Rafed English

Lubb al-Lubab (The Kernels of Kernels) - A Short Treatise on Wayfaring

Lubb al-Lubab (The Kernels of Kernels) - A Short Treatise on Wayfaring by : S. M. Husayn Husayni Tehrani


بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِِ

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

May the choicest of blessings be upon the immaculate spirit of the Apostle
of the ultimate era, Muhammad al-Mustafa, and his noble wasi (legatee)
and the possessor of the greatest wilayah, 'Ali al-Murtada, and his glorious
descendants, the Pure Imams, especially the Pole of the contingent realms,
the Baqiyatullah and the Hujjah, son of al-Hasan al-‘Askari, arwahuna lahu al-fida.

The religious urge and the appeal of the realms of the Hidden (ghayb) and the quest for the mysteries of that which lies beyond the natural realm are part of the innate instincts of the human being. This urge may be considered as arising due to the attraction of the contingent world, especially the human being, its noblest existent, towards the loving Lord, who draws it towards His own infinite and absolute station. The magnet that draws the soul is that very Soul of souls, which is referred to variously as the Beloved (janan), the Reality of all realities, the Eternal Principle, the Mainspring of Beauty, the Source of Being, and the Ultimate Perfection.
الكُلُّ عِبارةٌ وأنتَ المَعْنَي‌        يا مَن‌ هُوَلِلقُلوبِ مِغْناطِيسُ
The universe is a writ and Thou art its meaning,
Thou! Who art the magnet of the hearts1.
The effect of this real magnetic pull is to break the bondage of nature, permitting one to transcend the ego and set out toward the realm of immaterial and absolute reality, and, ultimately, toward annihilation (fana') in the Act, Name, Attribute, and Essence of the Sacred Source of sources and End of ends and life (baqa') in the Being of the Worshipped One. This pull is more sublime and subtle than anything that can be conceived.
جَذْبَةٌ مِنْ جَذَبَاتِ الرَّحْمَنِ تُوازِي‌ عِبَادَةَ الثَّقَلَيْن
An attraction of the All‑Beneficent equals the worship of all men and jinn.
Man discovers this attraction towards this cynosure of all quest and the end of all worship and aspiration at the core of his essence and innate nature, and, as a result of this innate divine urge, he sets out on a journey towards it, being drawn toward this destination with all his being. Therefore, in the course of this journey, all his members and organs must participate in this movement.

His body and corporeal faculties, which constitute his physical nature (tab'); his mind and imagination, which constitute his imaginable realm (barzakh); and his intellect and spirit, which constitute his reality-all of them should participate in this journey and share in its effort.

The body should face the Ka'bah in the state of prayer and assume the postures of qiyam (standing), ruku' (kneeling), and sujud (prostration); the mind, shutting out its thoughts, should pin its attention on the Farthest Lote Tree (sidrat al-muntaha); the spirit should bathe in the lights of Divine sanctity and lose and abandon itself in the sanctuary of the One.

It is here that one finds how far from the real goal, and how cut off from the vision of His Beauty are those who preoccupy themselves solely with the outward, confining themselves to bodily movements in respect of worship and good conduct, and are satisfied with the crest, foregoing the kernel and the essence.

Similarly, those who are solely after spirituality and who evade the rites of worship and good conduct as prescribed by the Shari'ah, are far from the reality. They are content with the metaphorical, having abandoned the literal, and with fancies and fantasies, while missing the real.

Is it not the case that the light of God pervades all manifestations of the realm of contingency? If so, why should the body be excluded from worship, and why should this world of particularity be considered devoid of the rays of Divine effulgence, and why should we confine ourselves to such terms as communion (wusul), kernel (lubb), essence, and inner worship? Would that not be a one-sided worship?

However, ‘the middle position' (al-namaf al-awsat) and ‘the median community' (ummat wasat) are represented by those who combine within themselves the outward and the inward and who have summoned all the levels and planes of their being to the worship of the Beloved and submission to Him, having equipped themselves adequately for the journey of the spirit.

They have taken the exoteric as the designation for the inward and the inward as the soul and reality of the outward, mingling them with each other as sugar and milk. To them, the outward is the means for attaining to the inward, and they consider an inward devoid of the outward as

"dust scattered" (haba'an manthura; 25:23).
اللَهُمَّ نَوِّرْ ظَاهِرِي‌ بِطَاعَتِكَ، وَبَاطِنِي‌ بِمَحَبَّتِكَ، وقَلْبِي‌ بِمَعْرِفَتِكَ، وَرُوحِي‌ بِمُشَاهَدَتِكَ، وَسِرِّي‌ بِاسْتِقْلاَلِ اتِّصَالِ حَضْرَتِكَ، يَا ذَا الْجَلاَلِ وَالإكْرَام
My God, illumine my outward being with obedience to Thee and my inner being with Thy Love, my heart with knowledge of Thee, my spirit with Thy vision, and my inmost being (sirr) with the independence of attachment to Thy Threshold, O Lord of Majesty and Munificence2.
From this it becomes clear that for spiritual development and for ascent through the degrees and stairs of human perfection it is not sufficient, by any mean whatsoever, to confine oneself to the mental and contemplative divine sciences such as the study of philosophy. That is because deductive and syllogistic reasoning offers the mind convincing conclusions based on sound logic and valid premises, but it does not satisfy the heart and the spirit and it does not quench the spirit's thirst for attaining the truths and intuiting the subtleties.

It is true that hikmah and philosophy have sound foundations and they constitute the noblest of the contemplative sciences, which have established tawhid (the Unity of Being) on the basis of reason and closed the way to any kind of doubt or uncertainty.

And it is on this basis that the Glorious Qur'an and the traditions narrated from those firmly grounded in wisdom and faith-that is, the Immaculate Imams, who are the keepers of prophesy and revelation-have prescribed thought and intellection and have advanced logical arguments and proofs based on rational premises. Yet it is quite insufficient to confine oneself to a philosophical and rational tawhid as conceived by the rational approach, but which is devoid of the submission of the heart and inner consciousness and lacks the vision of the inward.

To let the heart languish and to deprive the inner self of its spiritual nourishment derived from the realms of the Hidden and to shut off the malakuti lights of Divine Beauty and Glory, contenting oneself with cruising through books, libraries, schools of thought, teaching and learning, even at the highest level, amounts to nourishing only a part of one's being while allowing a higher part and organ to languish without nourishment. The right creed, the straight path, is one which observes both the aspects and completes the human being's hidden potentialities and capacities in each of the two aspects.

On the one hand, it encourages thought and contemplation, and, on the other, requires one to cultivate sincerity of the heart and its purification from the obfuscation of carnal appetites, to find peace, contentment and tranquillity of the heart, and, after pronouncing eleven tremendous and majestic oaths, declares:
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا
Whoever purifies it finds deliverance, and whoever corrupts it loses. (91:9‑10)
See, how these Qur'anic verses, which address the human soul and speak to man's inner self, summon individuals,, from among thinkers, scholars and teachers of philosophy and ratiocination, to servitude, self‑vigilance (muraqabah) and self‑scrutiny (muhasabah), so that, by working sincerely and exclusively for God's pleasure‑in the words of the Messenger of God‑the springs of Divine teaching may sprout forth from the inner source of their heart and flow out to their tongues:
مَنْ أَخْلَصَ لِلَّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ صَبَاحَاً ظَهَرَتْ يَنَابِيعُ الحِكْمَةِ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ إلَي‌ لِسَانِه
Whoever dedicates himself to God for forty days, will find springs of wisdom sprout out of his heart and flow toward his tongue3.
So that, ultimately, the deluge of inspired thoughts and Divine intuitions (waridat) may pour out from the core of their being.
The pride of the philosophers of the East, or rather of the world, Sadr al‑Muta'allihin Shirazi, after spending a lifetime in transcendental philosophy (al‑hikmat al‑muta'aliyah), became finally so absorbed in worship and servitude and the purification of the inward and the inmost being that he declares in his vigorous style:
وإنّي‌ لاَستَغفِرُ اللَهَ كثيراً ممّا ضَيَّعتُ شَطراً من‌ عُمري‌ في‌ تَتَبُّعِ آراءِ المُتَفَلسِفةِ والمُجادِلينَ من‌ أهلِ الكلامِ وتدقيقاتِهِم‌ وتَعَلُّمِ جُرْبُزَتِهِم‌ في‌ القولِ وتفنُّنِهم‌ في‌ البحثِ حتَّي‌ تَبَيَّنَ لي‌ آخِرَ الامرِ بنورِ الإيمانِ وتأييدِ اللَهِ المنَّانِ أنَّ قياسَهُم‌ عقيمٌ وصراطَهُم‌ غيرُ مستقيم‌؛ فألقَينا زِمامَ أَمرِنا إليهِ وإلی ‌ رسولهِ النَّذيرِ، فكلُّ ما بَلَغَنا منهُ آمَنَّا به‌ وصَدَّقناهُ ولم‌ نَحْتَلْ أَنْ نُخَيِّلَ له‌ وجهاً عقليّاً ومسلكاً بحثيّاً، بلِ اقْتَدَينا بِهُداهُ وانْتَهينا بِنَهْيِهِ امْتِثالاً لقولِه‌ تعالي‌ :( مَا ءَاتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا) حتَّي‌ فتحَ اللَهُ علی‌ قلبِنا ما فَتَح‌ فَأفْلَحَ ببركةِ متابعتِه‌ وأَنجَح‌
Indeed, I seek profuse pardons of God for having wasted a part of my life studying the opinions of the pseudo‑philosophers and polemicists from among the theologians and their hair‑splitting discussions, learning their clever tactics of speech and their arts of debate, until at last with the light of faith and the assistance of God, the Munificent, it became clear to me that their syllogisms were barren and their path devoid of straightness.
Thereafter I surrendered my affair to Him and His Messenger, the warner and the warned, putting faith in all that had reached us from him, confirming it without making any attempt to find some rational justification or a scientific interpretation for it. Rather, I followed his guidance, refraining from what he had forbidden from and submitting to the statement of God, the Exalted:
وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا
"Take whatever the Messenger brings you and refrain from what he forbids you from" (59:7),
Until God opened my heart to what he opened it and it was delivered and saved with the blessing of following him (i.e. the Messenger). (Mulla Sadra, al-Asfar al­ arba'ah, "Introduction").

One must mention in this context, the best and the sublimest of the divine legists, the divine sage and gnostic at the head of the previous century, the Sign of Truth, Akhund Mawla Husaynquli Hamadani.

This great legist, a rare thinker and an august philosopher, had incorporated all these true sciences in the light of the science of gnosis and self-refinement, and had fused all of them in the lights of the Divine Face, assigning to every science its appropriate plane and place, specifying the ultimate goal as attainment to the Divine sanctuary.

He had trained many disciples and offered them to the world of gnosis, each of whom became a shining star on the firmament of human excellence and tawhid, illuminating a whole world within the reach of his vision and insight. Among them was the divine gnostic Aqa Sayyid Ahmad Tehrani Karbala'i and his disciple, the pride of the legists and the pearl of the gnostics, Hajj Mirza ‘Ali Aqa Qadi, may God elevate their noble stations.

The pride of the exegetes and the authority of the researchers, our revered teacher Hadrat ‘Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i, may God prolong his ennobling presence, had from the first days of life been on the flight with the two wings of knowledge and action and had traversed the path, both in philosophy as well as in gnosis, under the tutelage of marhum Qadi.

Yet after spending a part of his life in syllogistic arguments, proofs and rhetoric and devoting himself to the advancement of the intellectual disciplines pertaining to the Isharat, the Shifa' and the Asfar and writing glosses on them, while at the same time devoting himself to inner solitudes and Divine mysteries and gnostic vigilance, ultimately he came to settle down at the sacred threshold of the Qur'an.

With him the study of Qur'anic verses, their contemplation and recitation, their interpretation and analysis, were a higher occupation than any other contemplative activity, and their contemplation was for him more delightful than any discursive reasoning, as if he had given up everything except total subjection and surrender to the Author of the majestic Shari’ah and his honoured successors (awsiya').

Our honoured friend and eminent master, kinder than any brother, the marhum Ayatullah Shaykh Murtada Mutahhari, may God's good pleasure be with him, with whom my terms of familiarity exceeded thirty-five years, after spending a lifetime in study and debate, teaching and lecturing, writing and sermonizing, and in the pursuit of research and investigation on the issues of philosophy with his brilliant mind and critical acumen, finally, in the last few years of his life, perceived that one cannot find mental peace and the tranquillity of the spirit without union with the inner self and connection with the Munificent Lord and without appeasing one's thirsty heart at the mainspring of Divine effusion and without it one can never enter the sacred sanctuary of God, or go about it, and reach the sought Ka'bah.

And he entered this track, like a candle that burns perpetually and dissolves, or like a moth that flings itself into the fire, or like a man of commitment and faith, passionate and ardent, who is annihilated in the shore less ocean of the Essence, Attributes and Names of the Worshipped One and whose being grows drawing on the infinitude of the Divine Being.

Night vigils, lamentations and intimate invocations in the solitude of dawn, immersion in contemplation and remembrance, studious devotion to the Qur'an, and distancing oneself from the worldly lot and the devotees of desire, to join the people of God and the awliya' of the Lord-these were visible in his wayfaring, may God's expansive mercy be upon him:
لِمِثْلِ هَذَا فَلْيَعْمَلْ الْعَامِلُونَ
And for the like of this let the workers toil! (37:61)
إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَواْ وَّالَّذِينَ هُم مُّحْسِنُونَ
Indeed God is with those who are wary of Him and those who are good‑doers. (16:128)
Some days ago this nondescript was asked to write something on the occasion of the anniversary of his martyrdom. This nondescript, who in truth considered himself unequal to the task, had offered apologies for his inability to accept such an assignment on account of his preoccupations.
Lately, when the demand became persistent and the spirit of that honoured friend came to my assistance, I wrote down these passages annexing them as introduction to a treatise that I had written on wayfaring, making it available, for the pleasure of that marhum's spirit, to the seekers of the Truth and the wayfarers of the paths of Peace and the way of Reality, in Whose hands are the reins of all affairs and it is His help that I seek.
As to its origin, this treatise is the essence and gist of the first round of lectures on ethics and gnosis delivered by our revered teacher, ‘Allamah Tabataba'i, may my spirit be ransomed for him, in the years 1368‑69 H. (1949‑50) in the sacred hawzah ‘ilmiyyah of Qum for the students of religious studies. This nondescript had written down a review of those lessons and to me its perusal was a source of spiritual illumination and consolation during times of constraint, darkness, and fatigue.
Now that it has been made ready after a revision and with some additions and clarifications, I dedicate its spiritual reward to the spirit of that felicitous friend, the late Mutahhari, may God elevate his noble station.
اللَهُمَّ احْشُرْهُ مَعَ أَوْلِيَائِكَ المُقَرَّبِينَ، وَاخْلُف‌ عَلَي‌ عَقِبِهِ فِي‌ الغَابِرِينَ وَاجْعَلْهُ مِنْ رُفَقَاءِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِهِ الطَّاهِرِينَ، وَارْحَمْهُ وإيَّانَا بِرَحْمَتِكَ يَا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ.
O God, gather him with Your intimate awliya' and be his successor in taking care of those who tarry back, and make him among the companions of Muhammad and his immaculate Household, and be merciful to him, and us, for the sake of Your mercy, O the Most Merciful of the merciful ones!
1. Sabzawari, Manzurnah, "Ilahiyyat," "fi af'alihi ta'ala," "ghurar fi anha' taqsimat li fi'l Allah ta'ala," Nasiri edition, p.183

2. These sentences are cited from a supplication attributed to Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali ('a) expounded by Hajj Mawla Kabutar-ahangi and has been published in a pocket-size edition, and Fayd Kashani mentions it in his Kalimat al-maknunah (lithographed edition), p. 61 with the words, "and it has been mentioned in their (i.e. of the Imams) supplications, may Peace be upon them ..."

3. This sacred tradition has been narrated from the Messenger of God through several chains of authorities with variant wordings but with the same meaning. It is cited in Ihya' al-'ulum, iv, 322 and its gloss on p.191, and in the 'Awarif al-ma'arif published on the margins of Ihya' al-'ulum, ii, 265.

Among Shi’i books it is cited in 'Uyun akhbar al-Rida, p. 258, 'Uddat al-da'i, p.170, and Usul al-Kafi, ii, 16. The tradition is cited in the 'Uyun, with the author's chain of authorities, from Hadrat Imam al-Rida, may Peace be upon him, from his father, from his grandfather, from Hadrat Muhammad ibn 'Ali al-Baqir, from his father, Hadrat Sajjad, from Jabir ibn'Abd Allah al-Ansari, from Amir al-Mu'minin, may Peace be upon him, with the following wording

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَهِ صَلَّي‌ اللَهُ عَلَيهِ وَآلِهِ : مَا أَخْلَصَ عَبْدٌ لِلَّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ صَبَاحَاً إلاَّ جَرَتْ يَنَابِيعُ الحِكْمَةِ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ عَلَي‌ لِسَانِهِ
بِسْمِ اللَهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَصَلَّي‌ اللَهُ عَلَي‌ مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِهِ الطَّاهِرِينَ
ولَعْنَةُ اللَهِ عَلَي‌ أَعْدَائِهِمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
In the Name of Allah, the All‑Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
May God's blessings be upon Muhammad and his immaculate Household,
and may God's curse be upon all their enemies.
God, Exalted and Almighty, has said:
سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَتَّى يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ أَلَا إِنَّهُمْ فِي مِرْيَةٍ مِّن لِّقَاء رَبِّهِمْ أَلَا إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّحِيطٌ
We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves, till it is clear to them that it is the truth. Suffices it not, by thy Lord, that He is witness over everything? Indeed they are in doubt about the meeting with their Lord. Indeed He encompasses everything. (41:53‑54)
چه‌ مبارك‌ سحري‌ بود وچه‌ فرخنده‌ شبي‌
آن‌ شب‌ قدر كه‌ اين‌ تازه‌ براتم‌ دادند
بي‌ خود از شعشعة‌ پرتو ذاتم‌ كردند
باده‌ از جام‌ تجلّي‌ صفاتم‌ دادند
A blessed dawn! An auspicious night!
The night of destiny, when I was granted this pardon.
I was made besides myself, by the beams of the lights of the Essence,
And offered the cup of the Attributes' revelation.
The materialistic human being dwells in the dark wilderness of materialism, helpless in the midst of the shoreless sea of appetites and pluralities. Every moment he is knocked around by the waves of material attachments. Before he can recover his balance and pull himself up after being struck down by a wave, he is knocked down by another, a more fearsome and terrible wave arising from attachment to wealth, money, wife and children. These waves, with their perpetual assaults, draw him into the dark depths of this fearsome ocean and his cries and laments are drowned in the uproar of its waves.
Wherever he looks around, he is threatened and intimidated by deprivation and regret, which are inalienable effects of transient matter.
In this midst, he is occasionally fondled by the draughts of an enlivening and refreshing breeze called jadhbah an attraction towards the Divine , and he feels as if this kindly breeze were trying to lead him in a certain direction and towards some goal. This breeze is not continuous; it comes only once in a while.
وَإنَّ لِرَبِّكُمْ فِي‌ أَيَّامِ دَهْرِكُمْ نَفَحَاتٍ أَلاَ فَتَعَرَّضُوا لَهَا وَلاَ تُعْرِضُوا عَنْهَا
Indeed, during the course of your life you will come across wafts of breeze from your Lord. (When they blow), expose yourself to them and do not avoid them.
In such moments, the seeker of God takes on a new life and, under the influence of that divine jadhbah, resolves to cross the world of plurality and to set out on this journey in any manner that he can and to rescue himself from this tormenting and perilous tumult. This journey is called wayfaring (sayr wa suluk) in the terminology of the gnostics (‘urafa').
Sulukmeans travelling along a path, and sayr means watching the spectacle and features of the stages and phases encountered on the way.
The provisions (zad) required for this spiritual journey consist of the efforts and austerities undertaken to discipline the soul. As it is very difficult to detach oneself from corporeal attachments, one can depart from the world of corporeal nature (‘alam al-tab) by gradually cutting off the binding chains of the world of plurality.
One has not yet recovered from the weariness of this journey when he enters the realm of barzakh, which is the world of psychic multiplicity (katharat al-anfusiyyah). Here, he clearly observes the riches stocked by matter and external pluralities within the precincts of his physical nature. These are the same imaginable psychic entities that came into being as a result of encounter with and attachment to external pluralities and they are considered part of their effects, products, and fruits.
These thoughts become an obstacle to his journey and they take away his peace of mind, and when the wayfarer (salik) wishes to take repose in the remembrance of God, all of a sudden they besiege him like a deluge that threatens to destroy him.
جان‌ همه‌ روز از لگد كوب‌ خيال‌
وز زيان‌ وسود واز بيم‌ زوال‌
ني‌ صفا مي ‌ماندش‌ ني‌ لطف‌ وفرّ
ني‌ به‌ سوي‌ آسمان‌ راه‌ سفر
The soul, trampled all day by thoughts,
Of fears of downfall, profit and loss,
And left neither with tranquillity, nor dignity, nor charm,
Nor of a heavenward journey any contrivance.
It is obvious that the harm and trouble caused by the psychic pluralities is stronger and more powerful than that of external pluralities. For one can save oneself from the disturbance and onslaught of external pluralities by exercising free will and through isolation and seclusion, but certainly one cannot avoid the trouble of nafsani thoughts1 by this means, as they accompany one closely and intimately.

The wayfarer on the path of God and the way of sincerity and servitude is not deterred by these enemies. He makes his resolve and with that sacred provision pursues the way to his destination, leaving behind the realm of thoughts arising from his psyche, which is called ‘Barzakh' (the intermediate realm).

However, the wayfarer must be very vigilant and careful lest there remain any of these thoughts in the corners of the heart. That is because it is characteristic of these imaginable entities to conceal themselves at the time of their expulsion in some hidden corner of the heart, so that the wayfarer imagines that he has got rid of their evil and has been relieved of all remnants of the realm of Barzakh.

But when the traveller reaches the spring of life in order to be appeasing his thirst from the waters of the fountains of wisdom, all of a sudden they assault him and finish him off with the weapons of oppression and tyranny.

The parable of such a wayfarer is that of one who has filled a pool in his house with water. And as he does not use it for some time, all the impurities and dirt that it contains settle down at the bottom. However, when the water becomes clear and he imagines its clarity and purity to be enduring, as soon he enters it or wishes to wash something in its water all the dirt and sediment soil the clear water again and its black spots reappear on the surface.

Therefore, the wayfarer must have obtained such mental poise through exercises and self-discipline that the offspring of imagination are reduced to fossils and are unable to disturb his mind at the time of concentrating on the Worshipped One.

When the wayfarer passes through the realms of corporeal nature and Barzakh, he enters the world of the spirit, and then passes through certain stages whose detailed description will come later, God willing.

But to put it briefly, the wayfarer, with Divine succour, having witnessed his own self and the Divine Attributes and Names, gradually reaches the stage of total annihilation (fana' kulli) and, thereafter, the station of life in God (baqa'), whereat eternal life becomes established for him.
هرگز نميرد آنكه‌ دلش‌ زنده‌ شد به‌ عشق‌
ثبت‌ است‌ بر جريدة‌ عالم‌ دوام‌ ما
Never dies one whose hearts has been quickened by love,
Inscribed is our immortality on the world's tablet.
This principle is confirmed as a result of reflection and contemplation on the noble verses of the Qur'an. God says in one place in the Glorious Qur'an that the wayfarers martyred in God's way are immortal and that they never die:
وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاء عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ
Don't regard those who are killed in God's way as dead; nay, they are alive and they receive their sustenance near their Lord. (3:169)
Elsewhere He states that
…َ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلَّا وَجْهَهُ …
Everything is fated to perish save the Face of the Lord (28:88)
And at another place He says:
مَا عِندَكُمْ يَنفَدُ وَمَا عِندَ اللّهِ بَاقٍ …
"Everything that is near the Lord is everlasting...” (16:96)
By putting these verses together side by side one comes to know that those who are alive and receive their sustenance and livelihood near their Lord are the ones referred to as the ‘Face of Allah', who, as affirmed by explicit Qur'anic verses, are not subject to destruction and dissolution.
Moreover, one comes to know from the noble verses of the Qur'an that that which is meant by the indestructible Face of God, the Exalted, are the Divine Names (asma'ullah).
To explain, in another verse this ‘Face of God,' which is imperishable and indestructible, has been interpreted as constituting the Divine Names, which are given the attributes of majesty and glory:
كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ
All that is in it shall perish, but the Face of thy Lord, possessing Glory and Majesty, shall endure. (55:26‑27)
All the exegetes of the Qur'an are unanimous that the word dhu (possessing) is the adjective for wajh (face). Accordingly, the verse means: ‘the Face of your Lord, which possesses Glory and Majesty, is everlasting.' As we know, the ‘face' of everything is that wherewith one comes to face towards it.

Hence the ‘face' of every thing is that which manifests it (mazhar), and the ‘manifestations' are the very Names of God wherewith all creatures face God. The conclusion that follows is that all existents are subject to annihilation and dissolution excepts the Names of Divine Majesty and Beauty. It follows from this that the wayfarers towards God who attain the felicitous station of ‘nay, they are alive, and they receive their sustenance near their Lord constitute the Names of Majesty and Beauty of the Lord, Almighty and Exalted.

From this, the meaning of the statement of the Immaculate Imams-may God's Peace be upon them-who declared ‘Nahnu asma'ullah' (‘We are the Names of God') becomes clear. Or else the exoteric station of outward authority over the community and their role of mediation in respect of the matters of the Shari'ah and the exoteric divine laws is not something that could be described by them in this manner.

Rather, it means the same f and' and annihilation in the Essence of the One (dhat-a ahadiyyat), which is implied in their being the ‘wajhullah,' the ‘face' of God, and complete manifestation of His Attributes of Majesty and Beauty-something which is not comparable to any station or office.
Essentials of Wayfaring and Suluk
One of the most important things which is one of the essentials of wayfaring and suluk is muraqabah, contemplative self-vigilance.

From the first step that he takes on the Path until the last step, the wayfarer should not be devoid of muraqabah. This is one of the definite principles of wayfaring. It should be known that muraqabah consists of various degrees and levels. During the first stages the wayfarer has one kind of muraqabah while his muraqabah at the other stages is of another kind.

The further he advances towards perfection and traverses the stages and phases, his muraqabah becomes more precise and profound, so that if those degrees of muraqabah were to be imposed on a wayfarer in the initial stages, he would not be able to bear them and would abandon wayfaring all together, or he would be consumed or perish.

But gradually under the effect of the preliminary -degrees of muraqabah and gathering strength in wayfaring, he is enabled to carry out the high degrees of muraqabah in the later stages. In these stages, many of the things which were permissible and lawful for him in the early stages become unlawful and forbidden.

Under the effect of intense muraqabah and careful exercise of it the signs of love appear in the consciousness of the wayfarer, because the love of perfect beauty and perfection is innate in man (fitri) and incorporated in his make-up and engraved in his being. However, attachment to multiplicity and love of material things become veils blocking this innate love which do not allow this eternal light to shine through.

Gradually, through muraqabah the veils become flimsy until ultimately they disappear altogether and that innate love manifests itself in one's consciousness, drawing it towards the Source of beauty and perfection. This muraqabah is referred to as ‘may' or ‘wine' in the terminology of the gnostics:
به‌ پير ميكده‌ گفتم‌ كه‌ چيست‌ راه‌ نجات‌
بخواست‌ جام‌ ((مي‌)) وگفت‌ راز پوشيدن‌
I asked the old man of the tavern, What's the way to salvation,
He called for a cup of wine and said, Secrets are to be kept secret!
راه‌ خلوتگه‌ خاصم‌ بنما تا پس‌ از اين‌
((مي‌)) خورم‌ با تو و ديگر غم‌ دنيا نخورم‌
Lead me into my solitary privacy, that,
Thereafter, I with Thee may drink sweet wine,
And think no more of the world's bitter woes.
When the wayfarer carefully maintains his muraqabah, God, the Exalted, out of His love and grace, makes certain lights shine upon him as the first glimmers. At the beginning, these lights appear like flashes of lightning and they disappear as suddenly as they shine. But these lights gradually become stronger, like a small star that grows in brilliance and then begins to shine like a moon and then like a sun, and, at times, appears like a candle or lantern. These lights are called ‘the gnostic sleep' (nawm-e'irfani) in the jargon of the gnostic. These lights belong to the class of entities of the realm of Barzakh.

But when these phases of the wayfarer muraqabah become more intense and he observes it with precision, these lights become stronger and the wayfarer sees the whole heaven and earth, the east and the west, as one expanse of light. This light is the light of the spirit, which appears while passing through the world of Barzakh.

But in the first stages of passing, when the revelatory lights of the soul (tajalliyat al-nafs) are about to begin to shine, the wayfarer sees his soul in a material form. In other words, he might see himself standing before himself. This is the beginning stage of the immateriality of the soul (tajarrud al-nafs).

Our teacher, marhum Hajj Mirza Aqa Qadi-may God be pleased with him-used to say, "One day emerging from the room into the veranda, I saw myself standing silent by my side. I looked very carefully at my face, and observed a mole on it. On returning to my room when I looked into the mirror, I saw that there was a mole on my face that I had not noticed until then."

At times, the wayfarer finds that he has lost himself and however he may seek he does not find himself. It was mentioned that these experiences occur in the preliminary stages of the immateriality of the soul and are bound to space and time. But later on, with the help of God, the wayfarer can witness the entire reality of his, soul in its total immateriality.

An episode is related about marhum Hajj Mirza Jawad Aqa Maliki Tabrizi-may God be pleased with him-who for fourteen years was the pupil and disciple of the master of gnosis and tawhid, marham Akhund Mawla Husaynquli Hamadani-may God be pleased with him.

He used to say, "One day the Master said to me, ‘The task of training so ­and-so'-a disciple of his-is up to you: This disciple had a lot of courage and a firm determination. He carried out austerities and muraqabah for six years until he reached a station of pure receptivity for the perception of the soul's immateriality. I wanted that this wayfarer of the way of felicity to receive this grace of at the hands of the Master and to be dressed by him in this divine garb. I took him to the Master's home, and after I had mentioned my purpose, the Master said, ‘It is nothing,' and all of sudden he made a gesture with his hands, saying, 'Immateriality is like this.' That pupil later told me, ‘All of a sudden I saw that I had separated from my body and there was someone like myself standing at my side.'

It should be known that the observation of the beings of Barzakh is not much of an excellence, rather excellence lies in experiencing the soul in its complete and perfect immateriality. Since the soul, at this point, appears in its total immaterial reality, it is seen as a being unlimited by time and space, or, rather, as encompassing the world's east and west, and, contrary to the experience of the preliminary stages of multiplicity, this observation is of the kind of cognition of universals.

An episode is related about marhum Aqa Sayyid Ahmad Karbalai-may God be pleased with him-who was one of the well-known and outstanding pupils of the marhum Akhund. He said, "One day I was relaxing at some place when somebody woke me up and said, ‘If you want to see the nur al-isfahbod (lit. the commanding light), wake up!' When I opened my eyes I saw a boundless light covering the east and the west of the world.' “May God grant it to us to. This is the same as the stage of the soul's revelation (tajalli-ye nafs) which is observed in this manner as a boundless light.

On crossing this stage, as a result of observing the muraqabah in a manner commensurate with those higher realms and the requirements of those stages and stations, the felicitous wayfarer succeeds in observing the Attributes of God, the Exalted, or the Attributes of His Holy Essence in the mode of universality.

At this stage, it may happen that the wayfarer suddenly observes all the world's existents as constituting a single act of knowledge, or he may find that there is no power except a single power. This is at the stage of witnessing (shuhad) the Attributes. But in the stage of witnessing (shuhud) the Names, which is still a higher one, the wayfarer observes that in all the worlds there is but one knower, and one powerful being, and one living being. And this phase of the stage of perception of Attributes, which appears at the plane of the heart, is nobler and more perfect:
لِانَّ السَّالِكَ يُصْبِحُ وَلَا يَرَى قادِراً وَلَا عالِمًا وَلَا حَيًاً سِوَى اللهِ تَعالَى
Because the wayfarer reaches a point where he does not see any power, knowledge, and life except those of God, the Exalted.
And this experience mostly occurs during the course of recitation of the Qur'an. It might happen that the reciter of the Qur'an finds that it is not he who is the reader but Someone Else. And it might happen that he finds that the hearer is also Someone Else.
It should be known that recitation of the Qur'an has a great role in the attainment of this station, and it behoves the wayfarer to recite the longer surahs (suwar‑e'aza'im) while performing the night prayer. Falling suddenly into prostration from the standing position is not without grace, and it has been proved by experience that the recitation of the blessed Surat Sad in the one‑rak'ah prayer (watirah) of the Friday's set of nightly prayers is very effective. The characteristics of this surah are known from the traditions narrated concerning its thawab.
When with Divine assistance the wayfarer covers these stages and succeeds in attaining these epiphanies, he is encircled by the Divine jadhabat, which bring him closer every moment to real annihilation, until, ultimately, he is encompassed with jadhbah, proceeding towards Absolute Perfection and Beauty, setting his own being and that of everything on fire, not seeing anything in front of the splendour of the Beloved:
كَانَ اللَهُ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ مَعَهُ شَيْءٌ
God was, and there was nothing else besides Him.
And in this state the wayfarer leaves the valley of separation and is immersed in the boundless ocean of the epiphany of the Divine Essence.

It should not remain unsaid that the wayfarer's wayfaring does not preclude his life and existence in the world of matter. The realm of external plurality remains as it is, and the wayfarer finds unity while dwelling in plurality. And some of them have said, "For thirty years I have lived among the people, and they imagined that I was in their company and had constant intercourse with them, whereas throughout this period I have not seen, nor known, anybody except God."

This state is very important and significant, for in the beginning this state may appear for just a moment, but gradually it becomes more intense extending for ten minutes or more, and later on for an hour or more and still later on, with Divine grace, it might pass beyond being a state and become a station.

In the jargon of traditions and in the terminology of the sages, this state is referred to as ‘living in God,' baqa' bi ma'bud (lit. survival in the Worshipped One) and this degree of perfection cannot be attained except after attainment of total fana', annihilation, of the being of contingent existents in the Essence of the One. In this state the wayfarer sees nothing except the Sacred Divine Essence.

It has been written concerning one of the sages absorbed in Divine splendour (majdhubin), named Baba Farajullah Majdhub, who was captivated by the Divine jadhbah, that he was asked to describe the world, whereat he replied, "Since the time I have opened my eyes, I haven't seen the world that I might be able to describe it."2

At the beginning, when this shuhud (epiphany) has not yet become strong enough it is called hal (state). At this stage it is not a voluntarily condition for the wayfarer. But as a result of intense muraqabah and Divine assistance it passes from the stage of being a ‘state' to become a ‘station' (maqam). At this point it becomes voluntary.

It is obvious that a strong wayfarer is one who while witnessing these states also attends to the world of pluralities and who takes care of both the worlds. This rank is very sublime and elevated, and access to it very difficult. Perhaps it is exclusive to the prophets and the awliya' and whoever God wishes. While enjoying God's bounty described in the words :
أَنَما بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ لِي‌ مَعَ اللَهِ حَالاَتٌ لاَ يَسَعُهَا مَلَكٌ مُقَرَّبٌ
I have with God certain states which are beyond the capacity of any archangel,
Their outward appearance is a manifestation of:
… إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ …
I am only a mortal like you. (18:110)
Should anyone think that these stations are exclusive and attainment to this summit of Divine teaching is exclusively confined to the great prophets and infallible Imams, may God's benedictions and Peace be upon all of them, and that others, by no means whatsoever, have any access to it, the answer is that the office of prophethood and Imamate is something exclusive, but attainment to the station of absolute tawhid and fana' in the Essence of the One-which is called wilayah-is not at all exclusive. In fact, it is to this plane of perfection that the prophets and the Imams, may Peace be upon them, have summoned the community of believers.

The Noble Messenger, may God bless him and his family has summoned his ummah to reach a plane where he himself stands, and this summons implies the possibility of travelling towards that purpose. Otherwise it would mean that the invitation has been pointless:
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيراً
And for you there is a good model to be emulated in the Messenger of Allah, for someone who seeks God and has faith in the Last Day and remembers God profusely. (33:21)
And it has been narrated through a chain of authorities in Sunni sources that the Prophet (S) said :
لَولاَ تَكْثِيرٌ فِي‌ كَلاَمِكُمْ، وَتَمْرِيجٌ في‌ قُلُوبِكُمْ لَرَأَيْتُمْ مَا أَرَي‌، وَلَسَمِعْتُمْ مَا أَسْمَعُ
And were it not for this loquacity of yours and this agitation and disturbance in your hearts, you would indeed see what I see and hear what I hear.
This statement of the Noble Messenger, may God bless him and his family, indicates clearly that the cause of one's failure to attain human perfection is the same false and satanic thoughts and meaningless and futile actions. And it has also been related through a Shin chain of authorities that he said,
لَولاَ أَنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ يَحُومُونَ حَوْلَ قُلُوبِ بَنِي‌ آدَمَ لَرَأَوْا مَلَكُوتَ السَّمَـاوَاتِ والاْرْضِ
And were it not for the fact that Satan besieges the hearts of the children of Adam, verily they would have witnessed the malakut of the heavens and the earth.
Among the effects of that sublime human station is universal comprehension of the divine worlds, in accordance with the contingent receptivity of the wayfarers , and the result of this comprehension is the knowledge of the past and the future and the ability to exercise power over the materials of the universe, for that which comprehends has total domination over that which is comprehended, accompanying everyone and present everywhere.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Karim Jili, one of the gnostics, in his book al-insan al-­kamil, says, "I remember that once for a moment I went into a state wherein I found myself united with all existents so that they were all directly present for me, but this state did not last for more than a moment."
The Obstacle
Of course, the obstacle to the continuity and persistence of this state is preoccupation with the functions of the body, and the complete attainment of this rank can occur only after the soul's freedom from the management of the body. One of the Indian gnostics, Shaykh Waliullah Dehalawi, in his book Hama'at, says "I have been given the knowledge that relief from the effects of material life takes place five hundred years after crossing the world of matter and death." And this period corresponds to half of a divine ‘day' as mentioned by Him, Almighty:
… وَإِنَّ يَوْمًا عِندَ رَبِّكَ كَأَلْفِ سَنَةٍ مِّمَّا تَعُدُّونَ
And verily a day with thy Lord is like a thousand years in accordance with what you reckon." (22:47)
Of course, it is obvious that the other degrees and graces of this world are unlimited and unbounded. The basis for verbal conventions is human need, although with the extension of these needs verbal conventions have become more multiple. Accordingly, a description of the immaterial realities and lights of the divine worlds through ordinary language is impossible, and everything that has been said about those realms does not go beyond hints, and that sublime reality cannot be brought down to the level of common understanding.
The corporeal human being lives in the world of matter, which, in accordance with the explicit text of traditions (anta fi azlami'l‑‘awalim) ‘You abide in the darkest of the worlds') is the darkest of the divine worlds. He coins words within the limits of his daily needs for whatever he sees with his eyes and touches with his corporal hands. However, he does not have any knowledge of the other worlds with its attachments, rays, lights, and spirits so as to be able to coin words for them too. Accordingly, in the all the vocabularies of world languages there are no words to describe those sublime meanings. So how can one describe those realities and express them with one's tongue?
مشكل‌ عشق‌ نه‌ در حوصلة‌ دانش‌ ماست‌
حلّ اين‌ نكته‌ بدين‌ فكر خطا نتوان‌ كرد
The problem of love is beyond the reach of our knowledge.
This puzzle cannot be solved with these erroneous thoughts.
Two groups have spoken about these realities.
First is the group of the noble prophets, may peace be upon them, and it is obvious that they had links with the worlds transcending the material realm. However, in accordance with the dictum,
نَحْنُ مَعَاشِرَ الاَنْبِيَاءِ أُمِرْنَا أَنْ نُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ عَلَي‌ قَدْرِ عُقُولِهِمْ
We, prophets, have been commanded to speak to the people in accordance with the level of their intellects,
they were forced to express these ,realities in a way understandable for the common people. Accordingly, they abstained from describing the luminous realities and their extreme brilliance, refraining from describing something which has not even entered the heart of a mortal. They have spoken of such realities as
مَا لاَ عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ وَلاَ أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ وَلاَ خَطَرَ عَلَي‌ قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ
No eye has seen, nor any ear has heard, nor ever passed through a mortal's heart,
in such terms as ‘paradise,' ‘houris', ‘palaces,' and so on. And so they ultimately confessed that the description of the reality of those realms is not possible.

Second, there have been a series of persons who were honoured with the perception of these realities and who attained these graces, in accordance with their different capacities, by following the path of the prophets. They too have spoken about them under the veil of metaphors and similes.
The World of Khulus and Ikhlas
It should be known that these stations and degrees cannot be attained without attainment of sincerity (ikhlas; purity, freedom from any kind of taint) in the path of God. And until the wayfarer reaches the station of the Sincere (mukhlasin), he would not be able to discover reality as it should be.

It should be known that ikhlas or khulus is of two kinds. First, the ikhlas of one's faith in God, the Exalted, and obedience to Him. Second, the ikhlas i.e. making pure of one's own self for His sake. The first is referred to in the following noble verse:
وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ …
and they were not commanded but to serve God, making allegiance purely to Him. ..(98:5)
The second point is referred to in the noble verses,
إِلَّا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ الْمُخْلَصِينَ
. . . except the sincere servants of God. (37:40, 74,128,160)
And the famous prophetic tradition:
مَنْ أَخْلَصَ لِلَّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ صَبَاحَاً ظَهَرَتْ يَنَابِيعُ الحِكْمَةِ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ إلَي‌ لِسَانِهِ،
Whoever dedicates himself purely to God for forty days, will find springs of wisdom flowing out of his heart toward his tongue,
refers to the second kind. That is, this stage is reached by someone who purifies himself for the sake of God To explain, God, the Exalted, has, in the Noble Qur'an, attributed salah (righteousness) in some places to one's actions, such as in His statement,
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا …
whoever acts righteously… (16:97)
…مَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا …
. .. whoever does righteous deeds. (25:70)
… الَّذِين آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ …
... those who believe and do righteous deeds. (2:25)
And in some places it has been attributed to the being of man, such as in His Statements:
مِنَ الصَّـ
Verily, he is of the righteous. (21:75),
وَصَـالِحُ الْمُؤْمِنِين َ
... And the righteous of the believers. (66:4)
Similarly, ikhlas and khulus have been at times attributed to deeds, and at times to one's essence and being. Obviously, the realization of ikhlas at the plane of being depends on ikhlas at the plane of action; that is, until someone has ikhlas in each and every one of his actions and deeds, speech, movements, and pauses, he would not attain to the stage of ikhlas of essence. God, the Exalted, has said,
إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّـالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ
. . . Towards Him ascends the pure speech and righteous action elevates it. (35:10)
By referring the pronoun pertaining to the active subject (fa'il) implied in yarfa'u (raises) to al‑‘amal as‑salih (righteous action), the meaning of this verse becomes: al‑‘amal as‑salih farfa'u kalim al‑tayyib (‘righteous action elevates pure speech'). It should be known that when someone reaches the stage of ikhlas of essence and attains to this mighty grace, he would come to posses properties and characteristics which others lack.
Firstly, in accordance with the text of the Noble Qur'an, Satan cannot, by any means whatsoever, have domination upon him:
فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لاَغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ إِلاَّ عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ
By Thy honour, I shall seduce all of them save the mukhlasin among them of Thy servants. (38:83)
Evidently, this exception is not something consequent to a Divine instruction, but due to the essential authority of the Sincere at the station of tawhid, where Satan has no power and where he cannot find accesses to them due to his weakness and incapacity in this station. As the sincere have purged themselves for the sake of God, they see God in everything they behold. In whatever manner or form Satan may manifest himself for them they view that thing with a divine eye, arriving at a divine viewpoint.
Accordingly, from the very first, Satan confesses to his inability and impotence in relation to this group; otherwise, Satan's very being is for the seduction of mankind, and he is not someone who may have mercy on anyone and refrain from misleading him.
Secondly, this group will be excused and spared from reckoning on the day of universal summons and from presence on the scene of judgement. It is mentioned in the Noble Qur'an:
وَنُفِخَ فِي‌ الصُّورِ فَصَعِقَ ?

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