Risala Dar Haqiqati Din




Risala dar Haqiqat-I Din

Translated into English




The present short treatise on the spirit of the fundamental principles of

Ismailism forms a useful introduction to the study of the Ismaili

doctrine in general, and especially as it developed in the Nizari school

of the sect. It was intended by its author to reach everybody, the

learned as well as the people of no great education, and therefore all

technicalities or abstract and difficult theories have been carefully

avoided. The author shows on many occasions a deep insight into the

nature of the religious life of the human soul, and here and there lays

open the most hidden psychological springs of the movement, in fact more

than many works extant do.

The author, the late Shihabu'd-din Shah, the son of the 47th Imam of the

Nizaris, Shah Ali Shah, was expected by many to succeed his father in his

high office. He is still remembered by the old men in Bombay and Poona

as a young man of outstanding ability and exceptional learning. Not only

was he greatly loved by the followers of his community, but he also

commanded the high esteem of a wide circle of Muhammadan society,

enjoying great respect even of his religious opponents. His premature

death in the end of Rajab 1302/beg. of May 1885, while he was still under

fory, did not permit the great expectations which were cherished by his

followers to materialize.

His present treatise was left unfinished. According to the author's own

statement in the end of it, it had to be divided into two parts. Only

the first, dealing with the explanation of the true conception of the

Ismaili principles, is found in the present autograph copy, which, most

probably, is a fair copy from the original drafts. There is no

information as to whether the second part, which was to explain the rules

of the pious and righteous life, was written. The first part forms a

complete treatise by itself, though there are found here and there

details which apparently were to receive a fuller treatment in the second

part. The style of the work generally bears many traces of hurry, and

contains many oversights. It is found on many occasions that a sentence

bigins in Plural and ends in Singular, and vice versa, or begins in the

second person, and ends in the third; some sentences are not quite

smooth. There are also occasional orthographical oversights, as, for

instance, occasional ki for ki, or khwastan for khastan, etc., though, on

the whole, they are very rare.

There are no subdivisions int babs or fasls in the original; in order to

facilitate the handling of the contents auxiliary headings indicating the

subject of each of the more or less self-contained sections have been

introduced in the translation.

The style of the treatise is remarkably plain and unpretentious. It has

the form of a long sermon rather than of a religious pamphlet. So much

was simplicity of style valued by the author that he omitted the Arabic

text of the numerous Coranic and hadith quotations, giving them in

Persian translation only.

But though completely dispensing with the bombast and stiltedness which

were so much cultivated by the Persian writers of his time, the author

did not give up the Sufic form, or tone, of his speculations. For many

centuries Ismailism in Persia had perforce to disguise its literature in

the Sufic garb. This tradition lasted for a long time, and Persian

Ismailis were probably quite accustomed to decipher its conventional

expressions, which could not mislead anyone. Conditions have since

changed very much. Though only a comparatively short period of sixty

years separates us from that of the author, a complete change has taken

place, and the modern generation is no longer familiar with Sufic

symbolism. When the author calls upon his followers to renounce the

world and to sever their connection with worldly pursuits, he by no means

recommends that all Ismailis should abandon their homes, and wander forth

as religious mendicants. What he means by his call to abandon the world

is that his followers must control their dependence upon material

comforts may easily become far in excess of what is proper. He

explicitly regards the proper discharge of one's duties and the honest

earning of one's subsistence by hard and meritorious work as highly

commendable ways of worshipping God.

Or, in another place (p. 68 of the autograph copy), the author advises

his followers "to abstain from acquiring the knowledge which is

incompatile with true piety," or "the science of the enemies." What that

"knowledge" is -the author, unfortunately, does not specify, and as he

constantly advises his followers to take up religious studies, the

impression may easily be created that he advocates abandoning the study

of everything except the Coran and the hadiths. But this is again only a

conventional form of expressing the idea that one should not devote his

thought to acquiring the information which is directed against the

foundations of piety and righteousness, and emanates from the enemies of

Ismailism, and generally from the enemies of relion and moral. It does

not mean that the advice which he gives prohibits the study of

mathematics, chemistry, medicine, and the other sciences which promote

the welfare of human society.

Such seeming inconsistencies can obviously be ascribed to the

circumstance that the treatise was never properly finished and revised.

Most probably they would have disappeared had the author lived to

complete his work and give it its final form.

The autograph copy, preserved in the library of Haji Musa Khan, one of

the attendants of the late Shihabu'd-din Shah, is an oblong note-book, of

the type which the Persians call bayad, comprising about 200 pages of

yellowish machine made paper, of which only 75 are occupied with the

treatise, the remainder being blank sheets. It is 8 3/4 by 4 1/4 inches

outside, the place occupied with the text measuring 6 1/2 by 2 3/4


In the translation which is here offered the original pagination has been

preserved, and carefully marked. An index of the names of persons and of

principle technical terms is appended in which references are made to the

original pagination.

The Persian text of this work, together with an English translation, was

published by myself in 1933 as No. 3 in the series of the Islamic

Research Association, Bombay. It evoked considerable interest in Ismaili

circles as can be seen from the fact that already in 1935 an Arabic

translation of it was published in Lattaquie, syria, by Shaykh Ahmad b.

Muhammad of the village Khurbatu'l-Faras, in the district of Tartus (32

pages in demy 8). As only a very limited number of copies has been

printed, the edition has long since become a bibliographical rarity.

Later on a Gujrati version, by Mr. Gwadaewalla, was published in monthly

instalments in the "Nizari," an Ismaili monthly in Gujrati, Bombay. The

whole translation was recently (10 August 1946) reprinted in another

Bombay Ismaili Gujrati magazine, "Al-Islah" (in the Africa Diamond

Jubilee Memorial issue).

"The Ismaili Society" of Bombay, whose aim is the promotion of the study

of Ismailism in general, have decided to publish a facsimile edition of

the autograph copy, and reprint a revised version of the English

translation with a new Gujrati version. The humane approach and deep

psychological insight of the author make his work extremely attractive to

the general reader while at the same time valuable to the serious student

who wants to understand the spirit of modern Ismailism as it developed in

Persia towards the close of the last century.

I have to acknowledge my feelings of profound gratitude to the President

and the Executive Committee of the "Ismaili Society" who very kindly

accepted this new publication for their series of the "Ismaili Works and


Bombay, October 1946.



(Risala dar Haqiqati Din)


In the name of God, the merciful, the Compassionate!

Says the humble slave of Hadrati Shahinshahi Agha Ali Shah, ---may my

spirit be sacrificed for him!-Shihabu'd-din al-Husayni: some brethren in

religion, whose desire I regard myself obliged to fulfill, have asked me

to write, in the form of a concise book, the principles which should

guide them in their lives, showing them the right way of moving amongst

their brethren in this world, that they may know, and, -if God

pleases,-comply with all counsels, thus obtaining peace of mind. [2]

With the help of God I was enabled to comply with their request.


The great Lord of Lord's (Mawla Ali), - upon whom be the blessings of

God, the King the All-High!--said that once the Prophet (blessings of God

be upon him) sent a party of his companions on a military expedition. On

their return, when they participated in a jihadi asghar, or the smaller

war in the cause of religion, and said that they still had to take up the

jihadi akbar, the greater war. Whereupon they inquired from the Apostle

of God: "What is the jihadi akbar?" And he replied that the most

glorious war is that which a man wages against his own vile instincts.

This is, indeed, the truth, -the blessings of God be upon him who said it!

Brethren in religion, ye who aspire to attain love and affection [3] for

the Lord, listen to me a while, hearken to the real meaning of the words

of the Prophet, and then reflect a littlw upon your own existence.

Perhaps some one amongst you may therein find some truth (falah) which

shall bless his life.

The real meaning of the great jihad is a war against one's own vile

instincts to bring them under control, so that those low passions which

constantly endeavor to deviate one's feet from the path of rectitude, in

opposition to the behest of reason, may cease to mislead one into acting

against the prescriptions of the true religion. It is one's duty to

bring the impulses of one's instincts under the control of one's reason,

training nature always to obey and to comply with the dictates of reason.

This constitutes the substance of what is called "salvation": in this

lies the true meaning of the expression siratu'l-mustaqim, i.e. the

bridge narrow as the edge of a sword which leads to Paradise. To bring

these instincts under control is to walk along the right path.

If God pleases, [4] we will explain this in the present treatise.

Brethren in religion! There are very many verses in the Coran, and very

many hadiths that deal with this question of purifying the instincts and

of correcting them. Amongst them is one in which God says: "He

acquireth the peace of mind who refineth his own nature". And verily

this is so, for there is no matter of greater importance than to purify

one's own self. Only by this may one hope to progress along the path of

rectitude, because there is no greater obstacle against success in this

direction than one's own lower instincts, which obstruct one's

fulfillment of the dictates of religious philosophy and the commandments

of the Divine religion. It is only when you bring this self under

control, carefully watching its movements, [5] lest it overpowers you

unaware, and tempts you to take a false step, that you are able to

advance slowly in the life of true virtue.

Hadrati Mawla explains what should be the devotion, obedience, and the

loyalty to the guiding principles amongst his followers, how they should

walk in the right path and bring their lower selves under control. He

says: "O, Creator, this is my disobedient self which I must force to

kneel (before Thee) just as I force to kneel and (obstinate) camel, tying

its knees by the rope of Thy will, so that it may not do anything that

does not coincide with Thy desire".

Remember, therefore, friends, that one must keep one's self under the

keenest surveillance, so as not to let it have one single moment of

opportunity to escape from control, and force its will upon one. If this

is not done, it may take one out of the way, overpower one's will,

raising its head from the Hell, and thus prevent one from attaining the

position of communion (maqami qurb) with God. It will not permit one to

attain all the good which the righteous can attain. For this reason one

has to make effort in order to find the proper way. [6]

It is said in the Coran (IX, 19): "Those who fight in the way of God, We

guide them on Our way". It is this way which is the siratu'l-mustaqim.

One has to keep away and restrain his nature from the worldly things

that it may covet, thus building up for oneself a kind of spiritual

treasure (dhakhira), never deviating from the main path into which

religion directs him.


Bear in mind, brother, that every one, even those of little intelligence,

should, in accordance with the behest of the Coran and the hadiths, if he

cares even a little about the future life, on rising from sleep each

morning, reflect upon his actions, taking account of his passions. Thus

he may realize, after reflecting a little, and seeing the world around,

how precious, [7] like the rarest pearls and jewels, is every moment of

his existence, -nay, rather priceless. Once lost, it is irretrievable,

indeed, and never returns. You can never imagine anything as precious as

life, each moment of it. Who can regain even a moment of life that has

passed? This is why I say that it is priceless, for what can replace it?

It is a kind of capital (naqd), by the investment of which one can

acquire the treasures of the mercy of God for oneself. You can build

your own salvation (akhirat) upon a single moment. In a single moment,

of which one makes a proper use, one can place oneself near to God, and

one can attain the possibility of contemplation of Food, just as he sees

(the ordinary things) in this world.

If you realize the value (of life), and keep yourself ready, [8] you can

make a bargain with such a single moment, gaining imperishable profit.

It will never be lost for you, never diminishing. So do not waste time,

do not live in a state of perpetual indebtedness. If you waste your

time, or throw your energy in paths which do not lead to anything good,

wasting opportunities in a foolish manner, -you will lose everything.

Have you ever heard of a clever merchant who spent his time in trade

which did not bring him any profit, and even involved the loss of his

capital, or actually lost it? Think, therefore, for yourselves, friends,

and say to yourselves : I want [9] my capital (to be used) in the trade

by which I can obtain the profit of eternal life. What are these few

days of life which pass, and from which nothing substantial can be

derived? Really, all that part of my life which has past so far, is

nothing but a loss from my original capital; this day, this very moment

must I value as the most precious advantage, because it is still another

day, holing of my end, which is postponed. If this day, or moment, were

not given to you as a respite, would not you too be amongst the dead, and

then would not you covet this very day, this very moment as many people

would do who now are dead while only yesterday they were living. Have

you any doubt that if you would have died yesterday, you would regret

very much about the life which you had lost? Appreciate, therefore,

while you still have it, the priceless gift which [10] to-day God has

given you. Do devote it to the worship of God, because this short period

of your life may reduce to nothing all that was before. Seize the

opportunity to perform some righteous deed that will be your

justification, so that in the next life you may not be in the same

position as those who feel ashamed of themselves.

Do you not in this world see that many who commit a shameful act, which

becomes known to others, how much they are tortured by feelings of shame

and disgust? How then will you feel when everyone, even the prophets and

the angels, will know all the shameful acts which you have committed

during forty years or more of your life, -what will be your feelings



But what should you do to avoid this? That I will explain to you further

on, if God please.

Taking up this question, we may mention that it is said in the Coran [11]

(XX111,102), that on the Day of Judgement some of the sinful will say to

God: "O, Creator! Let us go again into the world, -this time we will be

devout and obedient". But God will reply to them that they are

deceivers, -for as soon as they return to life they will do the same

things. Tell yourselves therefore, that this very day is the day which

God has granted as a respite to you, sending you back to the earth to

rectify your misdeeds, complying with your prayer to return you to this

world. Regard every moment as a precious jewel of great price, and do

all that you would do if you lay at the point of death, -do not postpone


Brother, think not that I tell you these things merely to harass you;

think not that you are unable to do anything as you have to attend the

matters of the affairs of this world, of the daily bread and domestic

affairs. [12] No, you can do this. You can remain faithful to the

command of God, to be His servant while keeping the affairs of this world

in a flourishing condition, even in a better order than usual.

The great religious authorities have divided the day and the night into

three equal parts, each eight hours long. And if you do the proper

things which are prescribed for each part of the day and night, you will

succeed in your spiritual progress as well as in your worldly affairs.

One part is assigned for sleep, food, and domestic affairs. One is to

be spent in following the occupation in earning one's subsistence. And

one part is to be devoted to the worship of God, whose object is the

attainment of the salvation and eternal life.

It is said in a hadith: "Ye, mankind, are [13] created for perpetuating

creation, not for its annihilation and destruction". For this reason you

must sever the ties which bind you to the affairs of this world, and

hasten to attain that world, to do some work which may become the

"capital" of your future salvation, when you will collect the profit

accruing on it, in the future life. This world is the earth, and the

future life is the crop. Whatever you have sown in this, that you will

reap in the next (life). Therefore, if you have failed in your resolve,

permitting yourself to swerve from obedience to God, you have wasted your

opportunity, and from this field you will not reap any crop. Your

position will then be like to that of a bankrupt, who deplores his folly

when it is too late to do anything.

[14] How much does such a condition differ from that of those who have

in their lives built a sound here after (akhirat), by obeying all the

commands that have been laid upon them. They reap the harvest of their

pure and meritorious lives, and receive priceless jewels for their former

efforts. They can see that these are much better than those which they

sacrifice. They have made a profit, gained much, gathered the results of

their labors, and know where they are.


Know also, brother, that there is a great difference between reason

('aql) on the one side, and instinct, or the subconscious mind, nafs, on

the other. If you know this difference, and realize it at the right

time, you will never meet with any difficulty in any matter, because you

will know how to act, always remaining on the "direct path", the

siratu'l-mustaqim. Reason, [[15] 'aql, is the faculty which always shows

you the right way, not permitting you to stray from it. Reason is what

you have to worship God with, gaining the blessing of eternal life, of

entrance into Paradise, and a permanent abode in it.

Nafs, or the subconscious and emotional self, is the opposite of Reason.

If you consider it properly, and reflect a little, you will find that it

is the real enemy of yur entire self, not obly of Reason, -a powerful

adversary. Though ordinarily one must obey the dictates of Reason, one's

nafs distracts him, obstructing the way and keeping one in conflict with

the dictates of one's Reason, preventing one from becoming nearer to God.

Even if sometimes the nafs shows one the way of devotion, this may be

against the will of God. It is an inimical principal, which does not

permit one to attain the desired goal. It invents all possible obstacles

[16] in the path. It come up in the dress of a friend, -a real wolf in a

lamb's skin. Insinuating itself, it persuades you to commit mischief.

Of what use are then yours woes and wails?

God has left amongst you a Guide, or "Proof", hujjat, who shows the right

way which you have to follow. If you do not follow it, this is your own

fault. Understand then once and for all the difference between these

two, between the friend and the enemy, and then do not step off the road.

It is said in the Coran: "We have shown thee the way of good and the way

of evil". And in another place there is another reference to the same

matter: "We have pointed to the man the way on which he may be restful".

Thus either accept with profound gratitude this great blessing [17] and

follow the right way, or, if you fail to realize its value, you have to

be with the unbelievers (kafir), who close their eyes to the necessity

for the grateful appreciation of the blessing of God, and thus go the

wrong way.

Verily, what blessing is greater and more desirable than to feel oneself

on the right path, the "straight road" (siratu'l-mustaqim), and thus

being safely guided, saved from errors, clearly seeing the right (haqq)

from the wrong (batil), and abstaining from it? If you realize the great

value of this, and if you apply this your knowledge whenever you are in a

difficult position, you will never act wrongly, always knowing what to


It is for you to decide, which way you will follow, reason ('aql), or the

lower self (nafs); it is for you to choose. Only realize that what

deviates you from the right way, and keeps you from obedience to God, is

the nafs. [18] And you cannot image what misfortunes may come from

following the temptations of the nafs.

If you stray into the path of evil, if you do not observe the

prescriptions of religion, if you be ungrateful for the great blessing of

life, or existence, which is given to you, and even go so far as to hold

religion in contempt, committing the sin of obstanate ingratitude,

kufran, or suppose that the way suggested by the desires of your lower

self is the right way of acting, -then, after all this, you may stray so

far as to become one of those who are outside the true religion. The

more you follow the impulses of your lower self, nafs, the more you will

stray from the only true way, so far, indeed, that gradually you may come

to the state when you act contrary to your own avowed intentions. The

poet says well: "It is the mirror which is turned to the West, -Thy face

is turned towards the East. So I am, alas, going away from Thee."

Thus, if you have the power to see, or think properly about yourself, you

may notice that you are not followers of the religion, because [19]

worship really means obedience to its dictates. And if you obey the

impulses of your lower self, this means that you were worship it; but if

you worship it, it means that you do not worship God. This is why I said

that your lower self is an enemy, pretending to be your friend, but in

reality misleading you. The Coran speaks clearly about this: "Hast thou

seen those who have taken as their deity their own instincts and

impulses, which are the same as the habits of beasts?" You obey them,

and worship them, giving up following reason, which cause you to follow

the right way and abandoning the manner of angles.

If you do this, then see what happens, and how much shame and disgrace

you invoke upon yourselves. Think over this carefully. How many people

condemn the Hindus [20] for their worshipping idols. They do not know

what the Hindus worship. But to worship one's own bad habits is thousand

times worse than to worship a stone. These bad habits are the same as

those of beasts, and it is these that you worship.

This is why I said that it brings complete ruin, like complete bankruptcy

in trade, just as it is said in the Coran (IV, 118): "He loses with a

manifest loss".

Do realize, brother, that your way is one only, viz, the right way.

Those whom you see in this world, they have strayed from it. IT is

quite immaterial whether one strays a little, or much, just as it is

quite immaterial for a man who is drowned whether there is very little

water over his head, or as much [21] as in the deepest sea.

Strive not to deviate from the right path even a little, do not permit

the devil to deceive. If the lower self overpowers you, subjecting you

to its caprices, they you will become miserable, a helpless toy in the

hands of a wicked enemy, worshipping it, and slavishly complying with its

unceasing demands. What reply then will you give to the voice of God

what will you answer to the words of God (XXXVI, 60): "Men, did not I

make a covenant with you that you will not serve the devil? He is verily

your open enemy".

Everyone who easily obeys the caprices of his lower self, the Evil one,

must be prepared to answer this question of God. Therefore, brother, do

not become [22] infatuated with the things of the world that you possess.

Suppress the impulses of your lower self, and do not tie up so much your

thought with the matters of the worldly life. Realize that if you do not

permit the external world to trample you under its feet, you will command

it. It is said in the Coran that all that is found in the heaven and the

earth, is under your command. This means that those who can understand

properly can see that this is true.

Reflect, brother, and understand what great wealth is give to you, for

which you must be thankful. And if you cannot make yourself obedient,

and want to cease further efforts, I will tell you that man must have in

this world a leader (pishwa). But above this more will be said in its

proper place. If I say: keep away from the matters of this world, -this

means that you must take hold of the assistance of the person, for whose

existence [23] all the things of this world have been created. With his

help they may be subdued to you. Reflect, what is better, -to covet

these things which, after all, will master you, or to be obedient to one

person only, and, by the means of this obedience, to become the master of

all things.


It is said in the hadith: "O, Muhammad, if not for thy sake, We would

not have created this world". This means that all was created and came

into existence for his sake. And in another place it is said: "If there

was no Ali, We would not have created thee (Muhammad)". Thus it is clear

that the purpose of the creation of the world was to make known that

manifestation of the Divine Beauty and Perfection who is in possession of

all His attributes. Where is the eye to see and to understand this,

following the path of reason?

It is plainly stated in the Coran that if the Prophet would not have

openly professed his (Ali's) walaiat, i.e. that is Saintship, [24] his

prophetic mission should remain incomplete: "O, Prophet bring to

humanity the message that We entrusted to thee, and if thou dost not

deliver it, thou wilt not fulfill thy mission". Thus the creation of the

world, the sending of the prophets, the revelation of the sacred books,

-all these were intended in order that humanity could know him, "about

whom We have spoken, through every Prophet, and who became manifested at

the time of Muhammad". This matter will also be discussed in its proper


Now it would be best to explain to you, brothers in religion, what is the

"higher knowledge", ma'rifat, in order that everything should be clear,

if God please, so that you may understand the matter in following which

even the reason of the clever can become perplexed.

Do realize, brother, that (in every nation) nobody is equal to the

sultan, indeed; his subjects [25] know for certain that for them there is

no choice to obey him. Surely, sultans in this world possess the wealth

and power to reward and punish. But as the world itself is frail and

transient, so is their authority also transient. They can only reward

one with wealth which is not eternal, or punish one with penalties that

are not eternal, for all that is in their power is transient.

On the other hand, the kings of ma'rifat, i.e. those who posses the

Divine knowledge, have their own subjects who have to follow their

command. These (have to follow the orders) to attain the benefits of

eternal life; they have His promise of future life (akhriat), which is an

everlasting treasure, or eternal Divine mercy. Is there [26] then anyone

who is sane, to prefer things transient to things eternal, or to accept

some temporary advantage in exchange for eternal punishment? It is said

in the Coran (IX, 112): "Verily God hath bought of the faithful their

souls and properties, giving them Paradise in exchange".

Brother, do not underestimate that priceless gift, -of life; look

properly what you give and what you receive in exchange; see that they

take from you what is frail, and give in exchange what is lasting. You

must be glad, therefore, to have such a transaction with God. You know

that it is useless to grasp the things that are transient, losing all in

the eternal life. But you spurn attachment to the things of this world,

all of them come under your control, because your renouncement [27] is

dictated by obedience to God. Not by fear, or expectations of reward.

This is said by those who are in love with the beauty of the truth.

Understand this, and remember this.

The lord of martyrs (i.e. Imam Husayn) says: 'O, God, I have given up my

life (zamana) and my family out of love for Thee; I cam to thee, dooming

my wives and children to remain widows and orphans. i e wanted to see

the vision of Thy Perfection. And even if Thou wilth crush me to pieces,

my heart, full of affection will never be hardened for anything except

for Thee.'

Think properly and note, how steadfast was he in his resolution, and

neglect of this world; to what extent was he determined. This is the

meaning of the real overpowering of the world.

Now you have seen that one must be obedient subject of his King, God,

whose commands one has to obey. Now that we are speaking about ma'rifat,

or higher religious wisdom, listen to this, about aobedience.

Brother, obedience (ita'at) [28] is the same thing as devotion ('ibadat),

and devotion is the basis of the religious knowledge (ma'rifat). In the

created world devotion and religious wisdom constitute its (spiritual)

basis. It is said in the Coran itself (LP, 56): "And I have not created

the jinn and mankind save that they may worship Me". And it is also

related that God said: "I was a hidden treasure, and wanted to become

manifest, so I created the mankind in order that they may acquire

knowledge of Me".

Great men of religion regarded worship and religious wisdom (ma'rifat),

as one and the same thing. And now we come to our original question. I

do not know how and what should I tell you so that you may understand it.

Brother, know that the world is overcome with darkness, oppression by

enemy, everything has to go through hard trials, people are in turmoil,

all are being scattered in different directions, each man conceiving his

own idea. Some people follow ignorant men who are merely thieves and

swindlers on the [29] highways. Whatever was righteous and true, they

adopted a hostile attitude towards it. Hearts gradually became black,

ears deaf; the language of reason ceased to be understood, -it is

impossible to address a crowd of the deaf, as they will not hear. But,

brother, there is the voice of reason, and if you can hear it, come and

hear it, come and hear, for otherwise you cannot understand the real

meaning of religion: "Words are as penetrating as sharp as steel swords;

If thou hast no shield, better run back".

6. (IMAM)

Now, with the help of God, I will tell you what has come down to us about

the higher religious wisdom, ma'rifat, from the great saints of the


One has to follow them in the questions of ma'rifat; and this is what

they said: "Do not discuss vainly the question of the Substance of God".

Now, brothers, summon all your intelligence, concentrate all your

attention, -and let [30] God help me to explain this; to you -to

understand this: it is an important and very difficult matter.

No one can dispute that there is a great difference between different

people with regard to their intellect, just as there is great difference

between them with regard to their appearance. You can see that some are

taller or shorter than others, some have darker or lighter complexions.

Just in the same way they differ in the principal and secondary features

of their character, as you may see. They are das different with regard

to their inner features as they differ in the outer form, -the outside

(zahir) always depends on the inside (batin). How is it possible to talk

to a child in the same way as one would talk to a clever adult? The child

will never have patience nor intelligence to listen to this, and to

understand this: "How can a jug comprise the sea?" And "one builds his

home to suit his taste".

It is owing to this difference of the mentality of different individuals

[31] that many hadiths which have come down to us, on this subject, are

so extremely difficult. None can understand them properly except a

prophet on his mission ( nabi-i mursal), or a cherubim (malaki muqarrab),

or a really faithful devotee (mu'min) whose heart has been tested by God

for its faith. If you try yourself in your hearts and your souls, then,

as is said, -"come through our door, if thou art a seeker after eternal


It is prohibited in religion to meditate on the subject of the attributes

(sifat) of God. If you imagine something so lofty that you cannot think

of anything beyond it, this means that it is the limit of your own

fantasy, not that you have really attained some final idea:

"All that is beyond thy imagination,

Is merely the limit of thy fantasy, not God".

"Wisdom can attain a knowledge of His Substance

Only in the case if a piece of straw can sink to the bottom of the sea"

Attribute, or property (sifat) means something in any one that can be

noticed [32] and described as being attributed to the person. Thus you

can recognize one by this sign, as explained. And if you are ordered not

to meditate (abour the nature of God), it is in order that you should not

become confused, as, in any case, you are unable to know His properties.

You see that in reality people speaking about God (Haqq), attribute to

Him any such (perfections) as they can imagine. For instance, regarding

blindness as a defect, they say about God that He sees everything. They

regard stupidity as a defect, and thus say that God is Wise. Thus

whatever they find in themselves as a vice and defect, they attribute to

God a perfection opposite to that. Imami Sajjad (i.e. Zaynu'l-abidin)

says in a hadith, which he relates from the Prophet, that people became

too inquisitive towards the end of Muhammad's life, and then the chapter

of the Coran (CXIV) "Say: God is One" was revealed. All those things

that you attribute to God from your imagination come out your fantasy.

Most probably even animals create [33] their own God free from their own

defects, ascribing to Him (the opposite) perfections.

Imam Muhammad Baqir says that the tiny ant probably imagines his god as

having two stings, because it regards the possession of only one sting

as a defect.

If so, it is necessary (wajib) to follow those religious Leaders

(pishwayan), who simply say: "We are the properties of God". Realize,

brother, that it is they who see, they who listen. The ordinary mortals

are unable to do anything except obey orders. It is said: "who knows

me, knows God", -note this properly, brother. We need here a clear

example which should make it easy to understand this: -the light that

emanates from the lamp obviously is not the lamp itself; but if there

were no light, [34] would you know what a lamp is, and where it stands?

Thus it is (only) through the light that you can perceive the lamp, you

know the lamp from the light.

I will give you another example, still more obvious: whenever you want

to explain what is the sun, what can you do except simply show the sun?

The sun is the only example of its kind. Thus if you want to see the

sun, see itself:

"If you ask for a proof, do not disregard it".

Thus they, the Saints of God, are the manifest form of God (surati zahiri

Khuda). Facts contain indications, but people read about them, and do

not understand. They say: "blessing be on Thee, O shining image of God,

O Thou, the generous hand of God! O Thou, the blood of God (sic!), the

son of the blood of God (sic!)". Thus it is obvious that they are the

properties of God [35] and that you are ordered to know them, as

recognition of them exactly means the knowledge of God.

Then realize the meaning of the hadith in which it is said that any one

who dies without having known the Imam of his time, dies as an

unbeliever, or idolater. Who does not know his Imam, does not know God.

As we have seen, people are different, and it is with regard to the

difference of their mentality that any one talks to them in accordance

with their capacity of understanding. Thus it was said to some of them

that no eye can see Him, or that He is beyond comprehension even of the

wisest, just as He is invisible. It is simply because their capacity of

understanding does not grasp the truth. But that manifestation of the

Greatness and of the Perfection of God, i.e. the Commander of the

Faithful, "Ali, says: "I would never worship God if I had not seen Him".

And if you realize the difference between the intellects and

personalities [36] of different people, you may listen to some imbeciles

who, having no means to understand this, talk pretentiously about

ma'rifat, or the higher religious wisdom. It was said to them: O ye,

mud, mixed with mud, and never rising above mud, and with face covered

with mud, ye, whose nature is mud, who are born and living in mud, what

can you understand in the world of purity? Yes, the body of dust, which

in its every atom consists of dust, composed of dark and solid elements

(tira wa zulmani), even conceiving a very great idea, can only imagine

things that are connected with his body of dust, i.e. physical self.

Everything that he imagines above this, also belongs to the created

world, like himself. He cannot imagine or know anything beyond this.

Only those people who have purified their reason, heart, and

imagination, by a long struggle with their nafs, or lower self, may

attain more vision for their inner eye, may make their ears capable of

listening to what others do not hear, and may see, understand and hear

(what ordinary people cannot). How can one [37] say things to

everybody, and how can they all listen to, see, and understand

everything? Only those can do this who could witness this by the "eye of


What may be a satisfactory attainment for an ordinary man, and what may

be his pride, may be a poor achievement for others. It is said that what

may be acceptable from the good, may be regarded as a sin when done by

the chosen ones. People of no spiritual vision are quite virtuous when

they merely attest the existence of God, and (life after) death. But

this is entirely insufficient, and even sinful, when those who possess

the higher religious knowledge (ma'rifat), are concerned. Just as when a

baby does something, it may be very clever for its age, and quite natural

to it. But it would be quite natural to it. But it would be quite a

different matter if an adult does the same thing, -his action surely will

appear utterly ridiculous and stupid.

Imam Husayn in one of his prayers says: "O, Creator, is there any one

manifest by the side of Thee [38] who should make Thee manifest? How can

Thou be hidden so that Thou shouldst need some special proof of Thy

existence? How canst Thow be so distant from man that now people should

call me to Thee, and try to make me to attain Thy presence? Let every

eye be blind that cannot see Thee! Ruined be the capital in the trade of

the man who, owing to his own selfishness, has not given in his heart a

place and attention to his Friend."

Imam Ja'far Sadiq once replied to a man who asked him whether it is true

that at the Day of Resurrection God will become visible to all?" Yes",

-said he, -"He is visible even before that day. He is visible to His

slaves from the day when He asked them: "am I not your Lord?" Do not

you see Him?" The man who asked the question then replied: "O my Lord,

I see thee! Give me the permission to tell this (to others) on thy

authority". The Imam replied: "do not tell this to anybody, because

people are stupid and ignorant, [39] they shall disbelieve you, regarding

this as impiety (kufr)".

Seeing with one's heart is different from seeing with one's eyes. Know,

brother, that his matter was always kept hidden from the unreliable

people, and only a few trusted ones were admitted to learn it. And if

one who is in possession of the Truth (ahli haqiqat) were found

somewhere, the people would abuse him, or ridicule him. This is because,

as we said above, the ears of people have become deaf, and the tongue of

persuasion has become silent.

Imam Zaynu'l-abidin, explaining a verse of poetry, says: "I always hide

the precious jewel of my knowledge because the ignorant do not see or

recognize the truth-they are incapable of realizing its value. In the

past my grandfather Abu'l-Hasan (i.e. 'Ali ibn Abi Talib) possessed this

knowledge, but kept It hidden, and bequeathed this to Imam Husayn, and

before him to Imam Hasan, [40] to keep it secret. There are many

precious and pure jewels of knowledge, but if I devulge them I may be

charged with idolatry. Perhaps some fanatics may even attempt to murder

me, thus committing a heinous crime. They may murder me under the

impression that they are doing a good thing."

The Commander of the Faithful (Ali ibn Abi Talib) said: "I know many

things which, if divulged, would appear to you so exciting that they

would stir you like a lose rope, which is lowered into a deep well, stirs

water in it, yet fails to reach its bottom".

He added: "I treated the people of this world as a bird that follows a

flight of other birds: started when all [41] started, flew in a

formation so that none obstructed the other". But consider what he

suffered in spite of all this from the people of his time! and yet in

spite of his concealment of his knowledge, it spread as you may see as

the light of Divine greatness and glory. This matter demands much


If you consider this matter dispassionately, and think over it properly,

you will find a strange thing. The knowledge was concealed by himself

(i.e. by 'Ali) and his descendants: his supporters, even if they could

learn anything, would keep it secret from fear of molestation at the

hands of his enemies; and his enemies, even if they could learn anything,

would keep it secret from hatred and envy. Yet in spite of all this

concealment the mystery became known from the heaven to the earth! Where

is the eye which is so blind as to be unable to see this, to realize

this, and to know this.

Brothers, I do not know what was this Manifestation, and how it came into

existence. [42] O our Lord, O Ultimate Cause of Creation, O final

Purpose of Creation, -what wert Thou, O impenetrable Mystery? How didst

Thou bring Thyself into existence? Thou, Light of Truth, how didst

Thou reveal Thyself in such a way that every thought in the world became

astounded! What substance dost Thou manifest that from Thy emanations

the voice of the praising angels was created from the atoms of the

limitless space! Blessed be Thou, O Eternal Beauty! Blessed be Thou,

who hast concealed Thyself, and yet art so universally apparent! So much

that many called Thee God! Verily, if Thou wouldst lift this veil from

Thyself, even the eyes of the blind would be opened, and they would

become wizards by this light. How then would humanity find Thee, how

could they see, and what should they say!

Though poets are generally very blind, yet there are some corners under

the Divine Throne to which the tongue of poets is the key. This is the

meaning of the hadith in which it is said that some topics are suitable

[43] subjects of their fantasy.

Brother, this instructive treatise is written by me for the people who

possess the faith. I have no other purpose except to show them the right

path. I do not address it except to the people who follow Truth (ahli

Haqq). If my forefathers had not spoken addressing the believers in

Truth (ahli Haqq), I would not address them also. But as my forefathers

(the blessing of God be upon them!) did so, so I also had to speak. I do

not argue with any one about the truth of his religious persuasion, -let

everyone believe in what he likes.

God the Almighty says: "Verily God is not dependent on the world", i.e.

He is not in need of anything from His creatures. And if they have no

need of Him, -it is their own business.

Our Lord (i.e. 'Ali ibn Abi Talib) says that the Prophet had delivered

his message, and, being entrusted with the outer side of religion (zahir)

he carried on the war for religion (jihad). "And I (i.e. Mawla 'Ali) am

concerned with the batin, or the deeper meaning of religion." He

explained the meaning of batin in different ways. [44] As is found in

the well-known tradition, -"if Abu Dharr would know what is in the heart

of Salman, he would regard him as an unbeliever', or, as is said in

another place, - he would kill him. It suffices to know that in every

epoch or a (millennial) period of time there is, and always was a

manifestation of the Deity, from the time of Adam, and even before Adam,

and till the time of the Final Prophet (i.e. Muhammad). It is present

even now in the world, as it was said to you. Only the accursed ones and

the devils posing as pious men strictly attached to religion, always

prevent people from seeing this, misleading them from the right path, and

dooming them to damnation.

Brother, to walk by circuitous paths (often) means not to reach the

destination. whoever deviates from the straight road, never reaches his

aim. It is the same whether he deviates from it for the distance of many

thousand years, from its first station, or he abandons it later on, and

strays from it. People are different in their destinty: [45] some of

them do not strike the right road at all, others go along it for a

distance, and then stop as the lame. The Jews stopped on it, being

persuaded by their religious leaders who were concerned only with their

own material advantage. They revealed some knowledge, but later on they

misled the people from the road, and never struck it again. The

Christians also erred in their way, and remained behind.

If you look properly, you will see that every one was misled both by the

incorrectness of religion, but by the ill-will of the lovers of material

pleasures. These unfortunate people strayed, not knowing what was the

purpose of creation, who they were themselves, from where they came, and

where they had to go.

The Arabian Hashmite Prophet (God bless him and his posterity) said that

his successors, the members of his family (ahli Bayt), cannot be

separated from the Coran which is (the book) showing the difference

between what is right (haqq) and what is wrong (batil); by these his

people may return to him, at the tank of Kawthar. He said: [46] "And

these two sacred and pure things I leave amongst you as a security. So

long as you cling to these, you will never be lost on you way after me."

But in spite of this commandment of the Prophet the selfish people

became preoccupied with other matters, forgetting all about the command

concerning the 'close relatives', 'itrat, of the Apostle of God, straying

away from the right path and falling for ever into the pit of temptations

and depravity. They did not realize whose manifestations were Adam and

the other Prophets, and for what purpose they were sent. They followed

their way blindly, and lost it ultimately, thus missing their


This is why it is said: "I was hidden with all the Prophets, because the

world was not yet ready. But now that the world is prepared, and the

people are capable of understanding, I became apparent with Muhammad."

O God, my purpose is to express myself in such a way that my words should

be clear and easy to understand, concisely and plausibly conveying my

meaning. I am afraid [47] that this subject may be somewhat long to deal

with. Because even if I write on it till the day of the Resurrection,

how can I do justice to a subject of such importance?

Do understand that the Word of God (kalima'i Haqq) is only one. Open

your ears and eyes, and then you will be able to understand not only a

single book, but thousands of books.

Ye who are in love with the Truth! Only out of affection for you did I

begin speaking to you, praying for His help! Look at the sun, the moon,

and the stars which continuously move in their eternal paths; the day

goes, and the night arrives, and again the morning dawns, and evening

descends; the world becomes old, and then revives; those who must come,

come, and pass on, and things that did not exist come into existence.

Every day new workers come to the task regardless of how many of them

were not there, and come but to go again.

If it were destined that a Manifestation (zahur) of the Divine Substance

should take place at some time, what should be the fault of those who

were not yet born at that time? [48] Or of those who lived befor it, or

did not recognize it? What have they to do, and how can people find the

way of Truth, how can they follow it?


It is obvious, therefore, that there must be in the world a Supreme

Leader (rah-nand) at every time, every moment. Humanity are like

children, -they may be clever in their own way, and yet there are many

things that are beyond their power of comprehension. Therefore they need

a teacher, who may give them necessary knowledge. Even as an adult,

however aged he may be, needs a guide in the matters in which he had no

previous experience. Thus there is a great need for a guide to help the

people at every time or moment, if God wishes to lead all who are

continuously being born, to the knowledge of His light. And He Himself

revealed that he does wish this; "God leads to His Light those whom he

wants to lead". Times differ one from the other, every period of time

has its own destinies and history. The leader of humanity is one who

commands some things and prohibits other things in accordance with the

requirements of the time. [49] But in the continuous change of life

which never stops, if the Divine Manifestation 9zuhur) is to take place

in an ordinary mortal body, the latter, inevitably, has to become old and

worn out, like clothes of man, and ultimately it would be necessary to

replace it with a new one.

Ordinary people whose duty is only to obey the command of God, have no

capacity to act as they wish or to elect (as their leader) any one whom

they want, disregarding the real one. Leadership, which is the real

meaning of the term Imamat, obviously is a matter of the greatest

importance, which cannot be left to the decision of the mob.

Muhammad and 'Ali both were manifestations of one and the same Divine

Light, but they came in two different persons (libas, -dress) in order to

uphold each other's mission amongst humans, and in order to introduce

each other to other people. However, the people did not recognize them.

Salman Farsi said in Persian, on the day when Abu Bakr was in appearance

(zahir) elected khalif: "kardid-na-kardid", i.e. "you have done this, and

yet you have not done it". He meant that they had appointed a lieutenant

to the Prophet, and yet, [50] in reality, nothing had been done. But

this is a long story, O, God!

The sacred Light which manifested in Muhammad and 'Ali continued in the

world through Fatima, in her sons, Hasan and Husayn, and no power in the

world can extinguish this Light. It is said: "they wanted to extinguish

the Light of God, but God brings His light through, to the end", i.e. to

the completion of its mission.

Even if traitors and apostates dislike this, how can this Light disappear

from the world? Or how should it return to its Source without

accomplishing what it was destined to accomplish?

Therefore those people who are born later, what have they to do, and whom

have they to follow, so as not to stray from the right path? And even if

they do not recognize it, and want only go on a wrong path, God,

nevertheless, has to send a Guide (hujjat) who should be always with


Brother, the word of the Truth is one, and the road to the Truth is one.

The prophet said at the time of his demise: "this book (the Coran), and

this my posterity ('itrat) should never be separated, till the day of

Resurrection." [51]

Do not imagine, however, that all members of the Hashimite tribe, or even

all descendants of the Prophet, the Sayyids, are the 'itrat, the "close

relations". In truth, many Sayyids have become Sunnites, -what have they

to do with the Imamat and the leadership on the right path? Imamat is a

matter of a different nature. When Abraham received his title of the

Friend of God, Khalilu'l-lah, he was told: "We have appointed thee the

Imam of the people". He asked: "Should the office remain also with my

posterity?" The reply was: "My covenant with regard to the Imamat will

not fall into the hands of the wicked. All people who claim to be your

close associates cannot be appointed Imams, for many of them have no real


Therefore the meaning of the 'itrat, or the (rightful) successors,

belongs only to the legitimately appointed successors, awsiya. It is

they who can show the right path, and who rightfully, from father to son,

have inherited their rank of leader.

As you can see every day, the crowd flocks after some individual, for no

other purpose than to show its hostility to us. It is the devil who

mixes with the crowd which is as stupid as a calf, [52] cheats them and

destroys their faith, in one after another.

Verily, if every one could be treated as a lieutenant (wasi) of the

Prophet, and a member of the 'itrat, then why was it that at the time of

the Imams, when there were also many other Sayyids, the latter were not

regarded by the faithful as their leaders? It is Shaytan who sometimes

disguises himself as a pious man, who strictly follows the prescriptions

of sharia't, devoting much time to prayer, fast, etc. But in spite of

this, he sees that there are many faithful who, nevertheless, follow the

rightful successors of the Prophet (awsiya), as is their right, and as it

was appointed by God. His (Devil's) innate envy, and constitutional

hatred towards them prevents him to come in their guise, and to cheat and

mislead people, directing them to Hell. See, how many people are seduced

from the covenant of the Prophet by Shaytan, who appears to them in so

many disguises, helped by his associates; see how he nets the unfortunate

dupes in his snare, making them all perish and go to Hell.

O, God, these words (about the 'itrat) were the last words that the

Prophet has uttered before he died.

And then [53] the people who were entirely absorbed in the matters of

this world, and who might be expected to be its real masters, could do

nothing better than to mislead a number of fools. Even now you can see

how these wolves in lambs' skins treat the unfortunate and stupid sheep.

The people are like a flock of sheep, and the shepherd is to show their

way. But those who worship nothing but material pleasures, and who hate

those who seek after the Truth (ahli Haqq), they, whenever there is an

opportunity, seduce the people, coming like thieves disguised like the

shepherd of the flock, or wolves who appear like lambs. They are devout

in appearance, exhibit all the signs of piety, all only in order to

deceive the people. There is no scarcity of villains, chears and thieves

in any dress; they steal the faith in such a dexterous way that you do

not even notice it, and you follow them with all confidence.

If the [54] unfortunate bird could distinguish between the ordinary seed,

and that which forms the snare, why should it come into the net, and even

lead other birds after itself, -those who flock into the snare seeing

there one of their species? Brother, do not stray from the right path at

every slight provocation. If you cannot see properly where is the road

and where the pit, you will surely fall into the pit. Do not take off

your hand from your guide until the heard has reached the tank of kawthar

to quench its thirst. Only then can you see how many in the herd have

followed the shepherd, and quenched their thirst at last, and how many

followed the thief pretending to be the shepherd, and perished never

reaching the water. Do you really think that these people have anything

true in the position? They pretend to know the right path by uttering

(the formula of) four words in Arabic, by the mere movement of their

tongues. [55] All this is a lie, -they are mere tricksters, showing you

something that does not really exist. But when you watch them, you

cannot get away from the impression that what you see really is so. If

you had their implements and knew their art, you would realize that there

is nothing in it; but, as you do not know this, you believe that they

posses some special ability which other people have not, and that what

they say is true.

My friend, listen to what the real Leader (rah-nama) says, and never

disobey his orders; do not permit the tricksters and thieves to fool you,

-they are nothing, but thieves.

The Commander of the Faithful said: "Not everyone who has courage (qalb)

is acute. You cannot tell a thief from his appearance, -he has the same

head, eyes, ears, etc., as other people have, and you have yourselves,

-then [56] are not you thieves? It is said: not every daring man is

reasonable, just as not everyone who has good sight can see the mysteries

of religious knowledge, nor everyone who hears well can hear the truth of

ma'rifat. I may tell you even more: these wicked people are even below

the level of the ordinary man. It is said in the Coran: " They have

hearts with which they do not feel anything, they have eyes which do not

see, and ears which do not hear. They are like beast, nay, more

miserable, and stupid than beasts"(VII, 178). Why then should you follow

them, who are like beasts or imbeciles, and why should you not follow

Perfect Men (I insani kamil)? I cannot understand the people who did not

follow the Prophet, and do not obey his lieutenant. They follow only

their bestial impulses, and think that the Divine orders are only those

which they know. All that they cannot understand, [57] they entirely

reject. They represent the Divine Will as if it follows their own

inventions (khayal-ha), everyone inventing something of his own,

falsifying a hadith, or tradition (naql), attributing his own falsehoods

to Imams. What enormous mischief have these people really done! They

neglect the indications (hujjat) given by God, inventing a profusion of

proofs themselves.

It is related that Our Lord (hadrati Mowla) said: "Did God command these

people to introduce so many differences into religion, and have they

obeyed His command, or did God command them to avoid these differences

and discord, and have they disobeyed Him? Or did God reveal the religion

(din) incomplete so that the people may perfect it? Or are they

companions of God who may introduce whatever they like, and God should

consent to this, and what they say should also be regarded as a command

[58] of God? Or is it that though God did not reveal the religion

incomplete, but quite perfect the Prophet did not convey it properly to

the people, and did not bring to them complete what God ordered?"

-Brother, verily the hand of Shaytan is strong, and how difficult he

makes life of people!

All this disobedience on the part of the people, who became mislead, was

due to the opposition to the command (qawl) of the Prophet; it began at

the earliest time when they dissociated themselves from the 'itrat, or

the rightful lieutenant, and did not obey the last will (wasyyat) of the

Prophet. God did not give them His help, and they will never be saved.

Thus it may appear that the Arabian Hashimite Prophet of God came to this

people suffering difficulties, insults, hostility, and injustice which he

experienced more than any other Prophet, for nothing. He himself said:

"No other Prophet experienced so many difficulties as myself from the

people". He delivered the people from the desert of despair and

hopelessness [59] brought them to the abode of righteousness (hidayat).

He has given them a pure and easy (i.e. human) religion, as he said

himself: "I came bringing the people an easy religion", -he delivered the

people from idolatry. And yet at last the sword of the Lord became

necessary, and only by blows of his sword did the people come to some

extent to the right path. And what was at last the reward of the

Prophet? The people made himself suffer continuously so long as he

lived, and after his death they treated his descendants and legitimate

lieutenants (awsiya) in the way which everyone knows. Whenever they

could, they killed them, they calumniated them and their supporters,

submitting them to tortures wherever they were found. In spite of this

they thought that they worshipped God, only because they heard the name

of the Coran. But even those thieves who dissociated themselves from the

'itrat, used to say that they accepted the Coran. O ye, impudent liars,

if you accept the Coran of the Prophet, who said that this Coran cannot

be divorced from his 'itrat, [60] which you reject, then how do you

accept the Coran? And if you really accept it, why do not you follow his

legitimate lieutenants? Or do you follow someone whom you do not know

yourselves? Realize that all these false ideas already existed at the

time of Abu Bakr, when it was believed that there would be khalifs from

amongst them, one after another, to the last day.

The khilafat started by them, which would be expected to continue

uninterrupted to the Day of Resurrection, came at once to the end, as is

known; but, if they were real khalifs sent for the guidance of the

people, they should always be in existence. But where are the legitimate

successors of Abu Bakr, 'umar and 'Uthman? And if these impious and

ill-starred people wanted to give the khilafat, after these first

khalifs, to the descendants of the Prophet, why did they trample under

their feet his direct descendants, giving the authority to the Abbasides,

because 'Abbas was an uncle of the Prophet, and was a Hashimite. Thus

the khilafat was given to a family on whose behalf rights were never

claimed at the demise of the Prophet, by a single of [61] the different

Islamic groups. But if they were the real legitimate lieutenants (wasi)

of the Prophet, why does no trace of their authority remain nowadays?

Where are now the Abbasides? But if they have disappeared, this is an

unshakable proof of their claims having been false, -what other proof is

required? They were not the members of the line of the real khalifs,

whose continuity cannot be interrupted till the day of Resurrection.

This means that the ignorant people were duped and fooled by the Devil.

By God, a (real) lieutenant (khalifa) of the Prophet must always be

present in this world, regardless of the fact whether the people

recognize him, or not, obey him, or not. He is to be here for the

guidance of those who obey the commandments of God (muti'an), and for the

introduction of order into this world, with its affairs. The people

should know and recognize his descent from the Prophet and from the Lord

('Ali), generation after generation. Otherwise no one can know whether

they really descend from the prophet, -probably nowadays there are many

desendants of 'Uqayl or 'Abbas who are known as the descendants of the

Apostle of God: but though they are real Sayyids, they must be only

subjects (muti'), just like [62] ordinary descendants of the Lord ('Ali),

who were obedient to him (and to the Imams).

No one should claim any right by fraud or false pretenses, nor should any

one claim to do whatever he pleases, adopting a hostile attitude towards

the descendants of the Prophet, just as the Abbasides did. Those whom

you can see were really enemies of the Path of Truth, and of the

legitimate Lieutenants of the Prophet, as the Abbasides were, -this is

why they cannot do anything nowadays except abusing (their opponents).

But had they any authority nowadays, they would surely not care about

any consideration, and would kill all descendants of the Prophet, just

like they used to kill our ancestors.

At the time of the Prophet only Hasan and Husayn were his 'itrat, or

legitimate successors, and not all the members of the Hashimite tribe.

Gracious God! How should I describe how the people treated them.

Immediately after the death of the Prophet the people began to disregard

the Coran. Nobody even remembered about the 'itrat, or the legitimate

successors of the Prophet, who used to keep away from the public gaze.

As soon as they snatched authority, they forgot about all these things.

The Prophet [63] had predicted the capture of the cities of Persia and of

Byzanthium, and so it happened. Many cities were occupied till the time

of 'Uthman, when the people began to think about the 'itrat, but the envy

and hatred of enemies did not permit the people to install them in their

rightful place.


It is recorded in all histories, and every one knows how the Coran was

written down. It was not yet in the form as it is now. Every one

possessed some portions of it, which he recited. Under 'Uthman the

authorities selected some portions, rejecting others. It would be too

long to narrate this in detail. Then they seized by force all the other

copies, and burnt them.2 Thus the knowledge of the original Coran, which

was really left by the Prophet, and which remains in the hands of his

'itrat, or legitimate successors, was taken from the people. But these

legitimate lieutenants of the Prophet still remained. Therefore they,

the enemies, tried their best (to annihilate them), but the will of God

had to be fulfilled, and the 'itrat remained. They used to kill and

torture the successors of the Prophet, and yet they still exist in the

world, and, if God the Allhigh wishes, they [64] will remain till the end

of the world, showing the right path to those who follow the Prophet.

And those who do not follow him, -they have to take the responsibility

upon themselves. They worshipped a stone idol, or a cow, and they still

remain in the same position, their belief still remains the same, only

now they worship their own lower self, or some other beast, as was

explained above.

They have opposed the 'itrat of the Prophet, and whenever they find an

opportunity, they do their best to seduce the more ignorant amongst their

followers, coming amongst them in the disguise of piety, with their

foreheads bearing the e marks of having hit the earth at their

prostrations, and they mislead them and cause them to perish.

Brother, there is no doubt that those who after the demise of the Prophet

usurped the leadership, in contravention of his last will (wasiyyat),

never had any real faith (din), -otherwise, by God, how could such a

thing have happened? They knew some of his commandments, such, for

instance, [65] as regards prayers (namaz), or fast, etc. But they have

not heard other commandments, such as concerning the appointment of the

Lord ('Ali) as his lieutenant, and other things, -these they have not

heard! Surely, this is nothing but fraud, intended for misleading the


Brother, do not make a mistake: I do not say: "do not pray", or "do not

fast"; what I say is: do not permit yourself to be cheated by those who

ostentatiously pray much, or talk much about fasting. Their show of

piety is intended only to deceive others, who are not clever enough to

understand this, and only follow uncritically what they see. They hear

that so-and-so continuously lives only on barley bread, and vinegar,

praying much, or fasting, or performing many pilgrimages. All these

things are very proper, and very laudable, but if these people have no

love for the Lord (Mawla), all this will scarcely help them.


Now that we come to matters like these, we have to see what is the true

religion? What is the true worship ('ibadat), and the true religious

knowledge (ma'rifat).

Brother, profession of Islam is the assertion in two formulas of

profession (shahadatayn). The uttering of these belongs to the outward

side of piety, [66] which has nothing to do with the real, genuine faith.

The Prophet in the Coran itself says to the dissemblers (XLIX, 14): "Do

not say: we believe; but say: we profess Islam. Only God can put faith

in your hearts." There is a difference between faith (iman), and the

mere outward profession (islam), as the Prophet emphasized. We may

complete, with the help of God, the examination of this subject.


If you want to find this difference, brother, know that, as mentioned

above, the day and the night should be properly divided into three equal

sections, each devoted to some special purpose. Each has its own form of

devotion, which is prescribed for it.

Worship with one's own body is the discharge of one's ordinary (zahiri)

duties (a'mal). The worship with one's thought (khayal) consists of

abstention of vile thoughts, prohibited by God, of concentration on good

and pious subjects as found in the examples of saints (mahbuban); one

must even keep their vision (surat) continuously in his heart, and

cultivate disregard [67] for the enemies of the religion, whom God

rejected. Gradually your whole body will be filled with adoration for

them, and you will yourself become one of the friends of God, who has

nothing to do with His enemies.

This permanent thinking about the saints of God does not form one of

those duties which are prescibed for outward piety ('amali zahir: but, if

you consider this properly, it is all-important: it is the thought which

in all its ways and forms gradually brings man to ruin, and it is in the

thought that the hands of the Devil is particularly active; just as if

fire is set inside a house, it makes its walls and doors black of smoke,

even if it does not burn completely. Do realize this, and strive to

attain 'piety of thought'. Is it not true that one is attached to what

he possesses, and even sees it in his dreams? It is said in a hadith:

'On the Day of Resurrection God will make every one [68] rise amongst the

things to which he was attached, even if these were simply stones'.

Therefore, every one who is particularly attached to Muhammad and to the

Family of Muhammad, will be associated with them on the Day of Judgement,

and thus it will become apparent to everybody that he was attached to

them during his life, as otherwise he would rise amongst other people.

Worship by instincts of the lower self (nafs) consists in abstaining from

knowledge which may appear as ordinary knowledge, but in reality is

intended to undermine religion. One has to avoid it, as otherwise one

will have to fear the wrath of God.

Do not say: there is no such thing as Resurrection of the dead. There

is, and the One Who avenges and punishes, will avenge. This fear of

displeasing God is characteristic of His (real) friends. Thus you must

abstain from acquiring learning that is incompatible with true piety.

One must not adorn oneself with the sciences of enemies, thus estranging

the friends of God from himself.

It is said "One who doubts is a liar. He is one from amongst us, but

disguised in the form (sifat) of enemies, in every respect clinging to

others rather than to ourselves."

One of the Israelite Prophets [69] received an inspiration (wahy): "Tell

my friends: do not mix with My enemies, lest they, by chance, should

themselves become hostile to Me"; therefore one must mix only with the

friends of God. Did not you see how many ignorant people perish by

acting otherwise?

Worship by reason ('aql) consists in permanently being in the state of

strong conviction (yaqin), never permitting any doubt to crawl in. The

Lord (Mawla) said: "Never permit yourselves to have a doubt (in

religion); as soon as you permit one to arise, you become unbelievers

(kafir), deprived of the mercy of God, because doubt is the feature of

His enemies; so, let you always be firm in your religious opinion".

Worship with the heart (dil) consists in always feeling great affection

for the Five Members of the Prophet's Family (Panj tani ali'aba), never

abandoning love for the Mawla and his descendants, recognizing them in

your hearts as leading lights, -they should be your (only) Truth.

Whenever you feel love for Muhammad and his Family, you have worshipped

God in your heart.

God regards [70] all those who do not act in this way as His enemies.

God never created anything bad, -the people became bad by their own

actions. Did you not hear a hadith, related from Imam Ja'far Sadiq, that

someone prayed God in his presence, repeating: "God, let me enter

Paradise!" The Imam said: "Do not pray in this way, but say: God, do not

expel me from Paradise." The reason is that so long as you do not do

anything punishable by expulsion from Paradise, you remain in Paradise.

And you have left it as soon as you have done something wicked.

11. (FAITH, -iman)

It is clear now that faith (iman) is nothing but love in the heart. And,

in order to make it quite easy to understand, we may give here an


Faith (iman) is like a tree, the roots of which go into the heart; its

trunk is in reason, and its branches are in the instincts, while

imagination is its new shoots and leaves -(senses of) the body. The

foundation (asl) of faith is love for the Mawla. And if this [71]

foundation, i.e. this love, and the roots of faith are strong and in good

condition, all other parts of the tree, such as its trunk, its branches

and leaves, can be expected to continue to flourish even if they are

(accidentally) damaged. If, however, on the contrary, the roots are not

well grounded, or even rotten, the whole tree will soon dry, and then

will become good for nothing except to be used as fuel. Thus love for

the Mawla is everything, being the root of faith. If it is not strong

all the acts of outward piety (a'mali zahiri) which are like leaves of

the tree, will fade. If you have a thousand mans of leaves, fresh and of

good color, they will dry in a short time, and then a very small fire

will be sufficient to burn them completely.

If you have love (for the Mawla), even if you do not show much outward

piety, you, nevertheless, remain a mu'min, faithful, as your nature is

not yet bad, and it is only your behavior which is not good; it may be

hoped that God may forgive this. But if it is otherwise, -woe to you!

Then thousands fasts and prayers will be [72] of no use. Do you not see

that if a building has no sound foundations, it will fall down at the

first blast of wind, even if you gild all its walls, and paint them with

beautiful patterns, -making all your labors and expense a waste. On the

contrary, if the foundations are reliable, and only the walls have no

paint on them, the building is indeed, strong. It only shows that you

have not kept it clean, but the structure itself is reliable.

The same is the case with love for the Mawla which is the foundation of

faith (iman), and of worship with the heart, -your truth (haqiqat). No

sin can ruin it, so long as it is alive. But if there is (in the heart)

any feeling of hostility towards 'Ali, no meritorious act will be of any

help, -love of 'Ali only obliterates all sins.

It is narrated that some one said to an Imam: "Your followers create

disturbances, and therefore we regard them as villains and rioters". The

reply was: "No, our followers (shi'a) are our friends, and our friends

never leave this world without their sins having been forgiven. In this

[73] world the villain and the rioter is obly he who is our enemy."

There are, indeed, stupid friends, whose actions may be objectionable or

harmful, but their intentions and purpose are good and pure. On the Day

of resurrection they will rise clean (ru-safid), as their sins will be

forgiven in this world, having been punished by illness, or losses in

trade, or by the oppression of the wicked; there are also the minor sins

of the faithful, for which they will experience a dreadful dream.

With regard to this a hadith is related from the Prophet, but we shall

omit it for the sake of conciseness.

Now you see that your every action, whether spiritual or ordinary (batini

wa zahiri), is concerned with some special form of worship. But worship

is nothing but knowledge, ma'rifat, -they are inseparable one from the

other, nor can they be different. Thus the higher knowledge (ma'rifat)

of your eye is to recognize the image of that human face in the pupil of

your eye, which is that of one who guides you to the right path, knowing

that he is exactly that person. He, the Guide, comes [74] with all the

features of the ordinary man.

But with eyes alone you cannot hold his image in the heart too, -the

inner vision, of the heart, is different from the vision of the eye; what

the heart sees is Luminousness (nuraniyyat). I cannot tell you more

about its meaning, -this is a secret matter which you are unable to


Thus, with the help of God, in labor and worship, in the struggle with

your own evil impulses, with the spiritual knowledge kept alive in your

heart, with certainty in reason, with study and acquisition of a

religious education ('ulumi din), with the vision of the saints of God

and of their example in the heart, by the discharge of your duties, you

will attain a high degree of spiritual refinement, as it has been

systematically explained. If you do all this, you may attain the degree

which you seek. You have to seek it, and it depends on Him not to leave

you without a chance.

Brother, you have to note two things: first, that in this short treatise

I have spoken concerning high spiritual subjects, explaining them in

plain and simple terms, [75] which are not overburdened with quotations

of hadiths or verses from the Coran. Secondly, that it was of no use to

address all this to everybody, and the treatise was intended only for

those who follow the commandments of God and of His Prophet, recognizing

him as such. I have nothing to do or argue about with others. And even

if those who are concerned, after reading this will not realize how

great a blessing God gives them, -it is their own business. What I say

is addressed to those who have the capacity to understand this.

At the beginning of this book I promised to deal with two questions: one

of them was the knowledge (ma'rifat) and the truth (haqiqat) of the

religion. The second was about the ways of living piously among brethren

in religion. But before starting the question of the rules of such life,

I had to explain the matter connected with the Day of Resurrection, and

the shame that some people will have to feel, as this subject was

connected with my discussion, which was outside the scope of the work.

God help us in this. Brother, remember what is said: settle your own

accounts before others demand this from you, and the questions of

accounts is raised.


1. The term 'aql in the context like this, i.e. in the works dealing

with religion and ethics, covers much of the ground comprised in the

Western idea of 'consciousness' (in ethical sense), though it does not

coincide with it completely. Similarly nafs, which in purely

psychological context means 'subconscious self' (in a broad sense), here

may mean 'selfishness', 'egotism', in fact, something that should be the

opposite of consciousness, and for which there is apparently no special

term in European languages. It implies unceremonious self-assertion,

disregard to everything that is non-ego, and, at the same time, catering

for the lower, sensuous sides to one's nature.

2. As is well known, the question of the origin of the version of the

Coran, as it is at present, is a difficult matter, full of rather

doubtful points. It appears as if there was not very much interest

towards it immediately after the death of the Prophet. Abu Bakr

entrusted the work of collecting the Coran to Zayd b. Thabit. Later on

we find that what was collected was in private possession of Hafsa, the

daughter of 'Umar (ef. Ibn Sa'd, III/I, 212). Practically nothing was

done in this respect by 'Umar. At the time of 'Uthman there already were

several versions in existence, one, by 'Abdu'l-lah b. Mas'ud, in Kufa;

another by Abu Musa 'Abdu'l-lah al-Ash'ari, in Basra; the third, by

Miqdad b. 'Amr, in Hims (syria); the fourth, by Ubay b. Ka'b, in Damascus

(ef. Ibn Sa'd, III/I, 114-6). This difference in the text of the sacred

book caused great inconvenience in practical life, and, under pressure

from the side of the local governers, 'Uthman appointed a sort of a

'commission', using the modern term, for the revision of the text,

consisting of the same Zayd b. Thabit, mentioned above, 'Abdu'l-lah b.

Zubayr, Sa'id b. al-'As, 'Abdu'r-Rahman b. al-Harith, and others (Ibn

Sa'd, V, 19-24). What were the functions of every one amongst them, and

what they really have done, is not clear. Ultimately the present version

came into existence, and the different versions, as is usually narrated

by even the most orthodox historians, were collected and burnt. Quite

probably, of course, some isolated copies escaped the destruction; some

of such instances are known. We have no information whether there

existed a special version preserved amongst the Alides, and their

supporters. The usual tradition, preserved by the Shi'ites, about the

omission of all references to 'Ali and his rights, originally contained

in the Coran, cannot be verified at present, but seems to be highly

probable, if we consider the attitude of the circles in which the

official version was prepared. The author, quite naturally, accepts the

tradition which is regarded as absolutely true by all Shi'ites.s