Imam Ali's Views on Monotheism
- :Shahid Mutahhari
One of the basic foundational teachings of the prophets is monotheism. Furthermore, all teachings of the prophets included the act of worshipping. However, people treat worshipping differently.
Some people think that worshipping is a kind of transaction, compensation, and exchanging work with reward. This view of worship is similar in that just as a laborer puts his energy to work for his employer to earn his wage at the end of the day, a worshipper that worships the Allah almighty expects an earning wage, a reward. This of course will be given to him in the hereafter. These people believe that the advantage of worshipping is just the reward, namely the goods they will receive in the other world. Worship for them constitutes only the physical performances of the body during worship.
The other view of worship is the spiritual view. This view is different from the previous in which there was an employee-employer relationship. In the spiritual view worship is not a property to be traded; rather it is a tool in reaching the means of proximity to the creator. Worship becomes an ascent of the soul, elevation of the spirit towards the invisible center of the universe, nurture of the spiritual talents, spirit’s victory over the body, the best way to praise the creator of the universe, and finally a way to move closer towards the Allah (SWT).
Imam Ali’s (A.S.) view of worship is similar to the spiritual view. In fact the source of the spiritual worship, after the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s Sunnah, comes from the sayings and worships of Imam Ali (A.S.). We can see examples of his sayings in this regard in the famous book of Nahj al-Balaghah, a book of letters, sermons, and sayings by Imam Ali (A.S.).
“There are people who worship Allah to gain His Favors, this is the worship of traders; while there are some who worship Him to keep themselves free from His Wrath, this is the worship of slaves; a few who obey Him out of their sense of gratitude and obligations, this is the worship of free and noble men.”¹
“Even if Allah had not warned of chastisement on those disobedient to Him, it would be obligatory by way of gratefulness for His favors that He should not be disobeyed.”²
I did not worship You for the fear of chastisement or for the desire towards heaven; rather, I worshiped You because I found You worthy of being worshipped.”³
1. Nahj al-Balaghah, short sayings of Imam Ali (A.S.), Hikmat 238
2. Nahj al-Balaghah, short sayings of Imam Ali (A.S.), Hikmat 290
3. Bihar al-Anwar, V. 41, P. 14
(Selected from “A Contemplation through Nahj al-Balaghah”, by Murtadha Mutahhari)
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