Rafed English

Awsaf al Ashraf - The Attributes of the Noble

Awsaf al Ashraf - The Attributes of the Noble by : Shaykh Khwaja Nasir al-Din al-Tusi


بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Immeasurable thanks are due to God, Whose reality no intellect can fathom and the knowledge of whose Being no thought or science can apprehend. Any expression describing Him, if affirmative, does not enter the conceiving mind without the traces of anthropomorphism, and if negative, is not conceived by it in a manner secure from the scandalous negation of attributes (ta'til).

Therefore, the leader of the elect, the exemplar of the saints (awliya') and the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad Mustafa, may God bless him and his Household, said:

لا أحصي ثناء عليك. أنت كما أثنيت على نفسك, وأنت فوق ما يقول القائلون

I cannot reckon Thy praise. Thou art only as Thou hast praised Thyself, and Thou art above what the describers say (in describing Thee). 1

May a myriad fold greetings, kudos, and blessings be upon his sacred soul and on the spirits of the pure ones of his Household, especially the Infallible Imams, as well as the elect of his Companions, by Thy right, O God!

After writing the book entitled Nasirian Ethics (akhlaq-e Nasiri), which discusses the noble dispositions and the sound policies of moral conduct according to the way of the philosophers (hukama'), the writer of this treatise and the author of this discourse, Muhammad al-Tusi, had it in his mind to write a concise treatise describing the ways of the awliya' and the methods of the seers according to the principles of the wayfarers of the Path (tariqah) and the seekers of the Truth (haqiqah) and one based on the principles of reason and tradition, containing the subtle theoretical and practical points that constitute the kernel and essence of that discipline.

However, countless preoccupations and vain obstacles did not permit him to carry that out, and what he had in mind could not emerge from potentiality to actuality, until this moment, when this idea materialized at the compelling behest of his honour . . . , the master of the sword and the pen, the elect of the eminent from among the Arabs and the non-Arabs, the sun of the truth and the faith (shams al-haqq wa al-­din), the glory of Islam and Muslims, the chief of the viziers, the holder of the high office of the dominions, the pride of the elite and the nobility, the embodiment of justice and benefaction, the world's most meritorious and perfect, the refuge and shelter of Iran, the lover of the awliya', Muhammad ibn Sahib al-Said Baha' al-Din Muhammad al-Juwayni, may God strengthen his helpers and increase his power twofold.

As opportunity became available and time and circumstance became conducive, the plan at last materialized, to the extent that the mind would assist and was feasible in view of the various obstacles and numerous preoccupations, of compiling, in compliance with his order and in obedience to his command, this brief treatise in several chapters, expositing those truths and describing those subtleties. In every chapter, he has for witness' sake cited a verse of the glorious revelation, which is such that:

لَّا يَأْتِيهِ الْبَاطِلُ مِن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَلَا مِنْ خَلْفِهِ...

“Falsehood cannot find way into it from before it or behind it.” (41:42)

And where he could not find something that was expository of the purpose at hand he has confined himself to that which was more accessible. He has named it Awsaf al-ashraf and were it to be viewed with favour by his noble eye, its purpose would be achieved; otherwise, in view of what has been already stated in way of excuse, it is hoped that his noble self, with his noble disposition and sublime virtue, will overlook its lapses and cover them with the mantle of his forgiving grace, so that God, the Glorious and the Exalted, may bestow upon him of divine grace and everlasting sovereignty in the real world in the same way as He has chosen him for mastery and leadership in this realm of appearance. Indeed He is Gracious, and answers prayer.
It would be proper at the outset to mention the contents of this brief treatise. There is no doubt that when one contemplates over one's state (reading ahwal, instead of af'al), one would find oneself to be in need of something besides oneself, and that which is in need of something else is deficient.

And when one becomes aware of his deficiency, there arises in his inner being a yearning to seek perfection. This prompts him to undertake a journey in the quest of perfection, which is called `wayfaring' (suluk) by the people of the Tariqah (the mystic path). And one who desires to undertake this journey stands in need of six things.

First, the guidance for this journey and that which is necessary for the journey to be made, and this is similar to the provisions that one needs for a physical journey.

Second, overcoming the hindrances and obstacles in the way of the journey.

Third, making the movement which takes one from the starting point to the destination; it consists of wayfaring and the states of the wayfarer during its' course.

Fourth, the states which occur to the wayfarer in the course of his wayfaring from the start of the journey to the point of destination.

Fifth, the states that befall those who have completed the journey (ahl al-wusul) after wayfaring.

Sixth, the end of the journey and the culmination of the way faring which is called fana' (annihilation) in tawhid (Divine Unity).

Each of these consists of several matters, excepting the end of the journey wherein there is no multiplicity. We shall discuss these six matters in six chapters, each having six sections, with the exception of the last chapter which does not allow of any multiplicity.

It should be known that in the same way as in a physical journey the traversing of every part of the road depends on traversing of a preceding part and is succeeded by another part-excepting the last part-each of these states is an intermediate stage between the end of the preceding stage and the beginning of the next, so that every stage is the sought after goal as its previous stage nears its end and is left behind and abandoned as one approaches its succeeding stage.

Hence every stage is a perfection in relation to its previous stage and remaining in it is a defect when one ought to turn to the next desirable stage. Hence the Prophet, may God bless him and his Household, has said:
من استوى يوماه فهو مغبون
One whose two days are equal is a loser. 2
And that is why it has been said:
حسبنات الابرار سيئات المقربين
Merits of the virtuous are vices for the saints. 3
1. Sunan Ibn Majah, ii, 1262, hadith 3841, ed. by Fu'ad `Abd al-Baqi, Beirut: Dar al-Fikr li al-'Taba`ah wa al-Nashr wa al-Tawzi`.

2. Ibn Abi Jumhur, `Awali al-li'ali, i, 284, ed. by al-Hajj Aqa Mujtaba al Iraqi, 1st edition, 1403/1983, Qum. Matba`ah Sayyid al-Shuhada' `alayh al-salam.

3. Al-Fayd al-Kashani, Mahajjat al-bayda', vii, p. 89, from al-Imam al-Sadiq ('a).
This chapter consists of six topics, each of which is discussed in the following sections:

Section one: on faith (iman)

Section two: on steadfastness (thubat)

Section three: on intention (niyyah)

Section four: on truthfulness (sidq)

Section five: on penitence (inabah)

Section six: on sincerity (ikhlas)
Section One: On Faith
God, the Exalted, has said:
الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الْأَمْنُ وَهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ
“Those who believe and obscure not their faith with wrongdoing, theirs is safety; and they are rightly guided.” (6:82)
Iman literally means 'affirmation,' that is, believing, and in the terminology of the seers means a particular kind of affirmation, an affirmation of that which is known for certain and has been declared by the Messenger, may peace be upon him.
The knowledge (ma'rifah) of the Prophet is inseparable from the knowledge of the Sustainer, the Powerful, the Knowing, the Living, the Perceiving, the Hearing, and the Seeing One, Who wills and speaks and has sent the Messengers and revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad Mustafa, may God bless him and his Household, and set forth the laws, the duties, and the sunan, the lawful and the unlawful, as affirmed by the consensus of the entire Ummah.
Hence faith consists of these matters, neither more nor less. For if lesser, it would not be faith at all, and if more, the increase will be a higher degree of faith, contiguous to faith. And the sign of belief is to know, to say, and to do that which should be known, said, and done and to refrain from that which has been forbidden.
These pertain to righteous conduct and are subject to increase and decrease and are an essential part of the aforesaid affirmation. That is why in all the places the mention of faith is accompanied with that of righteous action, as in the following [Qur'anic] statement
 الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ
“Those who believe and perform righteous deeds ...” (2:25)
And it should be known that faith has various degrees, the lowest of which is verbal confession. The verses:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا آمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ
“O you who believe, believe in God and His Messenger and the Book that He has sent down on His Messenger.” (4:136)
قَالَتِ الْأَعْرَابُ آمَنَّا ۖ قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَٰكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ...
The Bedouins say: 'We believe: Say (unto them O Muhammad): 'Ye believe not; but say, “We submit;” for faith has not yet entered into your hearts. (Yet, if you obey God and His Messenger, He will not with-hold from you aught of your deeds. God is indeed Forgiving, Merciful.') (49:14)
Above that is faith by imitation, which is a convinced affirmation of that which must be affirmed, but it is subject to decline. When convinced affirmation is achieved it is necessarily accompanied by righteous action:
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَرْتَابُوا وَجَاهَدُوا...
The (true) believers are those only who believe in God and His Messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive (with their wealth and their lives for the cause o f God. Such are the sincere.) (49:15)
Superior to this faith in the Unseen, in accordance with [the words of the Qura'an] يؤمنون بالغيب... “who believe in the Unseen” (2:3), which represents inward faith in transcendence, as if one were affirming something on the other side of a curtain. Superior to it is the faith of those concerning whom He says:
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ حَقًّا
They only are the (true) believers whose hearts tremor when God is mentioned, and when the revelations of God are recited to them they increase their faith, and in their Lord put their trust, who perform the prayer, and expend of what We have provided them, those in truth are the believers; (they have degrees with their Lord, and forgiveness and generous provision.) (8:2-3)
This is the rank of perfect faith. Next to it is convinced faith, to be explained later on, and that is the ultimate degree of faith.
The minimum degree of faith lesser than which is not appropriate in wayfaring, is faith by imitation and faith in the Unseen, for mere verbal faith is not actually faith. To this refers the following statement of the Qur'an:
وَمَا يُؤْمِنُ أَكْثَرُهُم بِاللَّهِ إِلَّا وَهُم مُّشْرِكُونَ
“And the most part of them believe not in God, but they associate other gods with Him.” (12:106)
The cause of steadfastness is an insight into the truth believed in, the delight of having found it, and a perseverance in this state as a habitual condition of the inner self. That is why the performance of righteous works by those who have this steadfastness is perpetual as well as necessary.
Section Three: On Intention
God, the Exalted, has said:
يُثَبِّتُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ
“God confirms by a stable belief those who have faith in the life of the world and in the Hereafter . . .” (14:27)
Unless faith is not characterized by steadfastness, the tranquility of the soul, which is essential for the quest of perfection, is not obtained, because one who is shaky in his belief cannot be a seeker of perfection. The steadfastness of faith depends on achieving the certitude that there is perfection and the Perfect Being.
Without this certitude the quest of perfection does not materialize, and until the resolve to seek perfection and the steadiness of this resolve is not achieved, wayfaring is not possible. One who makes the resolve without being steadfast in it is
“like one bewildered whom the devils have kidnapped in the earth” (6:71, كَالَّذِي اسْتَهْوَتْهُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فِي الْأَرْضِ حَيْرَانَ)
The bewildered man has no resolve, and until he is resolute enough to advance in a direction, no movement, journey, or wayfaring will take place, and if there is any movement at all, it is accompanied with anxiety and hesitation and is fruitless and futile.
The cause of steadfastness is an insight into the truth believed in, the delight of having found it, and a perseverance in this state as a habitual condition of the inner self. That is why the performance of righteous works by those who have this steadfastness is perpetual as well as necessary.
Section Three: On Intention
God, the Exalted, has said:
قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“Say (O Muhammad), 'Indeed, my prayer and my worship, my living and my dying, are for God, the Lord of the Worlds.” (6:162)
Niyyah means intention, and intention is a link between knowledge and action. For unless one knows at first that he has to do something, one cannot intend to do it and unless there is intention one cannot carry out an act.
The starting point in wayfaring is intention, the intention to reach a certain destination, and since the goal is to acquire perfection from the Absolutely Perfect, the intention should be one of acquiring nearness to the Almighty, Who is Absolute Perfection.
Such being the case, intention by itself is better than action when taken alone, for
نية المؤمن خير من عمله
The believer's intention is better than his works. 1
For intention is like the soul and action like the body, and
إنما الأعمال بالنيات
(The intrinsic worth of) works only depends on the intentions (that lie behind theme) 2
that is, the life of the body is through the soul. And [as the Messenger of God has declared
 لكل أمرئ مانوى فمن كانت هجرته الى الله ورسولة فهجرته الى الله ورسوله ومن كانت هجرته لدنيا يصيبها او أمراة ينكحها فهجرته الى ما هاجر إليه
Every man receives what he has intended: one who has migrated towards God and His Messenger migrates towards God and His Messenger, and one whose migration is to achieve a mundane purpose or to marry a woman, his migration will take him to the intended goal of his migration. 3
A good work accomplished with the intention to seek nearness to God will certainly achieve its due perfection, in accordance with the statement of God, the Exalted,
لَّا خَيْرَ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِّن نَّجْوَاهُمْ إِلَّا مَنْ أَمَرَ بِصَدَقَةٍ أَوْ مَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ إِصْلَاحٍ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِ اللَّهِ فَسَوْفَ نُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا
“There is no good in much of their secret conferences save him who enjoins charity and propriety and peace-making among the people. Whoso does that, seeking the good pleasure of God, We shall bestow on him a mighty reward.” (4:114)
Section Four: On Truthfulness
God, above all descriptions is He, has said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ
“O you who believe, observe your duty to God and be with the truthful (al­ sadiqin).” (9:119)
Sidq literally means speaking the truth and being true in one's promises. Here by truthfulness is meant the truthfulness of speech as well as that of intention and resolution (`azm) and fulfillment under all circumstances of the promises made by one.
Siddiq is one who is truthful in all these matters as a matter of habit, and that which is contrary to fact in whatsoever manner, neither itself nor its trace is found in him.
The `ulama' have said that if one is such his dreams too would be true and come true. The verse:
(مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ) رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ...
“(Among the believers are) men who truly fulfill the promise they have made with God” (33:23)
has been revealed concerning them. The truthful have been described as standing in the same rank as the Apostles and the martyrs:
فَأُولَٰئِكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَالصَّالِحِينَ...
“(Whoso obeys God and the Messenger), they are with those unto whom God has shown favour, of the prophets, the truthful, and the martyrs and the righteous, (the best company are they).” (4:69)
And such great prophets as Ibrahim and I'dris have been described as `truthful ones,' with the words:
إِنَّهُ كَانَ صِدِّيقًا نَّبِيًّا
“Indeed, he was a truthful one, a prophet.” (19:41, 19:56)
And concerning others it has been said:
...وَجَعَلْنَا لَهُمْ لِسَانَ صِدْقٍ عَلِيًّا
“(And We bestowed upon them of Our mercy), and assigned to them true and sublime speech.” (19:50)
And since the straight path is the shortest path to the goal, one who walks straight is the most likely to reach his intended destination, God willing.
Section Five: On Penitence (Inabah)
God, the Exalted and the Glorious, has said:
وَأَنِيبُوا إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَأَسْلِمُوا لَهُ...
“Turn unto Him penitent, and surrender unto Him, (before there come to you the chastisement, where after you wilt not be helped).” (39:54)
Inabah means turning to God and attending to Him. It consists of three things. First, turning with one's inner self, so that it is always turned towards God, the Exalted, and to seek nearness to Him in all one's thoughts and intentions, and to this refer the words:
…وَجَاءَ بِقَلْبٍ مُّنِيبٍ
“. . . And comes with a penitent heart.” (50:33)
Second, to attend with one's speech, which means remembering Him and His favours and to remember those who are nearer to Him, as referred to in this verse:
…وَمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ إِلَّا مَن يُنِيبُ
“None pays heed save him who turns penitent (unto Him).” (40:13)
Third, (to turn to Him) in one's outward actions, which means being always watchful of one's acts of obedience and worship.
These must be performed with the intention of seeking nearness, such as the obligatory and the supererogatory prayers, abstaining from things avoided by the leading figures of the faith, giving of charities, showing kindness to God's creatures, procuring the means of their benefit and preventing the causes of their harm, observing of rectitude in dealings, being just in regard to oneself and one's kin, and, in summary, observing the laws of the Shari'ah with the intent of acquiring nearness to God and seeking His good pleasure. Indeed, He, the Exalted, has said:
وَأُزْلِفَتِ الْجَنَّةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ غَيْرَ بَعِيدٍ هَٰذَا مَا تُوعَدُونَ لِكُلِّ أَوَّابٍ حَفِيظٍ مَّنْ خَشِيَ الرَّحْمَٰنَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَجَاءَ بِقَلْبٍ مُّنِيبٍ ادْخُلُوهَا بِسَلَامٍ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ يَوْمُ الْخُلُودِ لَهُم مَّا يَشَاءُونَ فِيهَا وَلَدَيْنَا مَزِيدٌ
“(On the day when . . . ) the paradise is brought nigh for the God fearing, no longer distant. (And it is said): This is that which you were promised. (It is) for every penitent and watchful one, who feareth the Beneficent in secret and comes with a penitent heart. Enter it in peace. This is the day of eternity. There they have all that they desire, and there is more with Us.” (50: 30-35)
Section Six: On Sincerity (Ikhlas)
God, the Glorious and the Exalted, has said:
…وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ
“And they were not commanded except to worship God, keeping religion pure for Him . . . .” (98:5)
Ikhlas in Persian means `vizheh kardan' (`to make exclusive'), that is, to purge a thing of everything else that has mingled with it. That which is meant here is that all of one's speech and action should be for the sake of seeking nearness to God, the Exalted, and exclusively for His sake, without being adulterated with any worldly or otherworldly purpose.
أَلَا لِلَّهِ الدِّينُ الْخَالِصُ...
“Indeed, to God belongs sincere religion.” (39:3)
The opposite of sincerity is that there be some other purpose mingled with it, such as the love of honour and property, good name, or the hope of otherworldly reward, or salvation and deliverance from the chastisement of hell, all of which are signs of shirk.
Shirk isoftwo kinds: open and concealed. Open shirk is idolatry, and all its other forms consist of concealed shirk. The Messenger of God, may God bless him and his Household, has said:
نية الشرك في أمتي أخفى من دبيب النملة السوداء على الصخرة الصماء في الليلة الظلماء
Amongst the people of my Ummah intentions contaminated with shirk are more invisible than the creeping of a black ant on a black rock in a dark night. 4
Shirk is the most destructive obstacle for the seeker of perfection in wayfaring
فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا
“So let him who hopes for the encounter with his Lord, work righteousness, and not include in his Lord's service anyone.” (18:110)
And when the obstacle of concealed shirk is removed, wayfaring (suluk) and attainment (wusul) become easy:
من اخلص لله أربعين صباحا ظهرت ينابيع الحكمة من قلبه على لسانه
If one is sincere to God for forty days, springs of wisdom, emanating from his heart, become manifest in his speech. 5
And safety from sin comes from God.
1. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, ii, 84, Beirut.

2. Ibid, ii, 211.

3. Sunan Ibn Majah, ii, 1413, bab 26, hadith 4227.

4. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, Ixix, 93, Beirut.

5. Ibid., Ixvii, 242.
This chapter consists of six sections:

Section one: on repentance (tawbah).

Section two: on abstinence (zuhd).

Section three: on poverty (Faqr).

Section four: on self-discipline (riyadah).

Section five: on self-scrutiny and watchfulness (muhasabah and muraqabah).

Section six: on Godfearing (taqwa).
Section One: On Repentance
God, the Blessed and the Exalted, has said:
...وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“And repent you unto God together, O believers, in order that you may succeed.” (24:31)
The meaning of tawbah is turning away from sin. One must first know what is sin in order to turn away from it. It should be known that the actions of people are of five kinds:

First, those which must be done and which it is not proper to omit.

Second, those which must not be done and which it is not proper to do.

Third, those are better done than omitted.

Fourth, those which are better omitted than done.

Fifth, those doing or not doing which is equal.

Sin consists of not doing acts of the first kind and committing acts of the second kind, and it is a duty of all sane people to repent on committing all acts of this kind.

And here that which is meant are not only acts of speech and those performed by bodily members but also all acts of thinking, speaking, and acting that are subject to the power and will of every sane person.

As to the omission of acts of the third kind and commission of acts of the fourth, they represent a breach of etiquette (tark-e awla), which is reprehensible for the Infallible Ones (ma'sumun, i.e. the prophets and their awsiya'), and their repentance is for commission of tark-e awla.

For the wayfarers, it is sin to attend to other than God, the Exalted, Who is their cherished goal, and they should repent on perpetrating it.

Hence repentance is of three kinds: the common repentance of the generality of people, the special (khass) repentance of the infallible ones, and the exclusive (akhass) repentance of the people of the path. The repentance of the sinners of the ummah pertains to the first category.

The repentance of Adam, may peace be upon him, and other prophets belongs to the second category. And the repentance of our Messenger, may God bless him and his Household, belongs to the third category, in regard to which he said:
وإنه ليغان على قلبه وإني لأستغفر الله في كل يوم سبعين مرة
Indeed, physical nature casts its shadow upon my heart and I seek God's forgiveness seventy times in a day. 1
As to the repentance of the common people, it depends on two conditions.

The first condition is the knowledge of the various categories of action, as to which action is conducive to the attainment of perfection and which action results in deficiency and loss.

And this perfection varies with different persons; for some it is deliverance from punishment, and for some it is achievement of reward, and for some it is attainment of the Creator's good pleasure and nearness to Him.

The deficiency and loss also varies likewise; either it is liability to punishment, or deprivation from reward, or the displeasure of the Creator and farness from Him, the latter being the state of the accursed.

The second condition is awareness of the benefit that lies in attaining perfection and the good pleasure of God, the Exalted, and the harm in incurring loss and earning His displeasure.

Hence every sensible person who fulfils these two conditions would not sin and would repent should he perpetrate any.

Further, repentance consists of three things, (1) one of which relates to the past, (2) another to the present, and (3) a third to the future.

As to that which relates to the past, it consists of two things. (a) First, remorse for the sin committed by him in the past and regret for it, a regret that is as complete as possible. This kind entails the two other things and that is why it has been said that ????? ???? `Remorse is repentance`. 2

(b) The second thing is to compensate for the past conduct, and this has three aspects.

(i) One of them relates to God, the Exalted, Whom one has disobeyed.

(ii) The second relates to one's own self, which was subjected by one to harm and the displeasure of God, the Exalted.

(iii) The third relates to the other person who has been harmed by one's word or deed, and as long as the other person is not restituted his rights, repentance does not materialize. The restitution of his right can be made either by apologizing or by accepting retributive action, or by doing something which will obtain his satisfaction.

This means actually restituting his right or compensating him, or someone who represents him, for that breached right, or accepting his retributive action, or that of someone who represents him, and bearing the punishment that has been prescribed for that offense.

If the other person is one who has been killed, obtaining the satisfaction of his heirs is also part of the condition, for it is impossible to obtain the satisfaction of that man. If all the other requisites of repentance have been realized one may hope to be absolved in the Hereafter by God, the Exalted, with His all-inclusive mercy.

(ii) As to the rights of one's own self, that has to be compensated for by accepting the prescribed punishment in the world or the Hereafter.

(i) As to the Godward aspect of the matter, its requisites can hopefully be achieved by turning to God with lamentation and tears, and by devoting oneself to worship and austerities after obtaining the satisfaction of the victim and restituting the rights of one's own self.

(2) As to the aspect of repentance that relates to the present, it consists of two things. One of them is to refrain from perpetrating the sin in which one has been engaged for the sake of attaining nearness to God. The second is to make the other victim of the sin secure from one's misconduct and to compensate him for the harm that has been inflicted upon him.

(3) As to the aspect relating to the future, that also consists of two things. One of them is to make a firm resolution not to commit it again, so much so that one would not commit a like sin, either voluntarily or under duress, even if one were to be killed or burnt.

The second is to remain steadfast in that resolve; for it happens that one who resolves on something is not secure against relapse. With the means of pledges and atonements, or some other of the various deterrents to resumption of sin, one should try to remain steadfast in one's resolution. And as long as one is hesitant and there is likelihood of resumption, steadfastness has not been realized.

And in all these matters one's intention should be the attainment of nearness to God and obedience of His commands so that one becomes one of those concerning whom it has been said:
التائب من الذنب كمن لا ذنب له
One who repents for a sin is like one who has not sinned. 3
These are the requisites of the common repentance from sins, and it is about this group that it has been said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا تُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ تَوْبَةً نَّصُوحًا عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمْ أَن يُكَفِّرَ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ...
“O you who believe! Turn unto God in sincere repentance. It may be that your Lord will remit from you your evil deeds . . . “ (66:8)
And also:
إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللَّهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ فَأُولَٰئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ...
“Forgiveness is only incumbent on God towards those who do evil in ignorance (and) then turn quickly (in repentance) to God. These are they toward whom God relents . . .”. (4:17)
And as to the special kind of repentance, which is for commission of tark-e awla, its requisites can be understood from that which has been mentioned in this regard. In this relation it has been said:
لَّقَد تَّابَ اللَّهُ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ وَالْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالْأَنصَارِ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ فِي سَاعَةِ الْعُسْرَةِ...
“God has accepted the repentance of the Prophet, and the Muhajirun and the Ansar who followed him in the hour of hardship ...” (9:117)
As to the exclusive repentance (of the wayfarers), it relates to two things. One of them is repentance for the wayfarer's paying heed to anything other than the cherished goal, and that is why it has been said:
اليمين والشمال مضلتان
Deviance it is (to turn) to the right and the left. 4
the second thing relates to repentance for retreating to a previous stage from which one must have gone forward, or for halting in the present stage, or considering that stage with satisfaction with the aim of halting in .All these are sins for this group, and that is why it has been said:
حسنات الأبرار سيئات المقربين
The merits of the virtuous are vices for the saintly.
They ought to repent for this sin, seek God's forgiveness abstain from persistence, be remorseful for past lapses, and plead in the presence of the Creator, the Exalted, the Holy, and the Pure.
من تاب وأخلص سره لله فالله له
Whoever repents and purifies his soul for the sake of God, God shall be his.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ
“Indeed God loves the repentant and those who take care for purity.” (2:222)
Section Two: On Zuhd
God, the Exalted, says
وَلَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّنْهُمْ زَهْرَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ ۚ وَرِزْقُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ
“Stretch not thine eyes to that We have given pairs of them to enjoy-the flower of the present life, that We may try them therein; and thy Lord's provision is better and more enduring.” (20:131)
Zuhd is the absence of desire and the zahid is someone who is not fond of such mundane things as food and drink, dress and housing, other objects of appetite and pleasure, property and status, good name, proximity to rulers and influence, and every other thing that would depart from him at the time of death.

This absence of love for mundane matters is neither because of incapacity or ignorance about them, nor for any purpose or reward. Someone who has this quality is a zahid in the above mentioned sense.

However, a real zahid is one whose zuhd, as described, is not accompanied even with the hope of deliverance from the chastisement of hell or the reward of paradise, but solely for the sake of restraining his soul after knowing the benefits and consequences of each of these things mentioned.

His zuhd is habitual and is without any trace of greed, hope or expectation, worldly or otherworldly. This quality becomes habitual by means of restraining the soul from seeking pleasures, and by making it accustomed to austerities so that indifference to desire becomes firmly established in it.

In one of the anecdotes of the ascetics it is related that there was a man who had been selling the stew of sheep's head and paludah (a sweet beverage made of starch jelly) for thirty years without ever tasting any of them.

Asked the reason for this austerity, he replied, “When my soul desired these two things, I told it that it would never get any of them if it were to touch any of them. I did that so that it would not incline towards any pleasure whatsoever.”

One who adopts zuhd in the world with the hope of deliverance or reward in the Hereafter is like one who, out of his base disposition, abstains from eating food for days despite great hunger in order to eat to his fill at an expected feast. Or he is like a tradesman who does barter to make a profit out of his merchandise.

In wayfaring, the benefit of zuhd lies in the curtailment of preoccupations, so that the wayfarer is saved from being preoccupied with anything that would keep him from reaching his goal.
Section Three: On Poverty (Faqr)
God, the Exalted, has said:
لَّيْسَ عَلَى الضُّعَفَاءِ وَلَا عَلَى الْمَرْضَىٰ وَلَا عَلَى الَّذِينَ لَا يَجِدُونَ مَا يُنفِقُونَ حَرَجٌ
“Not unto the weak nor unto the sick nor unto those who can find naught to spend is any fault (if they are true to God and His Messenger) . . .”. (9:91)
The faqir is someone without means or someone who has less than his minimum needs. However, in this context 'faqir' is one who has no love of property and mundane things, and if he were to obtain any he is not keen to keep it.
That is not out of ignorance or incapacity or some handicap or negligence, nor for coveting some other advantage.
It is not for the sake of status, for earning a name for being good and generous, nor for fear of the tortures of hell or hope of the rewards of the Hereafter, but due to the need to be free from diversions, which is necessary for attentive wayfaring on the path of Reality and concentrating on the Divine, so that anything that is apart from God, the Exalted, does not become an obstacle in his way. And, in fact, this poverty is a branch of zuhd.
The Prophet, may God bless him and his Household, once said (to his Companions)
ألا أخبركم عن ملوك الجنة؟
“Do you want me to tell you concerning the princes of the people of paradise?”
They replied, “Yes.” Whereupon he said,
كل ضعيف مستضعف أغبر أشعت ذي طمرين لا يؤبه له أقسم على الله لأبره
They are the weakest (of their society dusty, with disheveled hair, putting on two worn out pieces of clothing for dress, but who, nevertheless, were they to swear by God (to do something) would fulfill their oath. 5
And when the Prophet himself was told, “If you wish, We shall fill the Baths and Makkah for you with gold,” he replied,
لا, بل أجوع يوما فاسألك وأشبع يوما فأشكرك
No. Rather would I prefer to pray to Thee when I am hungry and to thank Thee when I satisfy my hunger.
Section Four: On Self-Discipline (Riyadah)
God, the Exalted and the Glorious, has said:
وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَىٰ
“But as for him who fears the Station of his Lord and forbids the soul its caprice, surely Paradise shall be the refuge.” (79:40-41)
'Riyadah' literally means the breaking in of a horse or mule by restraining it from carrying out its undesirable inclinations and habituating it to obey its master and to carry out his purposes.

In the present context, riyadah means restraining the animal soul from following its instincts of Desire and Irascibility and that which is associated with them, and deterring the rational soul from obeying animal instincts and restraining it from vicious dispositions and conduct, such as greed, acquisitiveness, ambition, and their associated characteristics such as cunning, deceit, fraud, backbiting, prejudice, anger, hatred, envy, and vice, and that which takes an evil or some other form, and habituating the human soul to such conduct as would lead it to the perfection it is capable of.

That which follows the faculty of Desire is called the `bestial' (bahimi) soul; that which follow the Irascible faculty is called `predatory' (sabu'i), and that which is habituated to vicious dispositions is called `satanic,' and these are together referred to as the `inciting soul' in the Qur'anic revelation (ammaratun bi al-su', mentioned in 12:53), that is, a soul that incites one to evil should these vices have become permanent in it.

But if they have not become permanent, it would sometimes incline to evil and sometimes to good, and when it inclines to good it would feel remorse and blame itself. Such a soul is called the 'blaming soul' (al-nafs al-lawwamah).

A soul that is submissive to the intellect and habituated to seeking what is good is named the 'contended soul' (al-na f s al-mutma'innah).

The purpose of self-discipline is threefold: First, the removal of obstacles, including outward and inward preoccupations, from the way towards God. Second, the subjugation of the animal soul to the practical intellect, which motivates the quest for perfection.

And third, habituating the human soul to remaining steady in the condition that prepares it for the reception of Divine effusion, so that it may attain to the perfection that is possible for it.
Section Five: On Self-Scrutiny (Muhasabah) and Watchfulness (Muraqabah)
God, the Exalted, has said:
...وَإِن تُبْدُوا مَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوْ تُخْفُوهُ يُحَاسِبْكُم بِهِ اللَّهُ...
“Whether you make known what is in your souls or hide it, God will bring you to account for it.” (2:284)
Muhasabah means taking account, and muraqabah means being watchful. In the present context it means taking account of one's acts of obedience and sinfulness to see which of them are more. If the acts of obedience are more, he should see where these remaining acts of obedience stand in relation to the bounties bestowed upon him by God, the Exalted.
In this regard, first he should consider his own existence and the numerous benefits that relate to the creation of his bodily members. The scholars of anatomy have compiled numerous books describing them to the extent of their understanding, although what they have understood is not even a drop out of an ocean.
He has placed in man's being several benefits relating to his faculties of growth and movement and fashioned numerous subtleties of creation in his soul, which is capable of knowledge and apprehends the intelligibles with its essence, perceives the perceptible, and governs the body's functions and organs.
He has ordained his sustenance from the beginning of creation and fashioned the means of his growth and development all the way from the highest to the lowest planes.
Hence, if one were to compare his extra acts of obedience with these above-mentioned bounties and other innumerable bounties besides them, concerning which He has stated:
وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا
“. . and if you count the bounty of God, you shall not be able to reckon it . . .” (14:34)
he would come to realize his own nonfeasance under all circumstances.
And if his acts of obedience and sins be equal, he should know that he hasn't performed any act of service in return for these bounties and his nonfeasance is all the more evident.
And should the extent of his sins be preponderant, woe to him! Woe to him!
Hence whenever the seeker of perfection takes this account of himself, nothing except obedience will come out of him and he would consider himself at default even if he were to do nothing but obey, and this is why it has been said:
حاسبوا أنفسكم قبل أن تحاسبوا
Take any account of yourselves before you are called to give account. 6
And if one does not take one's own account and continues to remain in sinfulness, he will encounter the day when he will be subjected to reckoning in accordance with (the Qur'anic statement):
وَإِن كَانَ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ أَتَيْنَا بِهَا ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِنَا حَاسِبِينَ
“(And We set a just balance for the Day of Resurrection so that no soul is wronged in aught). Though it be of the weight of a grain of mustard seed, We shall bring it. And We suffice as reckoners” (21:47)
and face painful chastisement and great loss when
...وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ...
“. . . nor will intercession be accepted from it, nor will compensation be received from it ...”(2:48)
May God save us from that.
As to muraqabah, that consists of being watchful over one's outward and inner being so that one does not perpetrate anything that would annul his good works. That is, one should constantly be watchful over one's states so that one does not fall into sin, open or secret, and so that any preoccupation, significant or trivial, does not keep him from journeying on the path of Truth. He should always keep this verse in his mind:
وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ فَاحْذَرُوهُ
“. . . know that God knows what is in your souls, so beware of Him . . . .” (2:235)
until he reaches his sought destination. And God grants success to any of His servants that He wishes, and He is'All-Subtle and All-knowing.
Section Six: On Godfearing (Taqwa)
God, the Glorious and the Almighty, has said:
 إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ
“Verily, the more honoured amongst you in God's sight is the one who is more Godfearing amongst you.” (49:13)
Taqwa' means refraining from sin with the fear of God's displeasure and drifting away from Him. In the same way as a sick person seeking health, in order to achieve health and cure his disease, has to refrain from what is harmful for him and would exacerbate his sickness, so also a deficient being in the quest of perfection should avoid everything that is contrary to perfection or an obstacle in its way, or which would divert its attention from wayfaring on the path of perfection, in order that that which is essential or conducive to wayfaring be beneficial and effective:
وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجًا وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ
“And whosoever fears God, God will appoint a way out for him, and will provide for him from whence he has no expectation.” (65:3)
in reality, taqwa consists of three things: one is fear, the second is avoidance of sins, and the third is the desire for attaining nearness to God.
Each of these three will be fully explained in its proper place in this brief treatise. That which has been said in the (Qur'anic) Revelation and the traditions concerning taqwa and in the praise of the muttaqun (Godfearing) far exceeds what can be mentioned in this brief discourse. And the end of all goals is the love of the Exalted Maker.
بَلَىٰ مَنْ أَوْفَىٰ بِعَهْدِهِ وَاتَّقَىٰ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ
“Nay, but (the chosen of God) is he who fulfils his pledge and fears God; indeed, God loves the God fearing.” (3:76) 
1. Sahih Muslim, iv, 2075.

2. Al-Majlisi, al-Bihar, Ixxiv,159.

3. Al- Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, ii, 435.

4. Nahj al-balaghah, khutbah 16, p. 50, ed. by Muhammad `Abduh.

5. Sunan Ibn Majah, ii, 1378; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, v, 407.

6. Al-Majlisi, al-Bihar, Ixvii, 73.
This chapter consists of six sections:

Section one: on solitude (khalwah)

Section two: on contemplation (tafakkur)

Section three: on fear (khawf)

Section four: on-hope (raja')

Section five: on patience (sabr)

Section six: on thankfulness (shukr)
Section One: On Solitude
God, the Exalted, says:
وَذَرِ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا دِينَهُمْ لَعِبًا وَلَهْوًا وَغَرَّتْهُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا
“And leave alone those who take their religion for a pastime and a jest, and whom the life of the world has deceived ...” (6:70)

In the sciences of reality it has been established that every being that has the preparedness to receive Divine effusion (fayd-e ilahi) cannot be deprived of it when the preparedness exists and any obstacles are absent. However, one can seek the benefit of Divine effusion only when one knows two things.

First, one should have convinced belief and a faith free of doubt in the existence of that effusion. Secondly, he should know that the existence of this effusion in every being will lead to its perfection.

The knowledge of these two matters is at all times an essential part of preparedness for receiving that effusion.

Now that this preliminary fact is known, it may be stated that the seeker of perfection, after acquiring preparedness, is now obliged to remove the obstacles. The biggest of these obstacles are the unnecessary engagements that direct the soul's attention toward other-than-God and keep it from attending fully to its real goal.

These preoccupations pertain either to the external senses, or the inner perceptual faculties, or some of the vital faculties, or illusory thoughts (afkar-e majazi, as opposed to waridat-e haqiqi, mentioned hereafter).

As to the outer senses, their preoccupation lies in infatuation with viewing attractive forms and shapes, listening to harmonious sounds and [pursuing] other objects of smelt, taste and touch.

As to the inner perceptual faculties, their preoccupation lies in imagining forms and states that absorb attention.

It may be an imaginary love, or enmity, an exaggerated delight or an underscored loss, an imagined order or disorder, or some memory of a past condition, or the thought of some object of desire, such as wealth and status.

As to the vital faculties their preoccupation may be caused by grief, fear, jealousy, or shame, anger or lust, or some treachery, an expected pleasure, or the hope of overpowering some enemy or avoiding something painful.

As to illusory thoughts, preoccupation with them lies in reflecting on insignificant matters, or devoting oneself to some non-beneficial science or anything preoccupation with which keeps one from one's desired goal.

Khalwah means the avoidance of all these obstacles. Hence one seeking khalwah should try to be free of inward and outward sensory preoccupations and to discipline his animal faculties, so that they don't divert him toward things which, being compatible with these faculties, prompt him to avoid that which is not attuned to them.

He should refrain totally from illusory thoughts, which are thoughts whose goal is attainment of good things of the life of the world and the Hereafter. The good things of worldly life are ephemeral, and as to the goods of the Hereafter, their goal is the attainment of lasting pleasures for the ego seeking them.

After removing the outer obstacles and freeing the inner self from preoccupation with anything other than Allah, one should direct all his concern and his undivided intention to being watchful over the happenings of the Unseen' (sawanih ghaybi) and being vigilant over real intuitions (waridat-e haqiqi). That is called contemplation (tafakkur), which shall be dealt with in a separate section which follows.
Section Two: On Contemplation
God, the Exalted and the Glorious, says:
أَوَلَمْ يَتَفَكَّرُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِم ۗ مَّا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ
“Haven't they pondered within themselves? God created not the heavens and the earth, and that which is between them, except with the Truth... ?” (30:8)
Although many meanings have been ascribed to [the term] tafakkur, their essence is that contemplation is an inward journey of humanity from the preliminaries (mabadi) to the goals (maqasid). The same sense is ascribed to nazar in the terminology of scholars.
None can make the transition from deficiency to perfection without undertaking this journey, and hence it has been said that the most essential of obligations is contemplation and thought. The instances of encouragement given to contemplation in the [Qur'anic] Revelation are countless:
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
“And in that are signs for a people who think.” (13:3)
And it has been stated in hadith:
تفكر ساعة خير من عبادة سبعين سنة
An hour's contemplation is better than seventy years of worship. 1
One should know that the starting point from where this journey should commence are 'the horizons and the souls' (afaqq wa anfus; 41:53). It is a rational journey (sayr-e istidlali: lit. 'evidence-seeking journey&

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