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The Fourth Flash


The title: ‘The Highway of the Practices of the Prophet' was considered appropriate for this treatise.


[Although the ‘Imamate Question' is a matter of secondary importance, since it has been given excessive importance, and because of its relevance to our basic duties towards the Qur'an and belief, it is in part discussed here in regard to this and to its being a subject considered in the sciences of theology (qalam) and the principles of religion.]




In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.


Now has come a prophet from among yourselves; it heavily weighs upon him that you might suffer; full of concern is he for you, and full of compassion and mercy towards the believers. * But if they turn away, say: God is enough for me, there is no god but He. In Him have I placed my trust, for He is the Sustainer of the Mighty Throne. * Say: I ask no recompense of you save love of close kin.


We shall point out in two ‘Stations' two of the many vast truths contained in these glorious verses.


First Station


The First Station consists of four ‘Points.'




This describes the Most Noble Prophet's (Peace and blessings be upon him) perfect compassion and mercy towards his Community. According to sound narrations, when at the terror of the Resurrection everyone, and even the prophets, will cry out for themselves, the Most Noble Prophet will demonstrate his pity and compassion by calling out: "My Community! My Community!" Like, as affirmed by those who uncover the mysteries of creation, when he was born, his mother heard among his supplications the words: "My Community! My Community!" Also, the whole history of his life, as well as the kind and compassionate conduct which he propagated demonstrate his perfect compassion and clemency. So too through displaying an infinite need for the innumerable prayers of his Community, he showed a boundless compassion; for he showed that out of his perfect compassion he was concerned with the happiness of all of them. Thus, you can understand how lacking in gratitude and conscience it is not to observe the Practices of so kind and compassionate a leader.




Among the universal and general duties of his prophethood, the Most Noble Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) displayed great compassion in certain particular, minor matters. Superficially, his expending great compassion on such matters seems inappropriate to the supreme importance of the function of prophethood. But in reality minor matters such as those were the tips or samples of a chain which could be the means to the fulfilment of a universal and general function of prophethood. Therefore the greatest importance was given to the sample for the sake of the mighty chain.


For example, the extraordinary compassion the Most Noble Prophet (PBUH) showed towards Hasan and Husain in their childhood and the great importance he gave them was not only due to love arising from natural kindness and family feeling, it was rather because they were each the tip of a luminous thread of the function of prophethood, and the source, sample, and index of a community of great consequence which would receive the legacy of prophethood.


Indeed, the Most Noble Prophet (PBUH) used to take Hasan (May God be pleased with him) tenderly into his arms and kiss his head for the sake of the luminous, blessed, Mehdi-like descendents who would spring from him, like Shah Geylani, Ghawth al-A'zam, who would be the inheritors of prophethood and would bear the sacred Shari'a of Muhammed. He saw with the eye of prophethood the sacred service and duty they would perform in the future, and approved and applauded them. He kissed Hasan's head as a sign of approval and encouragement.


Also, he embraced Husain and showed him great importance and tenderness on account of the illustrious Imams like Zaynu'l-Abidin and Ja'far al-Sadiq, and the numerous Mehdi-like luminous persons, true inheritors of prophethood, who would spring from his effulgent line, and for the sake of the religion of Islam and functions of prophethood.


Since with his heart which had knowledge of the Unseen, the Prophet Muhammed's (PBUH) luminous vision and future-penetrating eye observed from the Era of Bliss in this world the Assembly of the Resurrection on the side of post-eternity, and from the earth saw Paradise, and watched events which had occurred since the time of Adam and were concealed in the dark veils of the past, and even received the vision of the All-Glorious One, he surely saw the spiritual poles and the Imams, who were the inheritors of prophethood, and the Mehdis, who would follow on in the lines of Hasan and Husain. And for sure he would kiss their heads in the name of all of them. Yes, Shah Geylani has a large part in his kissing Hasan's head.




According to one interpretation, the meaning of the verse:


Say: I ask of you no recompense save love of close kin


is that "the Most Noble Prophet (PBUH) wants no reward for carrying out the duty of prophethood; he wants only love for his family."


I f i t i s s a i d : "According to this meaning, it seems there is an advantage to be gained from a family relationship. Whereas, according to the meaning of:


The most honoured of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you,6


it is not in regard to family relationships that prophethood functions, but in regard to closeness to God,"


T h e A n s w e r : With his vision which penetrated the Unseen, the Most Noble Prophet (PBUH) saw that his Family would become like a light-giving tree within the world of Islam. The overwhelming majority of those who would perform the duty of guides instructing every level of the World of Islam in human attainment and perfection would emerge from his Family. He divined that his Community's prayer for his Family in the final section of the prescribed prayers: O God, grant blessings to our master Muhammed and to the Family of our master Muhammed, as You granted blessings to Abraham and to the Family of Abraham; indeed, You are Worthy of Praise, Most Exalted would be accepted. That is to say, like the vast majority of the luminous guides among the people of Abraham were prophets of the family and line of Abraham, he saw in his Community also, the spiritual poles of the Family of Muhammed performing the great duties of Islam, and in most of the paths and Sufi orders, like the prophets of Israel. Therefore, being commanded to say: Say: I ask of you no recompense save love of close kin, he wanted his Community to love his Family.


There are numerous narrations corroborating this fact. He repeatedly decreed: "I leave you two things. If you adhere to them, you will find salvation: one is God's Book, the other is my Family."7 For those who were the source and guardians of the Prophet's Practices, and were charged with complying with them in every respect, were his Family.


Thus, this is why this truth was made known in Hadiths under the heading of following the Book and the Prophet's Practices. That is to say, what was required from the Family of the Prophet in respect of the function of prophethood were the Practices of the Prophet. Just as someone who abandoned the Prophet's Practices could not truly be a member of his Family, so too such a person could not be a true friend to them.


Also, the reason he desired his Community to gather round his Family was that, with God's permission, he knew his Family were going to become very numerous with the passing of time, and that Islam was going to become weak. Therefore an extremely strong and numerous mutually supportive group of people was necessary so that it could be the means to and centre for the spiritual and moral progress of the World of Islam. With Divine permission, he thought of this, and desired that his Community should gather round his Family.


Indeed, even if the members of the Prophet's Family were not greatly in advance of others in matters of belief and faith, they were still greatly ahead of them in regard to submission, partiality, and partisanship. For they were followers of Islam by nature, birth, and temperament. Even if natural partiality is weak and unworthy, or unjustifiable even, it cannot be given up. So, would it be possible for a person to give up his support for a truth to which all his forefathers—who were most strong, most constant and true, and most illustrious—had been bound, and through which they had won glory, and for which they had sacrificed their lives, a truth he felt clearly to be so fundamental and natural? Thus, due to this intense partiality and natural submission, the Family of the Prophet accepted the least hint in favour of the religion of Islam as though it was a powerful proof. For they were partial by nature. Others become partial after some powerful proof.






In connection with the Third Point, we shall indicate briefly a matter which is a point of dispute between the Shi'a and the Sunnis and has been magnified to such an extent that it has entered the books on the tenets of faith and among the fundamentals of belief.


T h e S u n n i s s a y : "Ali (May God be pleased with him) was the fourth of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. Abu Bakr ‘al-Siddiq' (May God be pleased with him) was superior to him and was more deserving of the Caliphate, therefore it passed to him first." While the Shi'a say: "It was Ali's right. An injustice was done to him. The most worthy of them all was Ali." A summary of the arguments for their claims is this. They say: "The Hadiths of the Prophet about Ali, and through his title of ‘King of Sainthood,' his being the source for the vast majority of the saints and spiritual paths, and his extraordinary knowledge, courage, and worship, and the Prophet's (Peace and blessings be upon him) intense concern for him and towards his descendents all show that it was he who was the most worthy. The Caliphate was always his right; it was seized from him."


T h e A n s w e r : The fact that Ali (May God be pleased with him) followed the first three Caliphs, whom he repeatedly acknowledged, and held the position of their Shaykhu'l-Islam, refutes these claims of the Shi'a. Furthermore, the victories of Islam and the struggles against its enemies in the time of the first three Caliphs and the events in Ali's time, refute the Shi'a's claims, again from the point of view of the Islamic Caliphate. That is to say the Sunnis' claim is rightful.


I f i t i s s a i d that the Shi'a are two: one are the ‘Sainthood Shi'a,' and the other are the ‘Caliphate Shi'a.' Through mixing hatred and politics the second group may have been unjust, but the first group were not concerned with resentment and politics. However, the Sainthood Shi'a joined the Caliphate Shi'a. That is, some of the saints of the Sufi orders considered Ali to be superior and they endorsed the claims of the Caliphate Shi'a.


T h e A n s w e r : It is necessary to consider Ali (May God be pleased with him) in two respects. One is from the point of view of his personal perfections and rank, and the second is from the point of view of his representing the collective personality of the Prophet's Family. As for this collective personality, it displays an aspect of the Most Noble Prophet's (PBUH) essential nature.


And so, in regard to the first point, foremost Ali himself and all the people of truth gave precedence to Abu Bakr and Umar. They saw their ranks as higher in the service of Islam and closeness to God. As for the second point, in respect of being the representative of the collective personality of the Prophet's Family and the collective personality of the Prophet's Family representing an aspect of the Muhammedan Truth, Ali has no equal. Thus, the highly laudatory Hadiths about Ali look to this second point. There is a sound narration which corroborates this fact. The Most Noble Prophet (PBUH) decreed: "The descendents of each prophet are from himself. My descendents are those of Ali."


The reason the Hadiths praising Ali more than the other three Caliphs have become so widespread is that the People of Truth, that is, the Sunnis, spread many narrations about him in response to the Umayyads and Kharijites attacking and disparaging him unjustly. Since the other Rightly-Guided Caliphs were not subject to such criticism and detraction, no need was felt to spread Hadiths about them.


Furthermore, the Prophet (PBUH) saw with the eye of prophethood the grievous events and internal strife to which Ali would be exposed in the future, and in order to save him from despair and his Community from thinking unfavourably of him, he consoled him and guided his Community with important Hadiths like "Whosever master I am, Ali too is his master."


The excessive love of the Sainthood Shi'a towards Ali (May God be pleased with him) and—influenced by the Sufi Orders—their deeming him superior cannot make them answerable to the degree of the Caliphate Shi'a. For by reason of their way, those who follow the path of sainthood look towards their spiritual guides with love. And the mark of love is excess, it wants to see the beloved as greater than his rank. And that is how it sees him. Ecstatics may be forgiven excesses of love. So on condition their deeming Ali more worthy, which arises from their love, does not turn into disparagement of and enmity towards the other Rightly-Guided Caliphs and does not go beyond the fundamental teachings of Islam, it may be excused.


As for the Caliphate Shi'a, since political prejudice took a hold of them, they could not be saved from hatred and aggression, and they lost their right to be excused. Even, confirming the saying, Not for love of Ali, but out of hatred of Umar, since Persian national pride was wounded at Umar's hand, they demonstrated their revenge in the form of love of Ali. So also Amr b. al-As's rebellion against Ali and Umar b. al-Sa'd's tragic war against Husain aroused in the Shi'a an intense anger and enmity towards the name of Umar.


The Sainthood Shi'a have no right to criticize the Sunnis, for the Sunnis have not decried Ali, indeed, they love him sincerely. But they avoid the excessive love which is described as dangerous in Hadiths. The Prophet's praise of Ali's followers in the Hadiths refers to the Sunnis. For those of Ali's followers who love him in a moderate fashion are the Sunnis, who are the People of Truth. As excessive love of Jesus (Upon whom be peace) is dangerous for Christians, so has it been made clear in sound Hadiths that that sort of excessive love for Ali is dangerous.


I f t h e S a i n t h o o d S h i ' a s a y : "Once Ali's consummate spiritual attainments are accepted, it is not possible to prefer Abu Bakr the Truthful to him,"


T h e r e p l y : It was as though the personal perfections of Abu Bakr 'Siddiq al-Akbar' and Umar’Faruq al-A'zam' (May God be pleased with them) had been placed in the pan of some scales together with their achievements in the time of their Caliphates, realized through their carrying out the functions inherited from prophethood, and in the other pan had been placed Ali's (May God be pleased with him) extraordinary personal perfections together with the internal Caliphate struggles, which arose from the tragic events he was compelled to enter upon and were the object of suspicion and distrust, and the Sunnis saw that al-Siddiq's, or al-Faruq's, or Dhi'l-Nurayn's pan weighed heavier, and so they preferred them.


Moreover, as is proved in the Twelth and Twenty-Fourth Words, prophethood is so elevated in comparison to sainthood that a tiny manifestation of it is superior to a large manifestation of sainthood. In regard to this, the successes of Siddiq al-Akbar and Faruq al-A'zam during their Caliphates became an indication for the Sunnis that their share in the legacy of prophethood and the establishment of its laws had been divinely bestowed. Since Ali's personal perfections did not dismiss that greater share, which arose from the inheritance of prophethood, he acted as Shaykhu'l-Islam for Abu Bakr and Umar, the Shaykhayn al-Mukarramayn, in the time of their Caliphates, and esteemed them. How should the Sunnis, who love and revere Ali, not love and revere the Shaykhayn, whom Ali loved and revered sincerely? Let us make this truth clear be means of an example:


One of the sons of a very rich man is given twenty batmans11 of silver and four batmans of gold from his father's legacy, and another is given five of silver and five of gold. So if the third is given three of silver and five of gold, of course the last two will receive less in quantity, but more in quality. Like this example, the lesser amount of the Shaykhayn's share of the gold of the truth of ‘Divine immediacy,' which was manifested in the legacy of prophethood and the establishment of its laws, would weigh heavier than the great amount of ‘Divine proximity' and the perfections of sainthood which sprang from the jewel of sainthood. These points should also be taken into account when weighing them up. But if they are compared with one another from the point of view of personal courage, knowledge, and sainthood, the matter takes on another complexion.


Also, there can be no comparison in respect of the collective personality of the Prophet's Family, which was represented in the person of Ali (May God be pleased with him), and of the Muhammedan Truth, which was manifested in that collective personality through the absolute legacy of prophethood. For contained in it is the mighty mystery of the Prophet Muhammed (Peace and blessings be upon him).


As for the Caliphate Shi'a, they have no rights before the Sunnis other than shame. For although they claim to have tremendous love for Ali, they disparage him, and their creed necessitates accusing him of immorality. For they say that although Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and Umar were acting unjustly, Ali feigned approval for them; according to Shi'i terminology, he dissimulated. That is, he was frightened of them and behaved hypocritically. But it is not love to see someone who was such a hero of Islam, won the title ‘Lion of Allah,' and was the commander and guide of the faithful as simulating love for people he did not love out of fear and deception, as feigning approval for them in fear for more than twenty years, and as following wrongdoers. Ali (May God be pleased with him) would disclaim love that sort.


Thus, the People of Truth's creed in no way disparages Ali, nor levels accusations of immorality at him. It does not attribute cowardice to such a remarkable courage, but says: "If Ali had not considered the Rightly-Guided Caliphs to be right, he would not have recognized them for a minute, nor obeyed them. It means that since he thought them right and preferable, he surrendered his endeavour and courage on the way of justice."


I n S h o r t : Too much or too little of anything is not good. Moderation is the middle way, and that is the way the Sunnis have chosen. But, alas, like Kharijite ideas have infiltrated the Sunnis to an extent, so also addicts of politics and some atheists criticize Ali. They say, God forbid, that since he did not understand politics, he was not entirely worthy of the Caliphate and could not govern. And because of these unjust accusations of theirs, Alevis feel affronted at the Sunnis. Whereas the principles and basic beliefs of the Sunnis do not necessitate these ideas. Indeed, they prove the opposite. The Sunnis cannot be condemned because of ideas such as those which come from Kharijites and atheists. Rather, the Sunnis are firmer followers of Ali than the Alevis. They mention Ali in the laudatory fashion he deserves in all their khutbas and prayers. Particularly the saints and purified scholars, the vast majority of whom were of the Sunni school, recognized him as spiritual guide and the king of sainthood. The Alevis should ignore the Kharijites and atheists who have deservedly earned the enmity of both the Alevis and the Sunnis, and not take sides against the People of Truth. Some Alevis even abandon the Prophet's Sunna out of spite for the Sunnis. Anyway, we have said too much on this matter, for it has been discussed to excess by the religious scholars.


And so, O Sunnis, who are the People of Truth, and Alevis, whose way is love of the Prophet's Family! Quickly put an end to this meaningless, disloyal, unjust, and harmful dispute between you. Otherwise the atheistic current which is now so influential will make one of you a tool against the other, and use the one to crush the other. And after defeating the one it will destroy the tool. Since you are believers in Divine Unity, it is essential to leave aside unimportant matters which necessitate division while there are a hundred fundamental sacred bonds between you which command brotherhood and unity.


* * *


Second Station


The Second Station will be about the second truth of the verse,


But if they turn away, say: "God suffices me, there is no god but He; in Him do I place my trust—He the Sustainer of the Throne [of Glory] Supreme!"



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