due to its desirability. In other words, all other pleasures serve as a reflection of his self-enjoyment because they have emerged in the process of reaching a phase and perfection in his being.
Failure to derive pleasure in normal conditions is due to inattention. Whenever man can pay full attention to himself and ignore aught else by the help of external factors such as great dangers, exercise and concentration, he will derive exceptional pleasure. For example, if a person is sentenced to death and considers the verdict binding, he will derive an unparalleled enjoyment when he later realizes that the verdict has been annulled.
Of course, in this example, pleasure is related to being brought back to worldly life after being disappointed at it. Yet it is a good example for our discussion, as it elucidates man's love for life and his enjoyment of himself.
The outcome of discussion is that the pleasure experienced by man is either derived from his own being or his own perfection or from other beings which he is in need of and is somehow related to. Thus, he will reach the most sublime status of pleasure if he can see himself tied to one who embraces all connections and links, and who makes man needless of any other dependence. If he finds his own being linked to Him and sees no independence for himself, he will take the pleasure of independence from Him.
As a consequence, man's true object of desire from whom he derives the greatest pleasure is one to whom he is inextricably linked. Genuine pleasure is derived from seeing his own relationship with Him or from seeing Him while he himself is linked to him or in fact, from viewing a reflection of His grandeur and elegance.
The conclusion derived from earlier discussions is that man's innate desires extend to infinity. There is no limit or boundary to any of these desires they do not require restriction or halt at a particular level. On the contrary, they all lead man to the ultimate (point). Having boundless desires is verily one of the characteristics of man. Temporary and limited success does not content man. Even the non-religious philosophers do not deny man's innate desires. Rather this is regarded as one of the most important principal differences of man and animals.
Russel notes (as below):
"One of the most important principal differences of man and animals is that human desires, as opposed to those of animals, are boundless and cannot be fully materialized.1."
Although these wishes are variegated, they are all finally brought together and their ultimate satisfaction is summed up in one thing: relationship with the Infinite source of Knowledge, power, beauty and perfection. It is the feature of the states of being that the more severe, powerful and perfect they become, the more they incline towards unity and extension. Human faculties which are dispersed when belonging to the body are united when attached to the soul. While possessed of unity and extension, the soul embraces all human powers:
In like manner, the extreme point of each of the innate desires which extends to infinity and which is then united with other desires is, in fact, one ultimate desire perceived from various viewpoints and angles. And that is dependence on a perfect Infinite Being, that is to say, proximity to the Almighty Allah.
In such a state, man realizes his complete relationship with the creator. He sees himself dependent on and linked to Him or rather (he sees himself as) the incarnation of dependence on and relationship with Him. Before His presence, man observes no independence for himself. In this state, he sees all objects dependent on the holy divine Being and acquires speculative knowledge of the realities of existence. On the basis of his own existential involvement, he reaps benefit from rays of divine grandeur and beauty. Then man's innate desire to recognize the realities of existence is materialized.
Likewise, in this state, man finds a way to the source of infinite power. By being related to this source, man obtains the power to perform whatever he wills and wishes. Thus, his innate desire to seek power is satiated.
Similarly, in this state, man can reach the greatest degree of love for the most eminent of the beloved. And he can establish ultimate proximity, closeness, union and true relationship with Him. In other words, he can see his proximity and relationship very clearly and can consequently reach the best and most permanent pleasures:
“فِي مَقْعَدِ صِدْقٍ عِنْدَ مَلِيكٍ مُقْتَدِرٍ”
"In the seat of honour with a most powerful king (54:55)."
As a consequence, innate human desires which spring from humanity and which are the requisites of this present state and of his type lead man to infinity. Their full satisfaction is not feasible without establishing proximity to Allah (SWT) and being linked to eternal world.
Thus man's true perfection is (to reach) the state of proximity Allah (SWT). Other physical and spiritual perfections are only a means to reach this end. And these means should be used on the basis of criteria already set forth, that is to say, to the extent of their impact on reaching true perfection. None of them - not even the most sublime and delicate one of them - could be regarded as genuine human perfection, even if they are the distinctive features of man and are not found in other animals.
To put it in other terms, man will truly and actually become a human being and go beyond the animal state when he takes strides towards the proximity to Allah (SWT). Prior to stepping in this path, he is either a potential human being while he still has the gift to reach this state or he has totally fallen and has been ranked as animals or below animals, while he has lost this gift by misuse of his will-power.
It is for this reason that the Holy Qur'an regards the kafirun (disbelievers) who have lost the gift of faith and piety as the worst beings and elsewhere regards them as being more misled than the quadruped.
In Suratul Anfal, He says:
“إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ”
"Surely the vilest of animals in Allah's sight are those who disbelieve, then they would not believe (8:55)."
In another verse, He says:
“وَلَوْ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا لَأَسْمَعَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ أَسْمَعَهُمْ لَتَوَلَّوْا وَهُمْ مُعْرِضُونَ”
“Surely the vilest of animals, in Allah’s sight, are the deaf, the dumb, who do not understand (8:22).”
In chapter Araf, He says:
“أُولَٰئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ…..”
"... They are as cattle, nay, they are in worse errors; these are the heedless ones (7:179)."
At this point, the doubt might arise that even though innate desires incline towards infinity, can they be satisfied fully, especially with regard to the fact that man is a weak and infirm creature with limited natural and acquired powers which are finite in terms of time and which cease with the approach of death no matter how extensive these powers are?
To remove this doubt in terms suited to the style of this discussion, (it can be said) that (man's) nature in itself is proof for their feasibility, because innate desires are among objective realities and the laws and principles of being. They resemble attractions which are proof of the attractive force. They are not like mental pictures which are developed through the senses and the mental powers. Their relation to objective realities is like the relation of the discoverer to the discovered, so that there would be the possibility of their being contrary to the truth.
But limitation of human powers and their cessation with death is based on materialism and on restriction of life to the material world, both of which are in contradiction to (man's) nature. Man's innate desire for metaphysical perfections and for life in the Hereafter renders the afore-cited point null and void and amply proves the metaphysics and life in the Hereafter.
Of course, (man's) nature is not the sole proof for this matter. Numerous logical and historical proofs can be cited for them. We will make reference to just one of them.
Deliberation on the system of creation indicates that, ranging from the smallest atoms to the greatest galaxy, everything follows a wonderful and astonishing order. The permanence of the world and the evolvement of its numerous phenomena are indebted to this firm, measured and calculated order. The more the sciences are promoted, the better they can unveil the grandeur of this order and the subtlety of its mysteries and philosophies.
The wonderful human inventions and industries have taken place in the light of discovering these mysteries and the relationship among the creatures. As a result of this, one cannot regard the development of a phenomenon in the world as unaccounted for and superfluous and (one cannot) deem it void and useless, because its evolvement is an outcome of this system. It is in itself a part of this system; an element in the grand system of creation, and it is effective in the system's movement towards the objective and the ultimate end.
Principally a void and useless being will, willingly or unwillingly, bring about disorder and corruption. Thus the presence of innate desires in man will not be void and useless. Rather it is an important factor for man's progress, development and attainment of prosperity and happiness. If man's happiness and perfection was exclusive to material prosperity and was limited, the presence of boundless wishes would have been null and void.
Placing these desires in man's being without the possibility of their satisfaction is like showing someone a path and feigning that it is very long and far off such that the person musters all his courage to tread the path and moves towards the imaginary destination at full speed. While moving with full speed, his head would suddenly collide with a stone and he would realize that the path was nothing but a blind alley. It goes without saying that this act of deception is not befitting Allah, the Wise. It is only done by the foolish ones who enjoy deceiving the people and who take pleasure in the suffering and failure of the people because of their own psychological complexes and who finally laugh in a languishing manner at the disappointment of those deceived.
The Holy Qur'an says:
“….. أَوَلَمْ يَتَفَكَّرُوا فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ ۗ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ”
"Do they not reflect within themselves: Allah did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them two but with truth….(30:8).”
“…. وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَٰذَا بَاطِلًا سُبْحَانَكَ.…”
“… And reflect on the creation of heavens and the earth: Our Lord! You have not created this in vain! Glory be to you …..(3:191).”
“وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاءَ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَاعِبِينَ”
“And we did not create the heaven and the earth and what is between them for sport (21:16).”
“أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ”
“What! Did you then think that we had created you in vain and that you shall not be returned to us? (23:115).”
On the basis of the conclusion derived from earlier discussions full satisfaction of man's innate demands is possible only in the light of complete and conscious relationship with the source of being. The possibility of such a relationship can be proven by philosophical reasoning. And that is: all creatures are inseparably linked with their lord and the essence of their beings is relationship with and dependence on Him. As man can have conscious speculative knowledge about his essence and as his essence is nothing but relationship with the lord, he can establish a fully conscious relationship with Him. Or in other words, he can recognize and objectively see his own complete existential relationship with Him.
Divine philosophers unanimously accept the speculative knowledge of the soul. Whenever man dispenses with concern for sense perceptions and sensual desires and whenever he focuses attention on his own being, he will realize this through speculative knowledge. This knowledge is traced in other conditions as well, even if ample attention could not be paid to it due to being occupied with other perceptions. One can strengthen this (knowledge) by way of diminishing material attachments, practicing self-examination and focusing attention on oneself, and can elevate it to a state of clarity and awareness.
Existential relationship with and dependence on the Lord can be proven by (using) the principles of sublime wisdom as explained by the late Sadrul-Mutaallihin, in this manner that existence has linear degrees. The descending degrees, with radial order range from sublime degree, its effect and what is linked to it.
True causality refers to existential relationship (but) not between two objects which exist independently because in this case, neither would be in need of the other object for existence. It rather exists between an independent being and a dependent one whose being is linked with and dependent on the cause. Thus the relationship of the effect to the true cause that imparts existence to him is nothing but absolute link and intuitionist annexation. If a person sees its reality, he will find it as dependent on the cause and as a reflection of it.
As a result, whoever succeeds in seeing his essence will find himself dependent on and linked with the Lord. Or, he will find himself as the incarnation of dependence on and relationship with the Lord. Such an observation will not be separate from observing ray of Almighty Allah's illuminations because understanding the relationship of the dependent being is impossible without understanding the possessor of relationship and the independent Being who eternalizes it:
"Enlighten our inward eyes towards yourself with the light of sight, so that the inward eyes would strip off the curtains of light and reach the source of grandeur and our souls would be attached to your sacred presence.2."
Thus observation of the essence of being is coupled with the independent observation of a ray of divine light of beauty and grandeur:
"Whoever recognizes himself has recognized his Lord."
The vaster the existential sphere of the soul, the more perfect its status, and the more profound and concentrated its observation, the greater and more will the understanding of divine illuminations be:
“And link me to the most luminous ray of Your power, so that I would know You only and turn away from aught but You.3"
The better man understands this attachment and dependence, the greater attention he will pay to the promoter of (this) attachment and the Genuine and Independent Being, and the more he will derive benefit from the rays of His glory, so much so that he will become a thorough reflection and a perfect manifestation of the Almighty Allah (glory be to His power):
"There is no separation between You and them, except that they are Your servants and creations and that their management is in Your Hands and that they begin (their lives) from You and return to You"4
By finding such a connection, man's desire to seek the truth and to pursue power is fully satisfied. By obtaining what he truly desires and establishing an existential link with Him, man reaches the greatest degree of pleasures. The most perfect phase of this develops when the soul totally dispenses with the management of the body, when it pays attention to nothing but Allah, when worldly occupations do not attract its attention and do not keep it from submerging in observation:
"And on the day of meeting You, light up our eyes with seeing You. 5"
The simplest way to believe in the possibility of connection with Almighty Allah is that which Allah has shown the people through His messengers and through this, He has greatly favoured His servants and given them the final notice:
“… لِئَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللَّهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ….”
"...So that people should have no argument against Allah after the (coming of) the messengers...(4:165)."
Without exception messengers of Allah have called the people towards proximity with Allah and connection with the source of Infinite knowledge and power. They have given tidings to the people to enjoy eternal blessings, infinite pleasures and whatever they wish:
“لَهُمْ مَا يَشَاءُونَ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ”
"They shall have with their lord what they please; that is the reward of doers of good (39:34).”
“…فِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِيهِ الْأَنْفُسُ وَتَلَذُّ الْأَعْيُنُ ….”
"... Therein shall be what their souls yearn after and (wherein) the eyes shall delight... (43:71)."
“…فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ”
"So no soul knows what is hidden for them of that which will refresh the eyes... (32:17)."
“لَهُمْ مَا يَشَاءُونَ فِيهَا وَلَدَيْنَا مَزِيدٌ”
"They have therein what they wish and with us is more yet (50:35)."
“…الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي صَدَقَنَا وَعْدَهُ وَأَوْرَثَنَا الْأَرْضَ نَتَبَوَّأُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ حَيْثُ نَشَاءُ…”
"... (All) praise is due to Allah, who has made good to us His promise and He has made us inherit the land; we may abide in the garden where we please... (39:74)."
The principal privilege of their call over that of other reformers is that they remind (the people) that this limited and transient life is not man's final abode. It rather is a prelude to reach eternal prosperity and it is a bridge to get to an eternal world:
”بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَى .إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَفِي الصُّحُفِ الْأُولَىٰ صُحُفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَى “
"Nay! You prefer the life of this world, while the Hereafter is better and more lasting. Most surely this is in the earlier scriptures, the scriptures of Ibrahim and Musa (87:16-19)."
As the main reason behind the denial of the disbelievers and the rejection of the messengers has been (due to) considering this truth improbable:
“وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا هَلْ نَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ رَجُلٍ يُنَبِّئُكُمْ إِذَا مُزِّقْتُمْ كُلَّ مُمَزَّقٍ إِنَّكُمْ لَفِي خَلْقٍ جَدِيدٍ”
"And those who disbelieve say: Shall we point out to you a man who informs you that when you are scattered the utmost scattering you shall then be most surely (raised) in (to) a new creation (34:7)?"
” زَعَمَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنْ لَنْ يُبْعَثُوا ۚ قُلْ بَلَىٰ وَرَبِّي لَتُبْعَثُنَّ ثُمَّ لَتُنَبَّؤُنَّ بِمَا عَمِلْتُمْ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌَ….يَوْمَ يَجْمَعُكُمْ لِيَوْمِ الْجَمْعِ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ يَوْمُ التَّغَابُنِ ۗ وَمَنْ يُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ وَيَعْمَلْ صَالِحًا يُكَفِّرْ عَنْهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِ وَيُدْخِلْهُ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ َالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَكَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ “
"Those who disbelieve think that they shall never be raised. Say: Aye! By my Lord! You shall most certainly be raised, then you shall most certainly be informed of what you did. And that is easy to Allah... On the day that He will gather you for the day of gathering, that is the day of loss and gain, and whoever believes in Allah and does good, He will remove from him his evil and cause him to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide therein forever; that is the great achievement. And (as for) those who disbelieve and reject our communications, they are the inmates of the fire, to abide therein evil is the resort (64:7, 9, 10)."
”وَنَحْشُرُهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عَلَىٰ وُجُوهِهِمْ عُمْيًا وَبُكْمًا وَصُمًّا ۖ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ ۖ كُلَّمَا خَبَتْ زِدْنَاهُمْ سَعِيرًا. ذَٰلِكَ جَزَاؤُهُمْ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَقَالُوا أَإِذَا كُنَّا عِظَامًا وَرُفَاتًا أَإِنَّا لَمَبْعُوثُونَ خَلْقًا جَدِيدًا. أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا أَنَّ اللَّهَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ قَادِرٌ عَلَىٰ أَنْ يَخْلُقَ مِثْلَهُمْ وَجَعَلَ لَهُمْ أَجَلًا لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ فَأَبَى الظَّالِمُونَ إِلَّا كُفُورًا“
"... And We will gather them together on the day of resurrection on their faces, blind and dumb and deaf; their abode is hell; whenever it becomes allayed We will add to their burning. This is their retribution because they disbelieved in our communications and said: What! When we shall have become bones and decayed particles, shall we then indeed be raised up into a new creation? Do they not consider that Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, is able to create their like, and He has appointed for them a doom about which there is no doubt, but the unjust do not consent to aught but denying (17:97 - 99)."
The messengers of Allah did not suffice with invitation, promise, and warning. Rather, with the permission of the Lord, they reflected instances of the signs of relationship with divinity and with the infinite source of knowledge and power, so that everyone would understand that resorting to the limited material means is not the sole way of acquiring knowledge and power and that it is possible for man to use divine sciences and metaphysical powers.
By presenting news of the unseen, discovering hidden secrets, and expressing the sciences and the philosophies while being unschooled, the messengers practically proved the possibility of establishing connection with divinity and acquiring unseen are mystical sciences:
“….وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الْأَسْمَاءَ”
"And He taught Adam all the names... (2:31)."
“ وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِنْ لَدُنَّا عِلْمًا….”
"... And whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves (18:65)."
“وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْحُكْمَ صَبِيًّا….”
"... And We granted him wisdom while yet a child (19:12)."
…”قَالُوا كَيْفَ نُكَلِّمُ مَنْ كَانَ فِي الْمَهْدِ صَبِيًّا. قَالَ إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ آتَانِيَ الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلَنِي نَبِيًّا“
"... They said: How should we speak to one who was a child in the cradle? He said, surely 1 am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet (19:29 - 30)."
“…وَأُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا تَأْكُلُونَ وَمَا تَدَّخِرُونَ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ ۚ…”
"... And I inform you of what you should eat and what you should store in your houses... (3:49)."
“…عُلِّمْنَا مَنْطِقَ الطَّيْرِ وَأُوتِينَا مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ…”
"... We have been taught the language of birds, and we have been given all things,- (27:16)."
“…وَكُلًّا آتَيْنَا حُكْمًا وَعِلْمًا…”
“…And to each one We gave wisdom and knowledge... (21:79)."
Above all is the Holy Qur'an which is the eternal miracle of the prophet (SA) of Islam, which has been revealed to an unschooled individual in a degenerated and backward society and which, from its revelation, has challenged the jinn and the men to bring a chapter like it. And as we know, despite numerous claims in this regard, no one has ever been able to challenge it. And on the basis of the explicit foretelling of the Qur'an, this will never be materialized.
In like manner, by performing extraordinary deeds and triumphing over natural forces, the divinely appointed messengers have practically proven the possibility of freedom from material bonds and attainment of an invincible power.
Emergence of a live cattle from the heart of the mountain by Prophet Salih, Prophet Ibrahim's deliverance from Namrud's great fire, transformation of a cane into a dragon or the ripping of the sea or making twelve springs flow from a stone by Prophet Musa, curing those blind by birth or giving life to the deed by Prophet Isa, taming of perceptible and imperceptible forces for Prophet Sulayman are examples of the extraordinary deeds performed by the prophets as related by the Holy Qur'an. The successors of the messengers and even many of their true followers also enjoyed possessing such knowledge and powers.
A holy hadith given by the Prophet (SA) states:
"My servant, obey me that I make you an example of myself. To whatever I say "Be", it will be created. I will make you such that to whatever you say "Be", it will be created."
And if the miracles proven by authentic and successive relations are gathered, they will make up great many volumes.
With all this is it befitting that some people, blindly and impudently, deny the existence of the metaphysics and the possibility of establishing connection with it and preclude others from pursuing this path as well.
The truth is that even if such miracles and clear verses did not exist, it would be apt for man to implement the programmes set forth by the messengers even experimentally and to evaluate their grand impact on man's material and spiritual prosperity. Because the matter is of such great importance that it justifies any sacrifice to have it fulfilled, especially with regard to the fact that implementing the programmes of the messengers, as opposed to many other plans, does not require dispensing with all worldly blessings and pleasures, it rather guarantees comfort and peace in this world as well. Among the messengers and their followers, there have also been people who have enjoyed worldly blessings more that the mammonists have done.
Would not the unexceptional insistence of all messengers on this matter and the unrivalled sacrifice of themselves, their successors and their true followers to propagate it, develop in the heart of the just person the possibility of the rightfulness of their claim?! What a great thing fairness is!
Is the value of such a reality less than the value of discovering natural secrets and conquering heavenly spheres? Enduring great pain and difficulty and using numerous natural forces as well as man power for scientific discoveries is worthy of attention and praise but using a part of (these) forces to establish connection with the infinite source of knowledge and power and to reach eternal prosperity and happiness is not correct and logical? What a great thing wisdom and far-sightedness is!
What we deduced from moral and rational premises is confirmed by the Book and the Sunnah. In some instances, we made reference to traditional proofs. Now we will mention some other examples from among the verses and narrations.
The Holy Qur'an introduces man as pious by nature and claims that all human beings, in a phase of being, have clearly observed their Lord and confessed His divinity:
“… أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ…”
Am I not your Lord? They said: Yes! (7:172)
The worldly life is for the sake of carrying out the covenant of servitude and determining man's fidelity towards this innate promise and covenant and finally reaching voluntary development through piety:
“وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ”
"And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me (51:56)."
For this evaluation, various conditions are put forth so that each person would freely choose his path:
“… لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا…”
"... That He might manifest you, which of you is best in action (11:7).”
In the dark labyrinths of life, only those who love their Lord, who take refuge with Him, and who seek His satisfaction are guided unto the right and safe path and unto Allah:
"...And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah... (2:165).”
“…قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ”
"Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you (3:31).”
”يَهْدِي بِهِ اللَّهُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ السَّلَامِ وَيُخْرِجُهُمْ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ“
"With it Allah guides him who will follow His pleasure into the ways of safety and brings them out of utter darkness into light by His will and guides them to the right path (5:16)."
“…وَمَنْ يُسْلِمْ وَجْهَهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ”
"And whoever submits himself wholly to Allah and he is the doer of good (to others), he indeed has taken hold of the firmest thing upon which one can lay hold... (31:22)."
فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَاعْتَصَمُوا بِهِ فَسَيُدْخِلُهُمْ فِي رَحْمَةٍ مِنْهُ وَفَضْلٍ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَيْهِ صِرَاطًا مُسْتَقِيمًا
"Then as for those who believe in Allah and hold fast by Him, He will cause them to enter into His mercy and grace and guide them to Himself on a right path (4:175)."
Such people will finally succeed in meeting the grace of Allah and reaching His proximity and being united with their Beloved:
"يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ .ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَرْضِيَّةً. فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي. وَادْخُلِي جَنَّتِي "
"O soul that art at rest! Return to your Lord, well - pleased (with him), well - pleasing (Him), so enter among My servants, and enter into my garden (89:27-30)."
"In the seat of honour with a Most Powerful King (54:55)."
”وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ نَاضِرَةٌ. إِلَىٰ رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَة “
“On that day, some faces shall be bright, looking to their Lord (75:22-23).”
But those who dote on worldly ornaments, who prefer the love of others to that of Allah and who have no eagerness for His mercy will suffer an infinite and painful torment and will be deprived of seeing their innate Beloved.
”إِنَّ الَّذِينَ لَا يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءَنَا وَرَضُوا بِالْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاطْمَأَنُّوا بِهَا وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا غَافِلُونَ. أُولَٰئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ“
"Surely those who do not hope in our meeting and are pleased with this world's life and are content with it and those who are heedless of our communications. (As for) those, their abode is the fire because of what they earned (10: 7-8)."
”قُلْ إِنْ كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ“
"Say: If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and your kinsfolk and property which you have acquired, and the slackness of trade which you fear and dwellings which you like, are dearer to you than Allah and His messenger and striving in His way, then wait till Allah brings about His command... (9:24)."
“كَلَّا إِنَّهُمْ عَنْ رَبِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَمَحْجُوبُونَ”
"Nay! Most surely they shall on that day be debarred from their Lord (83:15)."
In the Prophetic ahadith and the narrations of the Ahlul Bayt (AS) there are also numerous proofs, instances of which will be related from the holy ahadith narrated by the Prophet (SA), as well as the prayers of the infallible Imams (AS).
In Hadith-ul-miraj, the Holy Prophet (SA) is addressed as below:
"Whoever is to please Me will be accorded three traits by Me: I will teach him a gratitude which will not be coupled with ungratefulness, a dhikr which will not have forgetfulness, a love by which he will not prefer the love of the creatures to that of Mine. I will love him when he loves Me and I will make him loved by My servants and I will open up his inward eyes to My glory grandeur and I will not hide from him knowledge of the select of My people in the darkness of night and in the light of day, I will tell him secrets so that his conversation with creatures and with his companions will be cutoff (i.e. so that his heart will always be inclined towards Me and he will deem Me the partner to his conversation). I will make him hear My words and the words of my angels and I will reveal to him the secret I have hidden from the people ...
I will make his mind overflow with My knowledge and I will substitute for his reason (i.e, I will manage his affairs in such a way that he would not need the working of reason in them and that he would use his reason only in the way of knowing Me). (When the believer's soul leaves the body and receives kindness before Allah, it says:) O Allah ! You made Yourself known to me, so by knowing You, I became needless of Your servants. By Your power and glory, if Your satisfaction lay in my being torn to pieces and severely killed for seventy times, I would prefer Your satisfaction.... (Almighty Allah confirms His words and says in His right): I will open his eyes and ears so that he would hear My words whole heartedly and see My glory and grandeur with inward eyes.
O Ahmad! If a servant prays as much as the (entire) dwellers of the heavens and the earth, if he fasts as much as the (entire) dwellers of the heavens and the earth, if he takes no food like the angels and if his clothes are like those of the naked (scant), he will not be in proximity with Me if I see in his heart only a tinge of love for the world or concern for the reputation, mastery, fame or ornaments of the world, I will draw My love away from his heart and I will make his heart gloomy, so that he would forget Me and I will not make him taste the sweetness of Knowing Me. My peace and mercy be upon you."
In another hadith, He states:
"The Almighty Allah states: None of my servants will seek proximity with Me by that which is more dear to Me than things I have made wajib to him. Then with the nawafil, he will seek proximity, so that I would love him, When I love him, I will be the ear with which he hears, the eyes with which he sees, the tongue with which he speaks and the hand with which he takes hold (of things). If he calls Me, I will answer his call. And if he makes a request, I will grant it."6
In another hadith, He says:
"O son of Adam! I am a Needless One who will not become needful. Obey Me in what I have ordered, so that I would make you a needless one who will not become needful. O son of Adam! I am a living one who will not die. Obey Me in what I have ordered, that I would make you a living one who will not die. O son of Adam! To whatever I say "Be", it will be (created). Obey Me in what I have ordered so that I would make you say "Be" to whatever you wish and it will (be (created)."7
In the prayer of the month of Sha'ban, Amirul-Muminin(AS) addresses Allah as below:
"Set my effort in a comfort derived from reaching Your names and Your holy presence... O Allah, grant me the ultimate connection with Yourself. Open our inward eyes with the light of observation towards Yourself; so that the inward eyes would tear apart the veils of light and reach the treasure of glory and our souls would cling to Your holy presence... Attach me to the most luminous ray of Your power, so that I would know You alone and would turn away from aught but You."
In Kumayl Prayer, he says (the following) to Almighty Allah:
"O Allah, supposing that I bear patience on your torment, how could I bear patience on being separated from you? And supposing that I have patience on the heat of your fire, how could I have patience of not looking towards your glory and greatness?"
The Imam (AS) is related as saying:
"I saw nothing except that I saw Allah before (seeing) it."
In response to a person who asked him: "Have you seen your Lord?” he said: "Would I worship One Whom I cannot see?"
In the Arafah prayer, the sayyidush-shuhada', Al-Imam Al-Husayn(AS) says (the following) to Allah..
“O Allah! Through the variety of Your signs (in the world of being) and the changes in states and conditions. I found that the purpose is to make Yourself known to me in everything, so that I would not be ignorant of You in anything... O Allah! Association and engagement with the signs creates a gap in meeting (You), so grant me the blessing of service that would near me to You. How can they set proof of Your existence, a being that needs You for existence? Is there any other appearance that You lack, so that it would lead to Your appearance? When have You been absent to require proof? And when have You been away, so that Your signs would draw (the others) to You?! Blind be the eyes which do not see You keeping a watch over them and unprofitable be the transaction of a servant to whom You have not bestowed Your love. O Allah! You have ordered reference to the signs, so draw me to Yourself by the overflow of the illuminations and the guidance of mental insight, so that like the moment of entrance (into Your presence, I would return in such a way that my heart would be immune from observing the sign and trusting them. O Allah! Teach me with your treasure of knowledge and preserve me with Your veil of immunity. Inform me of the truth of those seeking Your proximity and guide me to the path of those You draw towards Yourself. With Your management and will-power make me needless of my own management and will-power. You are the one Who cast rays in the hearts of Your friends so that they recognize You as being possessed of unity. And You are the One who removed (love for) the others from the hearts of those fond of you so that they would not love and resort to aught but You. You are their Companion when everything appalls them. And You are their guide when the signs become manifest to them. What has been gain, by one who has lost You? And what has been lost by one who has found You? Whoever prefers others to You has verily become disappointed. And whoever turns away from Your presence will suffer great loss. O Lord! Call me with your mercy, so that I would reach You so that would turn my face….eager from observing your beautiful visage.”
Munajat ul Raghibin includes (the following):
"I beg You on the manifestations of Your visage and Your holy illuminations. I abjectly want You to fulfill my conception as to what I wish from You through Your sentiments of mercy and subtleties of beneficence: (my wishes are) with respect to Your bounteous honour and beauteous reward; with respect to proximity with and closeness to You; and with respect to seeing You."
Munajat ul Muridin includes (the following):
"O Allah! Lead us towards reaching You and set us out on the closest way to come to Your Presence. You (and naught but You) are my aim. My wakefulness and vigil are for You and for naught by You. Meeting You is the refreshment of my eyes. Being united with You is my heartfelt desire. I am infatuated with Your compassion. I am enamoured of You. Your satisfaction is my objective. And meeting You is my desire. And proximity with You is my ultimate demand....O heaven and blessing of mine! O world and hereafter of mine!"
Munajat ul - Muhibbin includes (the following):
"O Allah! Place us among those whom You have chosen for Your proximity and guardianship, whom You have made sincere for Your love and friendship, whom You have made eager to meet You and satisfied with Your satisfaction, whom You have granted seeing Your visage, whom You have favoured with Your satisfaction, whom You have safeguarded from being away and separated from Yourself, whom You have placed in the true status before Yourself;... whom You have chosen to observe (Your elegance )...and grant me the favour of seeing You."
Munajat ul Mutawassillin includes (the following):
“And place me among those whose eyes you have lighted up with seeing You on the day of meeting (You) and whom You have made the inheritors of real abodes in Your presence.”
Munajat ul Muftaqirin includes (the following):
"Nothing but union with You would extinguish my mental agony. And nothing but meeting You would put out the fire of my heart. And nothing but seeing You would quench my avidity. And nothing but closeness to You would calm me down... and nothing but proximity with You would remove my sorrow and grief."
Munajat ul Arifin includes (the following):
"(Place me as one of those) whose eyes have been refreshed by seeing their Beloved. How tasty Your compassion is and how wholesome each sip of Your proximity is! So grant us refuge from expelling and driving away."
Mundial ul Dhaikirin includes (the following):
“O Allah! Infatuated hearts are enamored of You. Various intellectuals have gathered around Your knowledge, so the hearts will not calm down except by Your remembrance and the souls will not be at rest except by seeing You…. And I deprecate any pleasure but Your remembrance, any comfort but acquaintance with You, any happiness but proximity with You, and any deed but worshipping You.”
Munajat uz zahidin includes (the following):
“Plant trees of love in our hearts and make perfect for us the rays of Your knowledge…. And refresh our eyes with seeing You on the day of meeting (You).”
Efforts made in the course of life in various scientific, practical, individual and social spheres will be human only when they take place for the purpose of reaching man's true perfection. In other words, these moves which forcibly have a direction will be deemed human endeavours when they are directed towards human perfection. Giving them a human direction will be possible only in case they are regarded as the ultimate point of man's development, because man's movement for perfection is scientific and voluntary and requires an objective and a direction. Thus recognition of the objective is not possible prior to acquiring moral and speculative understanding. Then it will forcibly be a mental idea and image. Thus the more vivid and conscious this recognition is, the more possibility for voluntary and optional development there will be.
Without a tinge of doubt, man's development takes place with the help of internal forces and psychological motives vested in his being. As a result, giving direction to innate desires is the best means for the recognition of man's ultimate goal and true perfection. The result of deliberation on the direction of each of these desires is that they all lead man towards infinity. A temporary and limited materialization of their demands does not fully satisfy man. Their full satisfaction is not feasible except by having connection with the source of knowledge and power and by being linked with the infinite treasure of Beauty and Perfection. It is only in the state of proximity with Allah and attachment to the illumination of divine glory that man sees his own essence and that of the entire world of existence dependent on Almighty Allah:
“And I will open up his inward eyes to My glory and grandeur and I will not hide from him knowledge of the select of My people."
And his desire to seek the truth is fulfilled. He will, likewise realize the influence of Allah's infinite power through his own will and he will create whatever he wishes with the permission of Allah:
“So that I would make you say "Be" to whatever you wish will be (created)."
Thus, man's desire to have an invincible power is satisfied. In this state man will be united with a Beloved possessed of infinite beauty and perfection, will see himself embraced by His endless grace and favour, and will have all his needs fulfilled by Him. Truly, how pleasant is the elimination of a need carried out by the beloved and coupled with His endless grace and compassion:
"When I love him, I will be the ear with which he hears..."
In this state, he will engage in nothing but uniting with Him and will think of nothing but satisfying Him:
"You and naught but You are my aim."
"Being united with You is my heartfelt' desire.. and Your satisfaction is my objective."
“… وَرِضْوَانٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ ۚ…”
"... And best of all is Allah's goodly pleasure... (9:72)."
And there will be no separation between him and his Beloved till eternity and he will not suffer from His separation.
"Then the veil between Him and me will be lifted and then He gets attracted to my conversation and He looks towards me with affection."
"Whom You have safeguarded from being away and separated from Yourself."
Finally in this state, man sees his being possessed of ultimate perfection and dependent on the Creator and reaches the greatest of all pleasures. As he sees no independence for himself in this observation, his self-love is also deprived of independence. His genuine, independent affection is bestowed upon Allah. Instead of loving Allah for himself, he will love himself for Allah, he will thus no longer have any concern for himself and he will be totally submerged in the beauty of the Beloved:
"I will make his mind overflow with My knowledge and I will substitute for his reason."
As a result, man's true desire and inherent beloved is Almighty Allah and man's true perfection lies in connection and proximity with Him. Other material and spiritual perfections should be used in the way of reaching this perfection. All forces should be mobilized to reach this goal. Each step man takes in a path other than this draws him away from the destination and any power he uses in a path other than Allah's satisfaction will be to his loss:
"And I deprecate any pleasure but Your remembrance, any comfort but acquaintance with You, any happiness but proximity with You and any deed but worshipping You."
If man's true objective is to reach proximity with Allah and if man experiences the greatest and the most lasting pleasures as a result of reaching it, how is it that the majority of people are not bent on having this fulfilled, even though they all seek pleasure and prosperity by nature?
In reply to this question, it must be said that man's endeavour to reach true perfection and prosperity and to reap benefit of its pleasure hinges on recognition and confirmation of its being pleasant. As the majority of the people do not know the main objective behind creation and their own true perfection as is due and as they have not tasted the pleasure of reaching it, they do not seek to find and obtain it. They however, recognize material and worldly perfection and sense the pleasure of reaching them.
For this reason, they use up all their energy to reach them, even though the people are different in their choice of worldly goods and states and (even though) each person, on the basis of his own perception and discernment, regards a group of these perfections as more important and more valuable or as less expensive and easier to find and thus exerts his efforts mainly to reach it.
Even though recognition of the true perfection has an innate basis, it will not spontaneously reach the degree of sufficient awareness and consciousness in the majority of the people and requires sound guidance and training.
For this purpose, one of the greatest responsibilities of the messengers is to awaken this innate unconscious instinct and to remind (the people) of the forgotten divine covenant.
وَاصْطَفى سُبْحَانَهُ مِنْ وَلَدَهِ أَنْبيَاءَ أَخَذَ عَلَى الْوَحْيِ مِيثَاقَهُم، وَعَلَى تَبْليغِ الرِّسَالَةِ أَمَانَتَهُمْ، لَمَّا بَدَّلَ أَكْثَرُ خَلْقِهِ عَهْدَ اللهِ إِلَيْهِمْ، فَجَهِلُوا حَقَّهُ، واتَّخَذُوا الاْنْدَادَ مَعَهُ، وَاجْتَالَتْهُمُ الشَّيَاطِينُ عَنْ مَعْرفَتِهِ، وَاقتَطَعَتْهُمْ عَنْ عِبَادَتِهِ، فَبَعَثَ فِيهمْ رُسُلَهُ، وَوَاتَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ أَنْبِياءَهُ، لِيَسْتَأْدُوهُمْ مِيثَاقَ فِطْرَتِهِ، وَيُذَكِّرُوهُمْ مَنْسِيَّ نِعْمَتِهِ، وَيَحْتَجُّوا عَلَيْهِمْ بَالتَّبْلِيغِ، وَيُثِيرُوا لَهُمْ دَفَائِنَ الْعُقُولِ، وَيُرُوهُمْ آيَاتِ الْمَقْدِرَةِ: مِنْ سَقْف فَوْقَهُمْ مَرْفُوع، وَمِهَاد تَحْتَهُمْ مَوْضُوع، وَمَعَايِشَ تُحْيِيهِمْ، وَآجَال تُفْنِيهمْ، وَأَوْصَاب تُهْرِمُهُمْ، وَأَحْدَاث تَتَابَعُ عَلَيْهِمْ،
“From his (Adam’s) progeny Allah chose prophets and took their pledge for His revelation and for carrying His message as their trust. In course of time many people perverted Allah’s trust with them and ignored His position and took compeers along with Him. Satan turned them away from knowing Him and kept them aloof from His worship. Then Allah sent His Messengers and series of His prophets towards them to get them to fulfill the pledges of His creation, to recall to them His bounties, to exhort them by preaching, to unveil before them the hidden virtues of wisdom and show them the signs of His Omnipotence namely the sky which is raised over them, the earth that is placed beneath them, means of living that sustain them, deaths that make them die, ailments that turn them old and incidents that successively betake them.”1
At this juncture, this grand responsibility is vested with people who have well recognized the path of the messengers and who have the power to make it known to others, so as to bring to the right track those who have swerved from the highways of prosperity and to inform them of their innate desire.
If the main goal behind man's creation is to reach such a status, then why has man's nature been vested with instincts which constantly draw him towards material pleasures and alluring appearances of the world and which preclude him from proceeding towards the major goal? Is not this a breach of purpose and contrary to wisdom? And if in place of these, there were motives which directed man only towards Allah and the Hereafter, would it not have been more compatible with this objective?
To clarify the answer to this question, two points should be taken into consideration:
(1) The value of man's perfection lies in its being voluntary. This privilege has carried man to the state where he is served and worshipped by the angels. To promote the operation of the will-power, there must forcibly be various means and different attraction, so that treading the path of prosperity would not be done by force and by compulsion.
(2) As man's development is gradual and as it is possessed of linear stages, it is necessary for the will-power to carry on its operation for a considerable length of time, so that in each phase, man could freely choose his way and even change direction.
These two points reveal the secret behind man's worldly and gradual life. Evidently, man's survival in the world of movement, change and gradual development necessitates means, tools, conditions and specific facilities. In fact, natural instincts are motives to provide these means and conditions. In the meantime, they also pave the way for the will-power and if the correct path is chosen, they can considerably promote man's progress towards the main objective and the ultimate perfection. As a consequence, their presence is not contradictory to the motive behind creation. Rather, their inexistence is contrary to Allah's absolute wisdom.
Supposing that man's ultimate perfection is in attaining curb with Allah and in giving up all demands and wishes to reach it and supposing that reaching this position is possible, such an aspiration would undoubtedly exist only in a case of a rare number of individuals. Consequently, reaching the desired perfection is exclusive to them. And others, who constitute the majority of the people, are deprived of it.
In this case, can it be said that only the select individuals deserve the name of man and that the others are in fact animals that have no vestige of humanity other than their appearance and are all doomed to eternal adversity and wretchedness?
In response to this question, it must be said:
As we have repeatedly noted, man's true perfection has various stages. If all people cannot reach its greatest degree, they can get to its lowest state. This can be materialized by believing in Allah and taking a step in the way of His servitude. Dispensing with all demands and using all powers for Allah's satisfaction is a prerequisite of reaching the greater degrees.
Of course, the signs deriving from proximity with Allah are not the same in all phases. For example, full knowledge of the realities, power to create anything or complete pleasure in seeing Allah is not fulfilled for every believer in this world. But those who safeguard their belief to the end of their lives and who do not dispense with their faith due to greatness of sin and offence will ultimately reach eternal prosperity, even though it might take long and even though, in the course of it, the believers might undergo difficult and painful stages as punishment of their indecent deeds.
It goes without saying that reaching eternal prosperity and everlasting paradise also have various degrees. In the world hereafter, each person will be rewarded commensurate with the basis of his knowledge, belief, gravity of deeds and ethics. Perhaps in each state, the individuals have the capacity to perceive the pleasures of that state alone and their will-power would tend towards reaching them.
As a result, it is not true that whoever does not reach the peak of human perfection and the ultimate point of proximity with Allah does not deserve to be called human and will finally be doomed to eternal wretchedness and suffering.
Qurb (proximity) with Almighty Allah, which is man's ultimate objective and which must be reached with will-power, does not mean bridging the gap of time and place, because Almighty Allah is the creator of time and place and encompasses all times and places and has no relationship in time and place with any being:
“…هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ وَالظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُ ۖ”
"He is the first and the last and the Ascendant (over all) and the knower of hidden things... (57:3)."
“…وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنْتُمْ…”
"... And He is with you wherever You are... (57:4)."
“…فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ…”
"... Therefore, wherever you turn, there is Allah's face... (2:115)."
In addition, the spontaneous bridging of time and place is not deemed a perfection. So what is actually meant by this proximity?
“أَلَا إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُحِيطٌ…”
"... Now surely He encompasses all things (41:54)."
The being and all the existential states of all creatures are within Allah's power and linked to His will-power. Rather, the existence of everything hinges on connection with and dependence on Him. As a result, He is closer (than aught) to everything:
“وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ…”
"... And We are nearer to him than his life vein (50:16)."
“فَلَوْلَا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ غَيْرَ مَدِينِينَ”
"And We are nearer to it than you, but you do not see (56:85)."
And this is a true existential proximity but it is not acquired. For this purpose, it cannot be regarded as the ultimate point and destination of man's development.
For proximity, one can conceive a meaning which is acquired and which is compatible with man's ultimate perfection. And that is a proximity based on credit and honour. That is to say, man is subjected to Allah's special grace such that all his demands come true:
A servant who reaches such a degree has reached his objective. In common usage too, a person who is loved by an eminent person is called "muqarrab". The Holy Qur'an also uses the term muqarribun to refer to the forerunners of the path of man's development:
“فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ .أُولَٰئِكَ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ”
"And the foremost are the foremost, these are the ones who are drawn nigh (to Allah) (56:10-11).
But here we do not intend to conduct a verbal discussion and to find a suitable meaning for the term qurb. The intention is rather to draw greater attention to man's ultimate goal, so that in its light, we would get to know the general path and the main road towards development. We must therefore, focus on the reality lurking beyond this honour and credit.
The reality which is regarded as man's ultimate perfection and which is called the qurb of Allah is a phase of being wherein man's innate gifts become active through their own voluntary movement. This movement can be quick and speedy (like that of some messengers and divine guardians who proceeded with development from the very first moment of their lives and who reached great perfection in a very small span of time) as Isa ibn Maryam (AS) said (the following) in the cradle:
“إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ آتَانِيَ الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلَنِي نَبِيًّا…”
"... Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet (19:30)."
According to Shi'ah narrations, the Imams of the Ahlul–Bayt (AS) praised Allah even in the prenatal state and were born bowing down (to Him). And these are the sadiqun. Or if the movement is average or slow in speed like that of other believers, it is diametrically opposed to the declining movement and retrogressive trend pursued by the disbelievers and the hypocrites.
The perfection derived from this voluntary trend does not depend on time and place and on material and physical conditions. It is rather related to man's heart and soul, and material conditions have a role only in paving the way for (this) movement, else the body's quantitative and qualitative move or transferring from one place to another have no impact on man's development, except that they assist man's spiritual and moral progress and that they are indirectly effective in man's development.
Thus man's true development consists of a scientific movement within the soul to reach a state where it could see itself dependent on and linked with Him, where it could see no independence in being, features, and deeds for itself and for other creatures, and where no incident would prevent it from making this observation. The sciences and observations acquired by man in the course of this movement will heighten his existential status and will gradually make his essence more perfect.
As a result of this, the less man feels in need of Allah, the more he deems himself independent in managing the affairs and providing the means of living and performing physical and mental activities. And the more independence he considers for other objects, the more ignorant, the more imperfect and the farther away from Allah will he be. The more he sees himself in need of Allah, the more he removes the veils of means, and the more the dark and bright veils are lifted from his eyes, the more aware, the more perfect and closer to Allah will he be, so much so that he will become a monotheist in acts and impacts and will see no independence for traits and beings. This is a state which the deserving and sincere servants and Allah's chosen friends will reach. Then there will remain no veil between them and their Beloved.
Thus true qurb with Allah is for man to realize that he would have everything while having Allah's love and satisfaction and that he would have nothing without Allah.
All beings in the world of existence are the creatures of Almighty Allah and are dependent on Him in existence and existential states and have no independence whatever:
“…ذَٰلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ”
"That is Allah, your Lord, the Creator of everything... (40:62)."
“أَنْتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ…”
"... You are they one who stand in need of Allah, and Allah is He who is the Self-sufficient the Praised One (35:15)."
And the reality of their existence is dependence on and attachment to Him, as well as absolute captivity and servitude.
“…كُلُّ شَيْءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلَّا وَجْهَهُ…”
"... Every thing is perishable but He... (28:88)."
“…وَعَنَتِ الْوُجُوهُ لِلْحَيِّ الْقَيُّومِ…”
"And the faces shall be humbled before the Living, the Self-subsistent God... (20:111)."
“إِنْ كُلُّ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ إِلَّا آتِي الرَّحْمَٰنِ عَبْدًا”
"There is no one in the heavens and the earth but will come to the Beneficent God as a servant (19:93)."
And the acts that they perform are the signs of dependence, servitude and needfulness. Thus ontologically, each person serves Allah:
“…وَلَهُ أَسْلَمَ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ…”
"... while to Him submits whoever is in the heavens and the Earth..(3:83)."
“…وَلِلَّهِ يَسْجُدُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِنْ دَابَّةٍ”
"And whatever creature that is in the heavens and that is in the earth makes obeisance to Allah (only)... (16:49)."
“… وَإِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ وَلَٰكِنْ لَا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ…”
"... And there is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise, but you do not understand their glorification... (17:44)."
Man is not exempted from this general rule, but normally he is not aware of his ontological servitude. In other words, he has been created in such a way in this world that he regards himself and other objects as being independent:
"Allah created the creatures as ignorants."1
That is to say, man does not see himself linked with Allah. In like manner, he sees his perfections as emerging from himself and deems himself independent in carrying out various deeds. He sets this independence in existence and in existential signs for other beings as well. He constantly endeavours to expand the sphere of his being and to obtain greater perfections and to find power to carry out more deeds and to make the foundation of his independence stronger. Among his conscious perceptions and desires, there is nothing contradictory to this "imagined independence." Of course he possesses an innate, unconscious perception of his inherent needfulness and his existential dependence, but the dominance of that material and animal aspect precludes this innate perception from reaching awareness except in specific conditions.
After reaching rational development, man can more or less, become aware of his own needfulness through mental activities and rational analysis and can realize the presence of Allah. Gradually with the development of his reason and with expertise in reasoning, he will gain more knowledge about his fundamental needs and his dependence, until in the ultimate phase of his rational progress, he will reach acquired awareness of his dependence. But this mental progress will not bring about an intuitive knowledge by itself. The domination of instincts and feelings and the attraction of desires and sentiments will often leave no room for the appearance and manifestation of innate knowledge, unless man decides to prevent their inundation, so as to reach self-realization, to prepare a means deep within his soul and to initiate a spiritual movement towards haqq. That is to say, he should focus on Allah and by continuing and strengthening sincere regards (for Allah), polish his innate knowledge and draw himself close to Allah.
In such a state, man's development in the way of the true destination and innate objective commences. That is to say, with free will and choice, he will make a conscious effort to realize his connection with Allah. He will confess his own need, weakness, meanness and finally his inherent poverty and needfulness. Then he will return to their true Owner the servants of Allah whom he unjustly attributed to himself and to others. And he will return the garb of divine power:
“إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا…”
"... Surely he is unjust, ignorant (33:72)."
This movement continues till man becomes a sincere servant. As a consequence, man's ultimate perfection lies in becoming a sincere servant or in seeing one's inherent and complete needfulness. To reach it, one must worship Allah and strive to please Him. That is to say, he should prefer the will of Allah to that of himself:
“إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ رَبِّهِ الْأَعْلَىٰ”
"Except the seeking of the pleasure of his Lord, the Most High (92:20)."
Thus, the main course of development, the right path of humanity, and the correct way of reaching proximity with Allah is worshipping Him, declaring imagined independence null and void, and confessing one's complete and all-embracing need of Allah:
“وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ”
"And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should worship Me (51:56)."
“وَأَنِ اعْبُدُونِي ۚ هَٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُسْتَقِيمٌ”
"And that you should worship Me; this is the right way (36:61)."
Only an effort and endeavour which has a hue of the servitude and worship of Allah can be deemed as being directed towards proximity with Allah and towards true development. Nothing other than worshipping Allah could be regarded as leading towards true perfection.
Worship has various meanings and applications which are different in scope:
(1) Worship is an act which is done only to express servitude to Almighty Allah. Basically it does not bear any relationship with aught but Allah (SWT). Acts of worship include salat, sawm and Hajj.
(2) Worship applies to an act which is done with the intention of qurbah, even if it does not primarily bear the title of servitude and even if it is related to the servants of Allah. These include khums, zakat, jihad, al-amrbil-maruf and al-nahy anil-munkar.
(3) Worship is done with the intention of qurbah, even if its correctness does not hinge on this intention. These include all acts which bring about the satisfaction of Allah (SWT). If these are carried out with the intention of qurbah, it will be deemed worship in this sense.
(4) Worship refers to obeying one who is independently regarded as wajibul-ita'ah, even if there is no intention of paying homage to him and expressing servitude to him.
With lexical analysis and application of the rules of discourse, we might prefer some of these meanings or we might regard them as having ambiguity and as being applicable to all cases while maintaining difference in degree. But obviously in this discussion, we do not intend to resolve issues related to discourse.
In proving that worship is a means to reach qurbah with Allah (SWT), we do not rely on traditional proofs. On the contrary, through moral and rational preliminaries, we have reached results from which we found the terms qurbah and worship applicable to these acts. As a consequence, it is fitting to carry on the discussion along the same lines and to clarify the matter using issues which explicitly confirm.
Issues which have been proven so far and which can be used to resolve these matters are as below:
(1) Man is a being who should reach ultimate perfection by his voluntary progress and development. Reaching his main goal depends on his free and conscious choice.
(2) The natural and inherent powers, as well as the facilities placed at his disposal are means to reach ultimate perfection. None of them is futile in and foreign to the process of his development.
(3) Man's main goal is to reach qurbah with Allah (SWT). The essence of qurbah is to intuitively learn of one's existential attachment to and relationship with Allah (SWT).
(4) The movement towards such a destination is an internal journey commencing from the depths of man's heart and soul and having no direct relationship with material things.
With regard to these preliminaries, we can derive the following as conclusion:
First: Human development and attainment of qurbah with Allah (SWT) depends on positive and progressive movements. Divestive and negative directions could not be considered as a step towards perfection. As a consequence, abandoning the worship of idols and obedience of the tyrants, secluding oneself and giving up sociability could not be by themselves, considered as means towards qurbah with Allah due to their divestive quality.
Second: Any form of activity would be along the course of man's development in case it has a positive relationship with his ultimate aim and perfection (i.e. qurbah with Allah and realization of one's existential attachment to and dependence on Almighty Allah).
Third: Such a relationship could be directly sought only among the concerns of the heart and the spiritual and moral states. Consequently the most genuine worship is an activity, freely and consciously, carried out by the heart to find its inherent desire.
Fourth: Other activities of man should be somehow related to this activity of the heart so as to be in the path of development; else they should be either completely abandoned (supposing this could be done, it is contrary to the philosophy of existence of inherent attractions and would require restriction of voluntary development) or they should be considered as means which are excessive and foreign to man's development. In this case, an important part of activities of life should be placed outside the sphere of development. One should have no hope in their contribution to reaching the objective. And this is not correct either.
Thus the only sound means is to transform into worship the various activities of life in the light of intention and niyyah and to grant them a development form, so that human faculties would not be wasted and the zone of will-power and choice would expand to the extent demanded by and provided for by Allah (SWT).
A group of people have conceived that since man's process of development starts from the heart and moves towards Allah (SWT), one must dispense with all but the necessary activities of life and choose a remote corner for dhikr and heartfelt concern (for Allah) and sever ties with everyone and everything.
Although this group has correctly determined the goal and the summary course (of action), it has missed the mark in determining the sound path and the precise plan which leads to man's specific perfection (which is marked by being all-embracing and comprehensive) and has overlooked the various dimensions of man's soul.
It must be borne in mind that man's main privilege is the free choice of the path of prosperity and the attainment of a perfection beyond those of the angels. This could be materialized amidst conflicts, struggles, and combats in the light of an all-embracing endeavour. Eradication of some innate desires or severance of social relations would in fact, limit the range of will-power, tighten the zone of struggle and bar many of the ways of progress and development.
Of course, it must be kept in mind that people have different capacities and talents. Each person should select a field commensurate with his capacity and talent. Not every bird could soar like the eagle and not every athlete could test in combat with a champion. But at any rate, the correct means of development is to gradually and proportionately, lead to growth in all dimensions of existence.
We found that in the process of man's development, the heart is the main wayfarer that proceeds towards Allah (SWT) in the way of servitude. In the wake of the activities of the heart, other efforts would assume a form of servitude and would bear an impact on man's development.
The genuine process of development would commence when man recognizes the means and the end, and treads the path (towards this end) with will-power and choice. Thus its main condition is (to have) learning and knowledge. Now we must consider the role of knowledge in the process of development. Is it a perfection or not? And if it is a perfection, is it genuine, relative or preferential?
On the value and importance of knowledge, various extreme views have been expressed. Some, like the Mashsha philosophers, regarded knowledge and philosophy not only as a perfection but also as a principle and the ultimate point of all human perfection. As already pointed out, the perfect human being is one who has logical knowledge of all facts of existence. On the other hand, another group of persons are of the view that acquired knowledge has no relationship with human perfection. "Official learning is a hubbub altogether." They have not sufficed even with this. They have regarded learning as a block and barrier in development. They have even called it "al-Hifalbul-Akbar".
At this point, we do not intend to analyze and interpret these statements or to justify and find a way to bring them together. Rather, on the basis of the method of this discussion and issues we have so far proven, we intend to find the position of knowledge in the process of development.
After realizing that man's ultimate perfection is to reach qurbah with Almighty Allah and to establish an intuitive link with Him, there is no question that the final stage of man's process (of development) is of a speculative type. Such speculative knowledge is an innate desire and genuine perfection. It is even the ultimate point of all perfection. But the point is in acquired and mental knowledge. In this regard, the following must be pointed out:
According to the interpretation already mentioned for perfection, one can regard knowledge as man's perfection, because knowledge is an existential trait acquired by man. Through knowledge, man rejects non-existence and imperfection. For this purpose, knowledge is naturally sought by man.
We however explained that each existential trait is not absolutely the perfection of that which is qualified with it. Rather existential traits are at times genuine perfections and at other times, preferential and relative perfections. Relative perfections will be deemed the true perfection of a being, in case they serve as means to reach genuine perfection.
If they are used contrary to the direction of the ultimate perfection, they will be a prelude to imperfection and ultimate downfall, even though they are perfections as compared to lower degrees.
Knowledge is either acquired, theoretical or practical. Although theoretical sciences have no direct relationship with the trend of development, some of them such as divine sciences, facilitate the recognition of the objective for man. In case they are employed to reach qurbah with Allah (SWT), they will serve as an invaluable preferential perfection.
Although other theoretical sciences are not a prelude to the recognition of the objective or a means to reach it, they can greatly contribute to the required recognitions. These are especially those sciences which unveil the mysteries and philosophies of existence and which can play an effective role in eliminating vital requirements which are a preferential value. Enjoyment of these blessings could be a motive to thank and worship Allah (SWT) and thus it can establish connection with man's true prosperity. However the relationship between practical sciences and man's process of development and its preliminaries needs no explanation. Obviously man's conscious development hinges on them.
We must emphasize that all acquired sciences pave the way and broaden the facilities for man's true progress. They never bear a certain and indispensable impact on man's prosperity. As a result, learning, in the form of mental reserves, could not be considered as a potential perfection for man, unless it becomes a means to reach qurbah with Allah (SWT), to promote theism, to show the means, to enjoy divine blessings so as to thank (Almighty Allah) or to prepare the ground for the development of oneself and others.
With respect to the issues set forth, our position vis a vis pragmatism becomes clear.
The advocates of pragmatism which is a manifestation of humanism, are of the view that science and art are valid if they provide a better standard of living. What is essentially valid according to the pragmatists is useful work for living.
In response to these, we mark that neither worldly life nor efforts made for individual and social welfare are possessed of genuine value, so that science and art would become valid in the light of them. The only thing which is essentially valid for man is the qurbah of the Almighty Allah and whatever facilitates this qurbah will be valuable to the same extent and to degree that it serves as a means. The perfect human being bears no label other than theism and accepts no ism other than Ilahiism and regards genuineness exclusive to Allah.
“…ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّ مَا يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ هُوَ الْبَاطِلُ”
"That is because Allah is the Truth, and that what they call upon besides Him, that is, the falsehood... (22:62)."
As a consequence, neither acquirement of knowledge and art nor individual and social work possesses absolute validity. All of them will gain validity only in case they are done to serve Allah (SWT) and are carried out in the light of (establishing) relationship with Him.
The following might be set forth: Even though pragmatism regards validity based on usefulness in earthly life and cannot be approved as such, a pragmatic inclination towards genuineness of work for life in the Hereafter is acceptable. Consequently, performing deeds useful for life in the Hereafter has relative validity but science and art are deprived of even this relative validity.
It must however, be borne in mind that man's prosperity is rooted in the heart and not in body organs and limbs and the means. The heart has the principal role in moving towards qurbah with Allah (SWT). 'Thus relative validity belongs to the activities of the heart and external deeds become valid in the light of them and not the vice versa In the same way that science could become valid as a prelude to decent deeds, it could play a more important role as a prelude to belief which is prior to action and its basis.
If taken in the sense of mental acknowledgement, belief is the same as science and its permanence is not optional because reason takes in some science extemporaneously and man has no power to acquire or confirm them.
Although some sciences are normally acquired optionally with their preliminaries, they are not kept up by choice. That is to say, these preliminaries might involuntarily come to mind upon hearing a sound or seeing a line. Man might involuntarily perceive and confirm them. Indeed, when the preliminaries of knowledge are prepared by choice and will, there will necessarily be motives for acquiring them.
This motive might be the sense of curiosity. Or it might be the attainment of honour, material enjoyment or the satisfaction of Allah (SWT). Only in the latter case will it be deemed worship. The materialization of such worship should however, have the precedents of knowing and recognizing Allah (SWT).
Belief, as stressed in this discussion and as deemed the basis of prosperity in the Qur'an and the religious texts, refers to a truth diametrically opposed to kufr and giving up faith. It is different from knowing and recognizing. Many a time, man knows something but his heart does not accept and admit it. As a result, he deliberately opposes it and when necessary, denies it verbally as well. Such a negation which is knowingly done is worse than one carried out unknowingly and is more disadvantageous for man's development as stated by the Holy Qur'an:
“...وَجَحَدُوا بِهَا وَاسْتَيْقَنَتْهَا أَنْفُسُهُمْ ظُلْمًا وَعُلُوًّا”
"And they denied them unjustly and proudly while their soul had been convinced of them... (27:14)."
Quoting Hadrat Musa (AS), it addresses Fir'awn as:
“…لَقَدْ عَلِمْتَ مَا أَنْزَلَ هَٰؤُلَاءِ إِلَّا رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ بَصَائِرَ…”
"...Truly you know that none but the Lord of the heavens and the earth has sent down these... (17:102)."
In the meantime, Fir'awn said:
“…مَا عَلِمْتُ لَكُمْ مِنْ إِلَٰهٍ غَيْرِي…”
"...I do not know of any god for you besides myself... (28:38)."
In the period of the Messenger (SA) of Allah and afterwards, there were people like Fir'awn who denied the realities. There still exist such people as well. The psychological motive behind such a denial is that man sees the acceptance of some realities as a barrier in his freedom and slovenliness and as obtrusive in the strong desires which he cannot give up. The Holy Qur'an states:
“بَلْ يُرِيدُ الْإِنْسَانُ لِيَفْجُرَ أَمَامَهُ”
“Nay! Man desires to give the lie to what is before him (75:5)."
More explanation will be later given in this regard.
The conclusion is (as follows): Belief means the heart's acceptance of that which reason and the mind have confirmed, the (heart's) undertaking of all its means, and the (heart's) summary decision to carry out its practical requirements. Thus belief hinges and depends on recognition. But it is not the same as knowledge and it is not its permanent requirement.
Hence the relationship between belief and action is made clear, because belief requires action but is not the same as outward action. It is rather its root and provides direction for belief. The worth, merit and active advantage of the action depends on belief. If an act does not spring from belief in Allah (SWT), it will have no effect in man's true prosperity, even if it is a good act and brings about great worldly rewards for the agent and for others:
’’وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَسَرَابٍ بِقِيعَةٍ يَحْسَبُهُ الظَّمْآنُ مَاءً حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَهُ لَمْ يَجِدْهُ شَيْئًا وَوَجَدَ اللَّهَ عِنْدَهُ فَوَفَّاهُ حِسَابَهُ“…
" And (as for) those who disbelieve, their deeds are like the mirage in a desert, which the thirsty man deems to be water; until when he comes to it he finds it to be naught, and there he finds Allah, so He pays back to him his reckoning in full... (24:39)."
’’مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ ۖ أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَرَمَادٍ اشْتَدَّتْ بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي يَوْمٍ عَاصِفٍ ۖ لَا يَقْدِرُونَ مِمَّا كَسَبُوا عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ“…
" The parable of those who disbelieve in their Lord; their actions are like ashes on which the wind blows hard on a stormy day; they shall not have power over anything out of what they have earned... (14:18)."
“وَقَدِمْنَا إِلَىٰ مَا عَمِلُوا مِنْ عَمَلٍ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا”
"And We will proceed to what they have done of deeds, so We shall render them as scattered floating dust (25:23)."
Thus belief is man's first step in his trend of development towards the ultimate perfection, i.e., the qurbah of Almighty Allah. This step is the root of step taken later and the essence of all stages of perfectibility.
The second step in man's process of development is an activity performed by the heart after establishing belief in Allah (SWT) and without the interference of body organs and limbs. This means remembrance of Allah (SWT) known as dhikr.
“وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ…”
"... And remember Allah much, that you may be successful (62:10)."
The stronger and more concentrated this remembrance is, the more effective it will be in man's progress. It may be that a moment's complete remembrance is more effective than years of physical worship.
The third step constitutes other spiritual acts performed by man while remembering Allah (SWT). These include thinking and reflection on divine verses and on the signs of His power, grandeur and wisdom. Permanence of dhikr and reflection will bring about cordial attachment and affection:
“…الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ”
"Those who extol Allah, standing, sitting and (lying) on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth ... (3:191)."
Then it is the turn of various body activities. In other words, the summary decision which is a requisite of belief becomes evident in various manifestations and in the form of major and minor will-powers. 'These will-powers which are, in one respect, secondary to the main will-power strengthen dhikr and belief.
“وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي…”
"...Keep up prayer for My remembrance (20:14)."
“وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ”
"... And the good deeds lift them up... (35:10)."
Likewise if will-power is contrary to the demands of belief, it will gradually weaken belief. Thus the relationship between belief and action is exactly the same as that between the root of a plant and the vegetable functions. That is to say, intake of nutritious food would lead to the growth and solidification of the root and intake of poisonous and disadvantageous material would weaken and finally dry the tree from the root. In like manner, decent deeds are effective in the permanence and solidification of belief. Doing indecent deeds and committing sins would weaken and finally dry belief from the root:
“فَأَعْقَبَهُمْ نِفَاقًا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يَلْقَوْنَهُ بِمَا أَخْلَفُوا اللَّهَ مَا وَعَدُوهُ وَبِمَا كَانُوا يَكْذِبُونَ”
"So He made hypocrisy to follow as a consequence into their hearts till the day when they shall meet Him because they failed to perform towards Allah what they had promised with Him and because they told lies (9:77)."
“ثُمَّ كَانَ عَاقِبَةَ الَّذِينَ أَسَاءُوا السُّوأَىٰ أَنْ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَكَانُوا بِهَا يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ”
"Then evil was the end of those who did evil, because they rejected the communications of Allah and used to mock them (30:10)."
Previous discussions shed light on the ultimate perfection, the destination of the process of development and the principal trend and policy progress and development. Determination of its minor and minute trends is vested with ethics and fiqh. The final part of this discussion is about regulation of the soul to tread the path of development, i.e. recognition of how we can prepare grounds for a decisive determination and serious will-power to tread the path of worship and perform the duties related to servitude.
We know that each living being possesses the two principal features of understanding and voluntary movement. According to a logical interpretation, the combination of these two reflects the essential distinction and privilege of the animate being.
In man, who is a distinguished living being, these two features exist in a more extensive, complex and profound form. They make up the two joint psychological systems: the system of perception and the system of will-power. These two systems are so related and interdependent that they at times confuse even the exact scientists.
To realize the quality of development of will-power and its relationship with perception, it is apt to primarily cast a glance at various types of perception, as well as attractions which lead to the emergence of will-power.
For long the philosophers and scientists have engaged in analyzing man's perceptions and instincts. They have classified them in various forms. Irrespective of common scientific discussions and philosophical conclusions, we will embark on a speedy survey of man's psychological functions with regard to perception, the sources of will-power, the quality of its emergence and the development of a voluntary action, so as to acquire the needed recognition for self-cultivation and for giving a sound and divine direction to our actions.
In man, perception has various forms to which we will briefly refer:
Some perceptions are coupled with specific physical, chemical, physiological actions and reactions of external factors and sense organs. These include seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching.
Another group of minor perceptions develop without contact with external factors. These include hunger and thirst.
Yet another group of our perceptions develop in the mind with particular psychological forces which have various forms. Research on the types, features, forces related to them, as well as their relationship or lack of relationship with the nervous system, is beyond the scope of this discussion.
In our own being, we see that external sense perceptions somehow remain in the mind even after sense organs cut off (their) relationship with the external world. After ignoring or forgetting them, they can once again come to mind and are reflected in the consciousness. The same holds true for internal sense perceptions, passive conditions and other matters related to perception.
Another mental activity is related to understanding general concepts which takes place due to the analysis of minor perceptions or in some other form. It is similar to making up specific concepts known as "secondary contemplative sciences" such as the meaning of existence, non-existence, wujub and imkan.
Another mental activity is about composite perceptions and development of propositions. This creates a form of unity among various concepts. In like manner, combination of two statements under specific conditions leads to the perception of a third proposition known as "the conclusion of reasoning."
At this point, it is fitting to provide a brief explanation on the propositions:
Mental propositions could, in one sense, be divided into apparent and acquired ones and in another sense, into theoretical and practical propositions. Normally, theoretical perceptions are related to "theoretical reason" and practical perceptions to "practical reason". They introduce practical reason as the power which gives order and stirs will-power. At times, it is conceived that will-power is related to practical reason or is its effect. This is while it has been proven that theoretical and practical reason are not separate faculties and that practical understanding is not substantially different from theoretical understanding.
The function of reason with regard to practical understanding is exactly the same as that of theoretical understanding. That is to say, reason perceives the relationship between action and its result just as the cause-effect relationship. When this perception turns into valid concepts with the aid of the mind's conceptualization faculty, it turns into orders issued by reason, else reason, in fact has no role other than understanding. It does not have direct relationship with will-power, motivation and stimulation. The do's and don'ts of man's activities attributed to reason are similar to the do's and don'ts applied by scholars of natural sciences and mathematicians in stating the rules.
There is also another form of understanding for all and sundry. This is one's speculative knowledge of oneself, one's deeds, physical means and impressions produced by the nervous system, likewise there is a speculative awareness of the sublime source. At the beginning, this is an unconscious awareness for ordinary people and should be promoted to the level of consciousness with effort and endeavour.
Apart from these general and known perceptions, there are other perceptions such as telepathy, sciences drawn from jinns, spirits or those in the state of hypnosis or mania, information revealed to the ascetic, satanic temptations and angelic and divine inspirations.
Above all these perceptions is the wahy of nubuwwah revealed unto the prophets (AS) by Almighty Allah. It is similar to the inspiration and narration provided for other chosen servants, just as the mother of Prophet Musa (AS) received tidings of her child's return and his elevation to the level of prophethood. The same holds true with respect to Lady Maryam (AS) and to the Imams' (AS) inspiration with sciences. The truth of these is not clear for all but those who have personally realized them.
Moreover each understanding and perception is not coupled with its logical and philosophical interpretation, just as we are all involved with satanic temptations and visibly see their impacts on ourselves but cannot express their nature. The general way to confirm the source and explain the emergence of such perceptions is, apart from observing their outcomes to obey the words of the Infallible Imams (AS) or to quote those who have reached realization and whose statements are reliable.
In man, there are inclinations, drives and attractions which serve as the source of will-power and voluntary actions. Psychologists have analyzed various forms of natural and inherent drives and have divided them into various groups. They have differences of views in the number and quality of classification. At this point, we will mention the inclinations and drives which we substantially find in ourselves (without following the terminology and principles of a specific school of thought).
Some drives have a clear relationship with the chemical and physiological body functions, such as the urge to eat and drink which is with man from birth to death and which is stimulated when the body requires food and water. The same is tenable for sexual desire which develops at the age of puberty due to the secretion of specific hormones.
Another group of motives give rise to specific bodily functions. Those lacking insight believe that psychological motives are the same as body function such as the desire to defend or take revenge which becomes apparent in the form of anger and which turns the face red and makes the veins on the neck swollen. This is similar to the urge to escape from danger. This is deemed as a form of defense mechanism. Another group of motives comprise "feelings", the most important of which is feeling for one's relatives and community. Another instinct is curiosity and quest for the truth which prompts man to discover what is unknown and to learn about the realities.
The quest for power, domination, mastery and extension of one's zone of activities is another instinct. Another form of instincts is related to the attainment of titles of importance, such as rank, status and personal independence. Another type of innate drives relates to spiritual and moral beauties and perfections. This incites man to attain various forms of obtainable perfection and beauties, to establish relationship with perfect and beautiful objects and finally to show humility towards the genuine perfection.
All human instincts are rooted in self-love. This has two main branches of "preservation of one's (integrity of) being" and "attainment of feasible perfections". Preservation of one's (integrity of) being is related to an individual or to the mass, to the elimination of needs and dangers to the satiety of hunger, thirst, sexual desire, to the fulfillment of the instinct to defend, escape and take revenge and to the satisfaction of familial and social sentiments.
In like manner, attainment of perfection comprises the instincts of curiosity, quest for power, search for status and love for perfection and beauty.
You must not conceive that what we set forth means a restriction of all human instincts and desires. Likewise it must not be assumed that classification of instincts means that they are separate in terms of the effects they produce. It might be that several instincts have a share in a single action.
Another point which must be kept in view is that the separation of drives and desires from sciences and perceptions does not purport a denial of their quality of being based on intelligence. Without doubt, these attractions and psychological conditions are not like magnetic attractions which take place without understanding and intelligence. The point however, is to differentiate the system of absolute perception from the system of will-power, as the latter requires stimulation and motivation while the former does not entail these. Also the relationship between these two systems is to be studied so as to provide greater awareness of psychological phenomena in order to regulate and control them.
Stimulation of each desire depends on a specific feeling which is in accord and is harmonious with it. For instance, appetite is dependent on hunger. This link is so strong that normally both states are regarded as a single state.
Satisfaction and satiety of instinctive desires and demands depend on proportionate perceptions. At this stage, the contribution made by the system of perception to the system of stimulation is so clear that it requires no explanation. Satisfaction of one desire requires the extensive cooperation of various powers of perception. For example, the care taken in modern cooking, points up to the extensive perception activities, ranging from sensory to imaginary to mental, having a share in it.
The relationship of these two systems however, is not exclusive to these two functions. There is rather another form of relationship between them which is of utmost importance in our discussion. This refers to the effect of some perceptions which have no natural relationship with a particular drive in stimulating desire, will, hatred and aversion. For instance, seeing a scene, hearing a sound or smelling something could stir one's appetite or provoke sexual desire of other drives. Or concern with colour and a specific condition could bring about aversion towards and reluctance for another type of food or object.
The impact of some of these is so common and obvious that one conceives that they have a natural link with the stimulation of desires, such as smelling food and becoming hungry. On the contrary, some others are hidden and insignificant such that one conceives that some desires are stirred by chance or without cause or stands at awe in explaining their causes. Recognition of such relationship is of utmost importance for our purposes because concern with them indicates what a tremendous effect a glance or a sound can at times have in man's fate and how it could stir a desire or decision that could lead to his prosperity or adversity.
The secret behind this relationship is in association of perceptions and ideas. That is, the formation of man's mind is such that repeated synchronism and perception would bring to mind something upon experiencing another thing related to it. For instance, upon smelling a food, whose taste, colour and smell is known to man, he will recall its taste and have appetite for it. If we investigate the causes behind our decisions, we will realize that sense perceptions, especially those related to visual and auditory matters, play a significant role in our imagination and reflections and in turn, in our voluntary deeds. Thus we conclude that one of the best means to check our desires and demands and filially to establish greater self-control and to curb carnal desires and satanic temptation is to control the perceptions and foremost to control the eyes and the ears:
“إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا”
"Surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these, shall be questioned about that (17:36)."
Likewise one of the best means to stir beneficial decisions is to meet virtuous people, to hear their tales, to recite the Qur'an, to study advantageous books, to go on pilgrimage to shrines and sites which would make man mindful of Allah (SWT), of His chosen servants and of the sacred goals and objective which these servants have pursued:
“...فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ مَقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ”
"In it are clear signs, the standing place of Ibrahim... (3:97).”
This elucidates the philosophy behind many wajib, mustahabb, haram and makruh decrees of Islam, such as going on hajj pilgrimage and the sacred sites or abstaining from looking at sensual scenes or showing aversion towards sitting in a seat which has been warmed and which still holds the warmth produced by a strange ghayr-mahram lady. It also elucidates the role of a friend in one's prosperity or adversity:
لَقَدْ أَضَلَّنِي عَنِ الذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَنِي ۗ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِلْإِنْسَانِ خَذُولًا”
وَقَالَ الرَّسُولُ يَا رَبِّ إِنَّ قَوْمِي اتَّخَذُوا هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ مَهْجُورًا“...
"O woe is me! Would that I had not taken such a one for a friend! Certainly he led me astray from the reminder after it had come to me... (25:28-29)."
"Whenever Allah has a good turn toward His servant, He will grant him a virtuous friend, If he forgets (Allah), the friend will remind him and if he remembers (Allah), the friend will assist him."
"The disciples told Jesus Christ: With whom should we associate? He said: With one who would remind you of the Lord, whose words would enhance your knowledge, and whose deeds would make you inclined towards the world to come."
The same holds true for the effect of our words and lees on others and for the role of our acts as a model for the prosperity or adversity of (our) family and society. Thus we shoulder another form of responsibility:
"Call on the people without words (i.e. with deeds, set an example for the people.)"
Using the faculties and means of perception is, to a large extent, within our own power. For instance, whenever we desire, we would set eyes on a scene and watch it. Whenever we do not want this, we avoid looking at the scene or shut our eyes. It might be conceived that when the eyes are open and when enough light is available, there is no longer a specific condition required to see the object before us.
This is while experience has proven the opposite of this conception, because many a time, we do not see an object even though its visible form is reflected in the eyes and we do not hear a sound even though sound waves bring about the vibration of the eardrum. And this is when we are concentrating on something else.
This reflects that perception is not solely a physical phenomenon or a physiological function. It rather is related to the soul. By paying attention, perception develops and by ignoring, perception is lost. Material actions and reactions provide the conditions and requirements of perception.
In most cases, paying attention or not, doing so depends on man's personal desire and inclination. That is to say, when man desires to have a specific perception, he will focus attention on it. And with the necessary conditions available, perception will take place. On the contrary, when man has no inclination (towards something), he will not focus attention on it and will not perceive it. For example, a baby's cry might be heard by the mother alone. Even at times, a mother starts out of her dream upon hearing her baby's cry while she might not be awakened by a louder sound produced by someone else. The reason is nothing other than the psychological factor and the mother's affection for her child.
The influence of willingness and inclination in perception is not exclusive to sense perceptions. It rather exists in various forms in the imaginations, ideas and even rational deductions: For instance, people have better memories for the things they like. Intellectual affairs in which the thinker is interested proceed better.
More surprisingly, from their reflections, people derive the conclusions which they have already approved and with which they have been inspired, even though they might conceive that it is a natural conclusion derived from logical reasoning. This is while their personal interest has been effective in selecting the prerequisites of a reason or in the quality of regulating the prerequisites. It might even lead to fallacious reasoning:
“بَلْ يُرِيدُ الْإِنْسَانُ لِيَفْجُرَ أَمَامَهُ”
"Nay! Man desires to give the lie to what is before him (75:5)."
Explanation: Man's unwillingness to derive a conclusion that is contrary to his own wishes would at times, lead to neglect and inattention towards the subject. At times, it would bring about neglect toward the preliminaries. In case due to external factors, he passes these stages against his wishes and reaches an undesirable conclusion, he falls into doubt and misgiving. If the reasoning is so clear that it leaves no room for misgiving, then it is time for a failure of memory. In a short span of time, man will forget it altogether. If a factor reminds him of it, he will refrain from wholeheartedly accepting and believing it. He will obstinately deny it, as previously indicated in expressing the difference between knowledge and belief:
“إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَمَا تَهْوَى الْأَنْفُسُ ۖ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَهُمْ مِنْ رَبِّهِمُ الْهُدَىٰ…”
"... They follow naught but conjecture and the low desires which (their) souls incline to; and certainly the guidance has come to them from their Lord (53:23)."
As a consequence, a person who is immune from the domination of opposing desires could be confident of his mental deductions; else so long as carnal desires wield control over man and so long as concern for material goods, sensuality, status, position and other unbridled demands attracts the soul, there will be no hope of reaching sound conclusion from mental and intellectual activities in related fields.
With regard to speculative knowledge and awareness of them, mental desires and attachments play a significant role. For example, the conditions and states of the soul would at times become unconscious and neglected due to concern for another object. In philosophical terms, in such a state, there is no awareness of knowledge. In like manner, the soul's speculative awareness of Almighty Allah could be neglected due to concern for material objects. The soul will not become aware of it unless, willingly or necessarily, it cuts off concern for material means.
Consequently, correct enjoyment of the powers of perception will be feasible when the heart is purged from material and carnal desires and when the mind is cleared of prejudgments and is adorned with taqwa. Progress in the stages of taqwa prepares man for the rays of spirituality and heavenly and divine inspirations:
“إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَذِكْرَىٰ لِمَنْ كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ”
"Most surely there is a reminder in this for him who has a heart or he gives ear and is a witness (50:37)."
“ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِلْمُتَّقِينَ”
"This Book, there is no doubt in it, is a guide to the muttaqun (those who guard against evil) (2:2)."
”قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا. وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنْ دَسَّاهَا“
"He will indeed be successful who purifies it, and he will indeed fail who corrupts it (91:9-10)."
“…إِنْ تَتَّقُوا اللَّهَ يَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ فُرْقَانًا…”
"... If you are careful of (your duty to) Allah, He will grant you a distinction... (8:29)."
”يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَآمِنُوا بِرَسُولِهِ يُؤْتِكُمْ كِفْلَيْنِ مِنْ رَحْمَتِهِ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ نُورًا تَمْشُونَ بِهِ“
"O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and believe in His Apostle: He will give you two portions of His mercy, and make for you a light with which you will walk... (57:28)."
On the contrary, following carnal desires and having attachment for the world would lead to fascination, deviation and deprivation of sound understanding. It would bring about the domination of Satan, enhancement of ignorance, deviation and combination of unawareness and inward blindness:
”أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَنْ يَهْدِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ اللَّهِ“...
"Have you then considered him who takes his low desire for his god, and Allah has made him err having knowledge and has set a seal upon his ear and his heart and put a covering upon his eye. Who can then guide him after Allah... (45:23)?"
“كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ مَنْ تَوَلَّاهُ فَأَنَّهُ يُضِلُّهُ وَيَهْدِيهِ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ”
"Against him it is written down that whoever takes him for a friend, he shall lead him astray and conduct him to the torment of the burning fire (22:4)."
”وَمَنْ يَعْشُ عَنْ ذِكْرِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ نُقَيِّضْ لَهُ شَيْطَانًا فَهُوَ لَهُ قَرِينٌ. وَإِنَّهُمْ لَيَصُدُّونَهُمْ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ وَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ مُهْتَدُونَ“
“And whoever turns himself away from the remembrance of the Beneficent God, We appoint for him a Satan, so he becomes his associate. And most surely they turn them away from the path, and they think that they are guided aright (43:36-37)."
Consideration of various powers of perception and motivation sheds light on the emergence of the bases of will-power in man's soul and on the performance of voluntary action. That is to say, man at first senses a shortage and consequently becomes annoyed and upset. Or he might not experience a known pleasure and might thus seek (to find) it. Pain or expectation of a pleasure compels him to make efforts to remove his pain by performing an appropriate action and to provide the pleasure in mind and to eliminate his physical or mental need. As a result, the deeds of man are innately directed to eliminate the shortcoming and to reach perfection.
The motive behind performing these deeds is to remove pain or reach the desired pleasure. Now this holds whether man's deed is purely psychological or mental such as heartfelt concern or meditation or is based on stimulation of muscles or body organs with or without the involvement of external factors. Even when man performs a deed benefitting someone else, his main motive is to remove his own difficulty or reach his own pleasure, even if this pain and pleasure are brought about by the suffering or enjoyment of others.
Of course, man does not reach his purpose in every deed. In addition to the existence of favourable external factors, man's success is dependent on the soundness of perception and its power of distinction, as well as the sound recognition of how to eliminate the shortcoming, to employ his faculties and to use external factors.
At times, man's consideration of his needs takes place naturally and by body reactions; for instance, thirst and hunger. At other times, it takes place upon contact with the external world; for example, sensing danger would lead (man) to escape or to prepare to defend himself or seeing a pitiful scene would touch a person of noble sentiments into suffering from the deprivation of others and being stirred into helping them.
In the first case, association of external factors would at times, awaken a slumbering desire as already discussed. External factors likewise, could be effective in awakening innate desires and absolute psychological drives, as the call of the prophets awakens theism. Seeing and hearing their signs would also produce the same effect.
If at a single moment, just one instinct and desire exists in the soul, man immediately sets to satisfy it. In case the situation is favourable and in case there are no external barriers, man carries out the appropriate deed. But if there are various desires and if all of them cannot be satisfied at once, they will naturally clash with one another.
Whichever has greater attraction will draw attention to itself and will reach fulfillment, as some children prefer to play rather than to eat, as a hungry mother gives her food to her child, as a student prefers studying, as a devout man prefers to engage in worship rather than to sleep and as a combatant soldier prefers sacrifice in the way of Allah (SWT) to the comfort of himself and his family. In such cases, the value of man will become evident and his dormant aptitudes will flourish. And (either) prosperity or adversity will reach materialization. Principally this is the philosophy of the creation of man in a world of clashes and conflicts as repeatedly pointed out.
Now the question arises as to whether man should be an observer of the clash of desires and to pursue a desire when it becomes dominant due to natural or social factors or should assume a decisive and determining role with his mental and voluntary activities and even at times, abstain from satisfying his powerful natural demands? In the first case, man will submit to blind instincts and will be like a straw at the mercy of storm or flood. In fact, he will give up humanity and in other words, he will render meaningless the special human faculties. The Qur'an interprets this as "heedlessness", a heedlessness which makes man less than animals and puts him in worse errors:
“أُولَٰئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ”
“They are as cattle, nay, they are in worse errors; these are the heedless ones (7:179).”
In the second case, another issue is raised: What is the criterion with which man should prefer some of his desires to others? As this question embraces religion itself, it must be answered irrespective of means that are taken for granted.
This question could be answered in three forms:
Firstly, on the basis of the innate desire to prefer what is most enjoyable, one would evaluate the affairs in relation to the pleasure they provide. When the affairs clash, one would choose the most pleasurable one. Of course in this evaluation, one must not set an instantaneous pleasure as a criterion because an affair with instantaneous pleasure might bring about great sufferings in the future. In addition we might not have experienced pleasure of some affairs so as to be able to compare them with other matters. Thus the sound means to determine what is most enjoyable is to recognize the essence of pleasure and its criterion and to find out through a rational analysis, which pleasure is more valuable and enduring. We have already made such an analysis and reached the conclusion that the pleasure of having qurb with Allah (SWT) is greater and more enduring everything else:
Secondly, one should compare the instincts on the basis of their ultimate aims and attach superiority to one having a greater goal. It has already been marked that instincts fall into two principal branches: one is the branch of preserving individual identity and the other one is the branch of acquiring perfection. The aim of the first branch is man's survival in this world to tread the path of his development. For example eating and drinking fulfill body needs for carrying on with worldly life. The goal behind the instinct to defend oneself is to be relieved of danger to continue living. The goal behind the sexual instinct is to promote familial and social sentiments for the survival of mankind. The end of the second branch is infinite and eternal. And obviously this goal is more superior and permanent:
Thirdly, instincts in the first branch are naturally like preliminaries, because their role is to pave the way and provide the means for development. As compared to these, the second branch is possessed of genuineness. Clearly the value of the preliminaries depends on the value of that which requires these preliminaries and it can never challenge the latter. In other words, none of the instincts of the first branch has dominance over the other one or over instincts of the second branch. On the contrary, each of them requires a specific motion.
Yet the instinct to seek perfection controls and dominates other instincts, as it necessitates the mobilization of all forces for the process of development. Thus it should practically be deemed dominant as well. Its demands must be established as the criterion for restricting and justifying other desires. Previous discussions proved (the fact) that man's perfection, for whose materialization all forces should be mobilized, is to reach qurb with Almighty Allah:
We found out that face-to-face with natural and social factors and their clash and confrontation, man should not be a neutral observer. On the contrary, he should play a decisive and effective role in employing specific human powers. With his voluntary and conscious activity, man should use all (his) powers (by setting them) in the right track. He should mobilize them in the way of reaching the main objective and the ultimate perfection.
Without doubt, the power of reasoning is one of the human faculties that could aid this fruitful effort. Solidification of this power will have a tremendous impact on the process of man's development. Even Socrates (according to the different interpretations related from him) saw virtue in reason, learning and wisdom.
But Aristotle cavilled at him saying that many men possessed of learning and wisdom do not use them and thus are not qualified with ethical virtues. For this reason, (Aristotle believed that) it could not be regarded as the foundation of all virtues. By accepting this criticism we add that basically the function of perceptive powers is not to stimulate and instigate. Even divine guidance and illuminations transcending reason cannot spontaneously give rise to will-power and do not guarantee man's attainment of the desired perfection:
…”الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْهَا... وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَاهُ بِهَا وَلَٰكِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ“…
"... Of him to whom we give our communications, but he withdraws himself from them.... And if we had pleased, we would certainly have exalted him thereby; but he clung to the earth and followed his low desire... (7:175-176)."
The requirement of prosperity is the domination of the sublime desire to worship Allah (SWT) and the defeat of base carnal and satanic desires. At the same time however, we stress the significant role of man's power of reason in justifying (his) will-power. The reasoning faculty assists us in providing the preliminaries for selection and the manner of regulating and justifying them. These discussions are instances of its effects. As a result, we should always determine our course of action in the light of the guidance of reason and we should prepare ourselves for the reception of divine illuminations.
The power of reason has great importance in determining the objective and recognizing the main course of action. However, it is not sufficient for the recognition of details of the course of action and exact plans. One must necessarily seek help from the wahy and reap benefit of the all-embracing programmes of religion. Thus it is exigent to strengthen the religious insight and to expand (the range of) awareness of religious sources and resources, as solidification of innate perception by means of heartfelt concerns and exercise to concentrate them in various forms of worship is an important - or rather the most genuine factor for true development. Recognition of all these realities takes place owing to reason and rational reflections.
But in this part of the discussion, it is of exceptional importance for us to know how to provide grounds for stimulating the sublime human demand and desire to reach qurb with Allah (SWT) and how to strengthen this demand and make it overpowering.
It was previously noted that at times, a desire is stirred due to actions and reactions inside the body. At other times, contact with external factors provides this. Still at other times it is due to psychological activities which are, in themselves stimulated by external stimuli. Normally instincts related to the branch of self-preservation are roused naturally with the first two factors. The philosophy behind the fact that their stimulation is not dependent on man's conscious activity is that man's individual and social existence in this world is directly related to the functioning of these instincts.
If the instincts were dependent on man's will and choice, they would be abandoned and no ground would be left for the process of development because of heedlessness or erroneous ideas. Yet after ground is paved for development, it is man's turn to reach perfection through voluntary activity. As man's true perfection is voluntary, the greater the range of free choice, the greater possibility will there be for voluntary development. For this purpose, the activity of the second branch of instincts, even the stimulation of the instincts and the determination of the means to satisfy them have been, to a large extent, entrusted to man so that he would reach a developmental result by preparing the means for it.
When a desire is stirred in man and when upon satisfying it, a pleasure is derived or a pain is removed, the soul will pay greater attention to it. In the second phase, this desire will appear in a stronger form. And finally as a result of its recurrence, it will be implanted in the soul. Likewise the soul will become interested in the external factor which promotes the action and which somehow serves as a means to fulfill the desire. In this state, we express love for such and such an act, object or person.
The requirement of love is the incessant concern of the soul for the beloved and the performance of deeds harmonious with this concern. So if we want to give a particular direction to our process (of development) and to mobilize all our powers for the attainment of a specific goal, we must strive for the persistence of the soul's concern for the objective and for its direction. We must do something, so that the soul would become acquainted with the objective and would develop strong love and affection for it.
Persistence of the soul's concern for and concentration on a single objective hinges on ignoring whatever is contrary to it and on abstaining from independently considering any other demand. The soul should employ all instincts at the service of its sublime and perfectionist demand and deem their satisfaction secondary to the fulfillment of this (main) demand. Success in this endeavour depends on a practical programme comprising specific positive and negative efforts to strengthen the desire for (reaching) perfection and theism: The most significant positive items of this programme are as below:
Worship and especially the timely performance of the wajib daily salat with full concentration and sincerity:
”قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ. الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ“
"Successful indeed are the believers who are humble in their prayers (23:1-2)."
If possible, we should devote a part of our time to heartfelt remembrance (of Almighty Allah) and we should allocate an appropriate time and place to it:
“…وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ فِي نَفْسِكَ تَضَرُّعًا وَخِيفَةً”
“And remember your Lord within yourself humbly and fearing ... (7:205)."
Continuation of this act would bring about the heartfelt intimacy with Allah (SWT), the pleasure of praying to Allah (SWT) and indifference towards material enjoyments. Likewise we should not abandon charity donations and sacrifice which are the best means to dispense with worldly pleasures and to purify the soul from being tarnished by the worldly affairs:
“وَمَنْ يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ...”
"... And whoever is preserved from the niggardliness of his soul, these it is that are the successful ones (59:9)."
“…لَنْ تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنْفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ”
"You shall not attain goodness unless you spend out of what you love... (3:92)."
“…خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِمْ بِهَا”
"Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby... (9:103)."
Salat and charity donation are complementary to one another. It is perhaps for this reason that they are often cited with one another in the Holy Qur'an:
“وَأَوْصَانِي بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا...”
"... And He has enjoined on me prayer and poor-rate so long as I live (19:31)."
Each day, we should allocate a part of our time to meditation over the features and signs of Allah (SWT), the goal behind creation, His infinite blessings and beneficence, determination of the sound course of action, the prolonged nature of the path, shortage of time and power, multiplicity of barriers (in the way), futility of worldly objectives, limited and infected nature of worldly pleasures, attachment of worldly pleasures to pains, hardships and afflictions, as well as other matters which encourage man to tread the path of servitude and which preclude him from egotism and mammonism.
“إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ…”
"... Most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect (13:3).”
We should make a daily programme for the recitation of the Holy Qur'an with concentration and meditation. Likewise we should study the traditions, sermons, philosophical statements, jurisprudential decrees and ethical orders so as to always remember the objective and the sound means of reaching it, and so as to use them (as signals) to remind us of our desire to seek perfection.
“وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِنْ مُدَّكِرٍ”
"And certainly We have made the Qur'an easy for remembrance but is there anyone who will mind? (54:17, 22, 32, 40)."
The most important negative aspects of this programme are as follows:
(1) We should not go to excess with regard to material pleasures, as these would habituate the soul with animal drives. In using worldly blessings, our motive should be to prepare the means for the development process. These means include salubrity, power and vivacity of the body for worshipping and being grateful to Allah. Among factors involved are fasting, not eating to satiety, saying little and sleeping little while observing moderation and health.
“وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُونَ”
"And who keep aloof from what is vain (23:3)."
“وَأَنْ تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ ۖ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ…”
"... And that you fast is better for you if you know (2:184)."
(2) We should control the sensory and visionary powers which could stimulate animal drives through association. We should especially safeguard the eyes and the ears from seeing sensuous scenes and hearing vain and amusing words and sounds. On the whole, we should abstain from whatever draws our attention to things that do not satisfy Allah (SWT):
"... Surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these shall be questioned about that (17:36)."
(3) We should keep our thoughts from declining. We should especially avoid studying and discussing doubtful matters which we do not have the power to answer. If we occasionally conceive of doubtful matters or hear them, we should immediately set to find a convincing answer to them:
”وَقَدْ نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الْكِتَابِ أَنْ إِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ يُكْفَرُ بِهَا وَيُسْتَهْزَأُ بِهَا فَلَا تَقْعُدُوا مَعَهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِۚ إِنَّكُمْ إِذًا مِثْلُهُمْۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ جَامِعُ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ فِي جَهَنَّمَ جَمِيعًا“
"And indeed He has revealed to you in the Book that when you hear Allah's communications disbelieved in and mocked at, do not sit with them until they enter into some other discourse; surely then you would be like them; surely Allah will gather together the hypocrites and the unbelievers all in hell (4:140)."
"Whoever listens to (the words of) a speaker has worshipped him. Thus if this speaker represents Allah, the listener has worshipped Allah and if he represents Satan, the listener has worshipped Satan.1"
The point which must be kept in mind in the regulation and implementation of the programme is the observation of gradualness and moderation. That is to say, we should never inflict an intolerable pressure on ourselves because, in addition to bringing about rebellion and revolt in the soul, it might produce irreparable physical or psychological damage. As a result in drawing up a programme, it is apt to consult an informed and reliable person. On the other hand, we should not be slack in carrying out the specified programmes and we should not make excuses for abandoning them, because the continued pursuit of these programmes brings about useful results. At any rate, we should put our trust in Allah (SWT) and ask Him to grant us success.
“All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.”
Ahlul-Bayt(AS): Members of the Holy Prophet's Household(AS); prophet Muhammad (SA), Lady Fatimah(AS) and the twelve Infallible Imams(AS)
Al-Amr bil-Maruf: enjoining good or lawful acts
Al-Nahy anil Munkar: forbidding evil or sinful acts
Amirul-Muminin: Commander of the Faithful Imam 'Ali(AS).
Dhikr: words for the remembrance of Allah(SWT)
Fiqh: Islamic jurisprudence
Hadith (pl: ahadith): tradition
Hajj: Obligatory pilgrimage to Makkah once in a life-time for Muslims who can afford it
Haram: religiously unlawful or forbidden
Hijãb Akbar: The great barrier or veil
Jihad: holy war
Khums: 1/5 levy
Makruh: undesirable thought not unlawful
Masha: the Aristotelian philosophy
Muqarrab: one who has been drawn nigh
Nawafil: specific salawuat which are sunnah and are associated with each wajib salah
Qurb/ Qurbah: proximity with Allah(SWT)
Sãbiqun: the foremost
Sayyidush shuhadã: Master of the martyrs lmãmul Husayn (AS)
Sunnah: tradition based on the words or deeds of the Holy prophet (SA) or the Infallible Imams(AS)
Wahy: divine revelations
Wajibul ita’ah: obligatory to obey
Zakat: statutory Islamic levy on specified items for Muslim’s welfare