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Special Fasting - the Affairs of Allah's Favourite Saints

It has been narrated that fasting carries still further higher ranks, and that is the fasting of those who observe fasting and worship only because they consider, Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), as worthy of worshipping. They do not have any intention and objective in their fasting and worshipping, even the aim and intention of becoming nearer to Him and attaining His pleasure and countenance. They consider even worshipping and fasting with the intention of Allah's countenance and nearness as incomplete, and I myself have seen someone like this who considered such worships and deeds as worshipping of self or egotism.

It seems that their thinking is not acceptable, and I don't believe that there is any prophet, imam, or favourite angel whose deeds and worships would be based solely upon his belief that Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), deserves worshipping and in none of his deeds wouldn't have desired even attaining Allah's nearness and countenance . And if, some of the mystics considered worshipping with the intention of Allah's nearness and attaining His countenance as self-worshipping or egotism they have acted extravagantly with exaggeration. Of course, it must be understood that occasionally a situation arises for mystics and saints, whereby their worships, actions, and even intentions are not for the sake of attaining Allah's nearness or countenance rather they do it because, they consider Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), as worthy of worshipping. But, I don't believe that continuation of this situation permanently would be possible for any of the prophets what to say about others.

And I don't prefer even worship with this intention, over the worship performed for the sake of attaining Allah's nearness and countenance. How could I prefer such a worship because, I do not know any worship superior than the worship's of the Holy Prophet [s] and Commander of the Faithful Imam 'Ali [a], which in accordance with various traditions, in most of the cases, were performed with the sole intention of attaining Allah's countenance and pleasure.

Even, I can go further deeper and say that it is not far away from reality that maybe some of the times the worships of these nobles might have been performed with the intention of fear from divine punishment. And why shouldn't it be so? Is it possible that someone's intensity of fear from divine punishment be so severe that whenever he would think about Hell would result in his fainting?[11] Then how come such severe fear wouldn't be effective in his actions and worships? I believe that if such a thing is not impossible, it is far away from being accepted.

I may even say that the situations of divine prophets and saints including their Lord and Master the Prophet of Islam differ significantly, and the reason of this difference is due to the respective manifestations of the glory of Allah's sacred names upon them. At times, when the sacred names of Allah's beauty were manifested upon them they become infatuated with His love, sought comfort in His love and affection, behaved like a lover uttering amorous words, did not desire any thing other than Him, and even sometimes behaved in affected manners. And when the sacred divine names of Allah's glory and wrath were manifested upon them they were engulfed with fear and anxiety, trembled and shed tears, recited phrase of repentance upon their tongue, mentioned their humility and neediness, besought him for His forgiveness and pardon, and requested immunity against divine punishments and Hell's fire.

The reason of such manifestations was divine orders and expediency so that these Allah's noble creatures could be trained in this manner, may be promoted to higher Exalted spiritual stations, and could attain His nearness. Yes! The spiritual training and spiritual positions of those noble personalities were in Allah's hand, and He himself with such manifestations has carried them upward towards meaningful perfection and Exalted spiritual positions. Didn't we recite in the comprehensive prayer (Ziyarat-e-Jamiah)[12]:

"O' my Masters! Allah's with alternative manifestations of fear and hope (i.e. by revealing His wrath, glory, and beauty), has taken over the control of your heart's training and asceticism in His own hands."

Yes! The difference in the lifestyles of divine messengers and saints is a matter, which is confirmed by narrations, and anyone who has undertaken some research about the traditions regarding their biographies would be able to appreciate this matter easily. For example: regarding the Holy Prophet [s] it has been reported in traditions that he sometimes said:

"O' Humera (Ayesha)!"

And called Ayesha for companionship or talking, while on the other hand he kept awaiting for prayer time and said to Bilal:

"Comfort me, O' Bilal! (by calling for prayers)."

Sometimes, when revelation were descended upon him, the colour of his face used to change, even he used to be scared during windstorms fearing divine retributions. Does not this explicitly indicate the variations in the behavior of that noble personality? And if it so, how can it be accepted that in all his worships and obedience he does not have any aim except considering Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), as worthy of worship?

The above discussion proves this point that those who said that - the worship should be performed with the only intention that He (Allah) is worthy of worship - is an statement which cannot be accepted, even if it was uttered by the great scholars and mystics with the exception that, those noble ones, with these words would have pursued a matter which is in agreement with their intention of achieving Allah's nearness. Because, the aim of attaining nearness of the Supreme Reality or Beloved's countenance could be possible without the heart's infatuation with Paradise or fear from Hell's tortures, rather with the intention of considering Him worthy of worship and, thus, striving towards His nearness. And therefore, performance of worship and deeds with this intention, in itself is an evidence and the meanings of that worship and deed, which has been performed with the sole intention of knowing Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), as worthy of adornment as the Commander of the Faithful Imam `Ali [a] has said:

"O' Allah! If I adore you and lower my head in servitude, it is neither because of the heart's infatuation towards Paradise nor because of fear from Hell's fire, rather I worship You because I consider you as worthy of worshipping."

The above narration emphasizes the same point because, the noble Imam has placed the worship due to worthiness only in front of worships for the sake of greed or fear and not against all other kind of worships even if performed with the intention of attaining Allah's nearness and achieving his pleasure.

Yes! I beseech Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), to bestow upon me the grace, favour, and strength to worship Him with the intention of attaining His nearness. Furthermore I ask Him to guide us to understand the correct and proper meanings of His nearness and accordingly should strive towards its attainment, so that we are not included among those who consider His nearness as meaningless and impossible. Didn't some of the exalted scholars and jurisprudents consider, although incorrectly, Allah's nearness as meaningless? And said that intention of Allah's nearness could not mean anything except servitude to His commands, otherwise it would be in contradiction with Allah's attributes.

Also, it should not be forgotten that considering worshipping due to greed or fear as futile, even if these words are uttered by some of the learned scholars and gnostics are undesirable and improper, of course, such negligence and blunders from these noble ones are not in disharmony with their exalted academic and mystical ranks because, Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), in accordance with His wisdom and expediency makes them entangled into such negligence and stumbles.

Also, it must be understood that one of the most famous and learned scholar Sayyid Taoos, in his book Iqbal, has regarded those who worship Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), only due to fear from Hell as low. According to his own explanation, these are the people who did not consider Allah as worthy of worship and if there was no fear of Hell, they would not have worshipped Him at all. Of course, such views as Sayyid Taoos has explained, are not correct and those who possess this thinking are indeed low and such Islam and belief are indeed, sick and contaminated.

Also, this must be clarified that a sincere devotee does not look towards anything except his beloved, in addition to that from the point of view of tolerance of hardships, performs the hardest worships, as has been narrated from the Commander of the Faithful Imam 'Ali [a] that if there were two deeds carrying the same reward, he would have selected the harder one. These are the real sincere ones, and may Allah bless them.


[11] Some of the Islamic traditions about some of the Sinless Imams [a] have mentioned that while remembering Hell's horrible punishments they fainted, [Author].

[12] For Ziyarat-e-Jamiah refer to the book Prayers and Supplications selected from Mafatih al-Jinan, Zad ul-M'ad and Almanac p. 654 [Tr]


Adapted from: "Spiritual Journey of the Mystics (Suluk-i Arifan)" by: "Mirza Javad Aqa Maleki Tabrizi"

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