Refuting a Group of Ignorants
Refuting a Group of Ignorants
Now as you have got acquainted with the stages of sincerity and states of the acts of worship to some extent get ready to acquire them, since to have knowledge without putting it to practice is worthless, and knowledge is a stronger evidence against the claimant and he is more exposed to argument. Alas! It is regretted that we are completely deprived of the divine knowledge, the spiritual states of the people of Allah and the lofty positions of the men of heart. A group of us completely deny all the states and regard their people to be erroneous and their acts batil [false] and worthless. They even take those who praisingly mention them, or invite to their states, to be forgers and their invitation to be a paradox. There is no hope in drawing the attention of such groups to their own faults and shortcomings, and in waking them up: "Surely you cannot guide everyone whom you love";  "... You cannot make those in the graves hear" 
Yes, those who, like the helpless writer, know nothing at all, and whose hearts are not living up to the life of knowledge and divine love, are but dead ones, for whom the bodily covers are their rotten graves. This dust of the body and dark narrowness of the skeleton have shut them off from all the worlds of light and light upon light: "... And he for whom Allah has not assigned light, for him there is no light."  Much as you try to recite of hadiths and of the Qur'an to these groups concerning divine affection and love and concerning longing for meeting [Him], and exclusively being attached to Him, they still try to interpret, justify and explain them according to their own opinions. All those ayahs about meeting Allah and divine love they interpret to be a meeting with the trees of Paradise and the beautiful women. I wonder what these groups would do with the texts of the Sha`baniyah Supplication, which says: "O Allah! Grant me to be completely devoted to you, and lighten the eyes of our hearts with the light of looking at You until the eyes of the hearts penetrate the barriers of light to reach to the Source of Greatness, and our souls hang to the Might of Your Sanctity. O Allah! Make me one of those whom You called and he responded, and when you looked at him, he was stunned because of Your Majesty." [252a]
So, what do "barriers of light" mean? Does "looking at Allah" mean looking at the palaces of Paradise? Does "the Source of Greatness" mean heavenly palaces? Does "the hanging of the souls to the Might of Sanctity" mean hanging to the skirts of the houris for sensual desires? This "being stunned because of His Majesty', does it mean being spell-bound at the beauties of the women of Paradise? Those ecstasies and faintings which used to befall the Messenger of Allah (SA) during his ascending salat , and those lights of grandeur, and the things loftier than them, which he used to discern, in that meeting in which the Archangel, Gabriel (AS), was not admitted and he dared not to advance even for an inch farther, were those ecstasies for one of the very good women? Or did he discern lights like those of the sun and the moon or much brighter? That sound heart, which was referred to by the infallible [ma'sum] (AS) in explaining the verse: "Except him who comes to Allah with a sound heart",  by saying: "A sound heart is that one which meets Allah while there is nothing in it save Him,"  does it mean that "there is nothing in it save Allah" denotes "nothing save the generosity of Allah", which is to mean an allusion to "nothing save [say] pearls and apricots"?
Woe to me for letting the rein of the pen be loose and engage in ecstatic phrases. But, by the life of the beloved, no particular aim was intended by those words, except that there might be, for my brothers in faith, especially the learned, a sort of warning, so that they might not, at least, deny the states of the people of Allah, for such a denial would be the origin of every wretchedness and misfortune. We did not intend to say who Ahlullah [the people of Allah] are. Actually, our intention was that their states should not be denied. As to who the owners of those states are, Allah alone knows them, since it is a matter of which no one is informed: "The one who got an information did not come back." 
There is another group who do not deny the states of the people of knowledge and are not against the people of Allah. But their indulgence in worldly matters, trying to obtain them, and their taking to the transient pleasures, have prevented them from acquiring knowledge, practice, intellectual intuition [dhauq] and ecstasy [hal]. They are like those sick people who do know they are sick, but their stomach would not let them be cautious and accept taking bitter medicine, while the former group are like the patients who would never believe in the existence of such patients and such disease in actuality, and despite the fact that they themselves are afflicted with this disease, they deny its existence.
Another group took to acquiring knowledge and engaged in learning theories, but as regards the truths of knowledge and the states of the people of Allah, they satisfied themselves with terms and vocabularies, and with the gaudiness of phrases and expressions. They tied themselves and other wretched ones in the chains of words and terms, and out of all "states", they satisfied themselves with mere talk. Among them there are a few who do know themselves, but, in order to preside over some other unfortunate persons, they use these meaningless terms as a means of winning a living, and, with their deceitful expressions and attractive talks, they capture the pure hearts of the servants of Allah. These are the human Satans whose harm is no less than that of the accursed Iblis himself against the servants of Allah. These unfortunate ones do not know that the hearts of the servants of Allah are the abode of Allah, and no one has the right to occupy them. They are usurpers of Allah's abode and destroyers of the real ka`bah. They carve out idols and place them in the hearts of the servants of Allah, which are the ka`bah, or rather al-Baytul Ma`mur [Allah's Populous House]. They are the sick people who pretend to be physicians, and involve the servants of Allah in diverse deadly diseases.
The members of this group are distinguished for being more interested in guiding the wealthy people and the notable personalities than in guiding the poor and the indigent, and their followers are more of the well-off and notable people. Even they themselves appear in the apparel of the wealthy people. They play on such deceptive talks that while they are polluted with a thousand kinds of mundane impurities, they can show themselves as purifiers and of the people of Allah. The wretched fools and their followers close their eyes against all their tangible faults, and flatter themselves with empty terms and utterances.
Now as we have reached this stage of our speech, it is worthwhile to relate one or two hadiths narrated in this respect, although it would be out of the content of our discourse. However, getting the blessings of the hadiths of Ahlul Bayt (AS) is a good thing:
Shaykh as-Saduq [may Allah have mercy upon him] in his book al khisal, quoting Abu `Abdullah [as-Sadiq] (AS), says: "There are among the scholars those who like to compile their knowledge, and do not like to be quoted. These are at the first step of the Fire. Other scholars are proud when they admonish, but they disdain being admonished. These are at the second step of the Fire. Some scholars prefer to put their knowledge at the disposal of the noble and the wealthy, excluding the poor from it. These are at the third step of the Fire. Other scholars behave like the tyrants and the monarchs in their knowledge, and if they were redressed or neglected in some of their affairs, they would become angry. These are at the fourth step of the Fire. Some scholars look for the hadiths of the Jews and the Christians in order to support their own knowledge and increase their own hadiths. These are at the fifth step of the Fire. Other scholars appoint themselves to give out religious decrees, telling the people: "Ask me!", whereas they may not be right even in a single letter, and Allah does not like the pretentious. These are at the sixth step of the Fire. There are among the scholars those who take knowledge to be a sense of honour and intellect. These are at the seventh step of the Fire." 
Al-Kulayni [may Allah have mercy upon him], in his comprehensive [book] al-Kafi , quoting Imam al-Baqir (AS) , says : "The one who seeks knowledge in order to vie with the scholars, or to argue with the fool, or to attract the people to himself, let him have his seat in the Fire-Presidency does not befit except its deserver." 
Also quoting Imam as-Sadiq (AS) he says : " Whenever you see a scholar loving this world accuse him of being against your religion, as the lover of a thing seeks to get what he loves. And he said: "Allah, the Exalted, revealed to David (AS): `Do not place between Me and yourself a scholar who is infatuated with this world, as he would prevent you from the way of My love, for those are the robbers of My loving servants. The least I would do to them is to extract the sweetness of supplication to Me from their hearts." 
Those from among this group, who are not impostors or fraudulent, and are themselves saliks on the road to the Hereafter , striving to acquire knowledge and high states, it sometimes happens that they are fooled by Satan, the highway robber , and get conceited , thinking that the states and knowledge [ma`arif] are really nothing but the very scholarly terms and expressions which they themselves or others, have coined. They spend the prime of their years and the best of their lives, in multiplicating those terms and composing books and papers, such as a group of versed mufassirs [ writers of commentaries on the Qur'an ] who think that the advantage of the Qur'an is confined to recording a collection of different ways of its recitation, the meanings of its vocabularies and conjugation of its verbs, its verbal and moral beauties, aspects of its miraculous inimitability, its conventional meaning, and its different impressions on different persons, but they are completely ignorant of the Qur'an's message, its spiritual dimensions and divine knowledge [ma'arif]. They are more like a sick man who has gone to a physician and received his prescription, and thinks that he will be treated by way of recording and preserving the recipe and by the mode of its ingredients. This disease will kill such people, for knowing the recipe and going to the doctor come to no avail at all.
O dear! All sciences are practical. Even the science of tauhid [monotheism] also consists of cordial and formal acts. Tauhid, grammatically, denotes turning plurality into singleness - a spiritual and cordial act. Unless you recognize the real and the true cause in the multiplicity of acts, unless you have a truth-finding eye to discern Allah in nature, unless you regard the natural and non-natural multiplicities as perished [fani] in Allah and His acts, and unless the authority of Allah's Unity of Acts has not spread its banner in your heart, you will be far away from purity, sincerity, clearness and purification, as well as from tauhid. All of the hypocrisy of acts and most of the cordial hypocrisies, are caused by the incompleteness of the unity of acts. The one who regards the weak and unfortunate people to be effective in this world, and occupying the domain of Allah, how can he regard himself in no need of attracting their hearts, and purge and purify his act from Satan's polytheism? You will have to make the spring clean so that clear water may come out of it, as otherwise, from a muddy spring you may not expect to get clear water. If you regard the hearts of Allah's servants to be at the disposal of Allah, and make your heart taste the meaning of: "O You Who change the hearts", and let your heart hear it, you, with all your weakness and helplessness, will not try to capture the hearts. If you made your heart understand the truth of " ... In His hand is the dominion of everything,"  "His is the [whole] dominion"  and "In His hand is the dominion,"  you will need not attract any hearts, nor think that you are in need of the weak hearts and the weak people, and you will attain to a state of cordial satisfaction. You felt yourself being in need of something, and took the people to be undoers of knotty problems, and thus you thought you needed to attract the hearts of the people, thinking that by pretending holiness, you would have at your disposal the hearts of the people. Hence, you needed to be a hypocrite. Had you taken Allah to be the solver of all difficulties, and that you do not have the universe at your disposal, you would not have needed those acts of polytheism.
O you, the polytheist who claim to be a monotheist! O you, an Iblis [a devil] appearing in the shape of a human being! You have inherited this legacy from the accursed Satan, who, thinking himself effective, calls out: "I'll lead them astray."  That wretched, miserable being is wrapped in veils of polytheism and self-conceit. Those who believe themselves and the world to be independent and not under management, neither controlled nor owned, have inherited that from Iblis's mischief. So, wake up from [your] deep sleep and convey to your heart the noble ayahs of the Divine Book, the Lord's Luminous Page. These great ayahs have been sent down for me and you to wake up, yet, we confine all our shares to reciting it in formal artistic intonation, disregarding its informative knowledge, until Satan overcomes and rules us such that we become under his control.
For the time being, we end the discourse here, leaving it for a later time. We shall, insha'allah, talk about the disciplines of recitation, opening the way for ourselves and for the servants of Allah to be benefited by the Glorious Qur'an, with Allah's permission and His good help. Was-salam [And that is an end to the matter].
. Surah Qasas: 56.
. Surah Fatir: 22.
. Surah an-Nur: 40.
[252a]. Refer to footnote No. 5.
. Surah ash-Shu'ara': 89.
. 'Usulul Kafi, vol. 3, p. 26, "Book of Faith and Disbelief', ch. on "Sincerity, hadith No. 5.
. "Those who claim to be in quest of it are uninformed" "The one who got an information did not come back." (by Sa'di)
. Al-Khisal , vol. 2, p. 352, ch. 7, hadith 33.
. Usulul Kafi, vol. 1, p. 59, "Book of the Merit of Knowledge", ch. on "The One Who Gains His Living from His Knowledge", hadith No. 6.
. Ibid., hadith No. 4.
. Surah Ya-Sin: 83.
. Surah al-Fatir: 13.
. Surah al-Mulk: 1.
. Surah Sad: 82.