Intuitional methad of chieving religious thought, according to shi ism

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Man and Gnostic comprehension
Even though most men are occupied with gaining a livelihood and providing for their needs and show no concern for spiritual matters, there lives within the nature of man an innate urge to seek the ultimately Real. In certain individuals this force which is dormant and potential becomes awakened and manifests itself openly, thus leading to series of spiritual perceptions.

Every man believes in a permanent Reality despite the claim of sophists and skeptics well call every truth and reality illusion and superstition. Occasionally when man view with a clear mind and a pure soul the permanent Reality pervading the universe and the created order, at the same time sees the impermanence and transient character of the diverse parts and elements of the world, he is able to contemplate the world and its phenomena as mirrors which reflect the beauty of a permanent reality. The joy of comprehending this Reality obliterates every other joy in the eye of the viewer and makes everything else appear as insignificant and unimportant.

This vision is that same Gnostic divine attraction (jadhbah) which draws the attention of the god centered man toward the transcendent world and awakens the love of God in his heart. Through this attraction he forgets all else. All his manifold desires and wishes are obliterated from his mind, this attraction guides man to the he worship and praise of the In visible Deity who is in reality more evident and manifest than all that is visible and audible. In truth it is this same inner attraction that has brought into being the different religions within the world religions which are based on the worship of God. The Gnostic (arif) is the one who worships God through knowledge and because of love for Him, not in hope of reward or fear of punishment. (The sixth Imam has said, There are three kinds of worship a group worship God in fear and that is the worship of slaves a group worship God in order to receive rewards and that is the worship of mercenaries and a group worship God because of their love and devotion to Him and that is the worship of free men. That is the best from of worship Bihar el- an war, VOI, XV, p, 208).

From this exposition it becomes clear that we must not consider gnosis as a religion among others, but as the heart of all religions. Gnosis is one of the paths of worship, a path based on knowledge combined with love, rather than fear. It is the path for realizing the inner truth of religion rather than remaining satisfied only with its external from and rational thought. Every revealed religion and even those than appear in the form of idol-worship have certain followers who march upon the path of gnosis. The polytheistic religions and Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Islam all have believers who are gnostics.

Appearance of Gnosis in Islam
Among the companions of the prophet, Ali is known particularly for his eloquent exposition, of gnostic truths and the stages of the spiritual life. His words in this domain comprise an inexhaustible treasury of wisdom. Among the works of the other companions which have survived there is not a great deal of material that concerns this type of question. Among the associates of Ali, such as salman Farsi, Uways Quarani, kumayl ibn ziyad Rosh aid Hajari, Maytham Tammar, and Rabi’ibn khaytham.

However, there are figures who have been considered by the majority of the Sufis, Sunni and shi’ite alike, as the heads of their spiritual chain (silsilah) after Ali.

After this group appeared others, such as Tawus Yamani, shayban Ra’i, Malik ibn Dinar, Ibrahim Ad ham, and shaqiq Balkhi, who were considered by the people to by saints and men of God. These men without publicly talking about gnosis and Sufism appeared externally as ascetics and did not hide the fact that they had been initiated by the earlier group and had undergone spiritual training under them.

After them there appeared at the end of the 2 nd / 8 th century and the beginning of the 3rd/ 9th century men such as Bayazid Bastami, Ma’ruf karkhi, Junayd Baghdadi and other like them, who followed the Sufi path and openly declared their connection with Sufism and gnosis. They divulged certain esoteric sayings based on spiritual vision which, because of their repellent external from, brought upon them the condemnation of some of the jurists and theologians some of them were imprisoned, flogged, and even occasionally killed. Even so, this group persisted and continued its activities desite its opponents. In this manner gnosis and the way (Tariqah, or Sufism) continued to grow until in the 7 th /13 th and 8 th/ 14 th centuries it reached the height of its expansion and power. It since then, some times stronger and at other times less so, it has continued its existence to this very day within the Islam world.

Gnosis or Sufism as we observe it today first appeared in the Sunni world and later among the shi’ites the first men who openly declared they to be Sufis and gnostics, and were recognized as spiritual masters of Sufi orders, apparently followed sunnism in the branches (furu’) of Islamic law. Many of the masters who followed them and who expanded the Sufi orders were also sunnis in their following of the law.

Even so, these masters traced their spiritual chain, which in the spiritual life is like the genealogical chain of person, through their previous masters to Ali. Also the results of their visions and intuitions as transmitted to us convey mostly truths concerning divine unity and the stations spiritual life which are found in the saying of Ali and other shi’ite Imams. This canbe been provided we are not affected by some of the striking and even some times socking expressions used by these Sufi masters and consider as the perfection of man, is a state which according to shi’ite belief is possessed in its fullness by the Imam and through the radiance of his being can be attained by his true followers. And the spiritual pole (qutb) whose existence at all times is considered necessary by all the Sufis – as well as the attributes associated with him – correlates with the shi’ite conception of the Imam. According to the saying of the House hold of the prophet, the Imam is, to use the Sufi expression universal Man, the manifestation of the Divine Names and the spiritual guide of the lives and actions of men. Therefore, one could say, considering the shi’ite concept of walayat, that Sufi masters are shi’ite from the point of view of the spiritual life and in connection with the source of walayat although, from the point of view of the external from of religion they follow the Sunni schools of law.

Appearance of the method of path
It is necessary to mention that even in classical sunni treatises it has some times been said that the spiritual method of the path or the techniques whereby one come to know and realize himself, cannot be explained through the external forms and teachings of the shari’ah .Rather these sources claim that individual Muslims themselves have discovered many of these accepted by God, such as is the case with monasticism in Christianity (God Exalted be His Name – says, But monasticism they [ Christians] invented – we ordained it not for them- only seeking Allah’spleaure, and theyobservedit not’ with right obscervance(Quran, LVII, 27)). There fore each master has devised certain actions and practices which he has deemed necessary in the spiritual method, such as the particular type of ceremony of being accepted by the master the details of the way in which the invocation is given to the new adept along with a robe, and the use of music, chanting and other methods of inducing ecstasy during the invocation of the Divine Name. In some cases the practices of the Tariqah have out wardly become separated from those of shari’ah and it may seen difficult for an outsider to see the intimate and inward relation between them. But by taking into consideration the theoretical principles of shi’ism and then studying in depth the basic sources of Islam, namely the Quran and the sunnah, he well soon realize that it is impossible to say that this spiritual guidance has not been provided by Islam itself or that Islam has remained negligent clarifying the nature of the spiritual program to be followed.

Guidance provided by the Quran and sunnah for knowledge of the soul
God- exalted be His Name – has commanded man in several places in the Quran to deliberate upon the Holy Book and be persistent in this effort and not be satisfied with a merely superficial and elementary understanding of it. In many verses the world of creation and all that is in it without exception are called portents (ayat), signs and symbols of the Divine. A degree of deliberation upon the meaning of portents and signs and penetration into their real significance will reveal the fact that thing are called by these names because they manifest and make known not so much themselves but a reality other than themselves .for example, a red light placed as a sign of danger, once seen, reminds one completely of the idea of danger so that one no longer pays attention to the red light itself. If one begins to think about the from or quiddity of the light or its color, there will be in his mind only the from of lamp or its glass or color rather the conception of danger. In the same manner, if the world and its phenomena are all and in every aspect signs and portents of God, the Creator of the Universe, they have no ontological independence of their own. No matter how we view them they display nothing but God.

He who through guidance of the Holy Quran is able to view the world and the people of the world with such an eye will apprehend nothing but God, Instead of seeing only this borrowed beauty which others see in the attractive appearance of the world, he will see an Infinite Beauty, a Beloved who manifests Himself through the narrow confines of the this world. Of course, as in the example of the red light, what is contemplated and seen in signs and portents is God the Creator of the world and not the world itself. The relation of God to the world is from a certain point of view like (1+0) not (1+1) nor (1× 1) (that is, the world is nothing before God and adds nothing to him) It is at the moment of realization of this truth that the harvest of man’s separative existence is plundered and in one stroke man entrusts his heat to the hands of Divine love. This realization obviously des not place through the instrument of the eye or the ear or the other outward senses, or through the power of imagination or reason, for all these instruments are themselves signs and portents and of little significance to the spiritual guidance sought here (Ali has said, God is not that which can enter under one of the categories of knowledge. God is that which guides reasoning toward Himself, Bihar al- anwar, VOI, II, p, 186).

He who has attained the vision of God and who has no intention but to remember God and forget all else, when he hears that in another place in the Quran God says, O yewho believe! Ye have charge of your own souls. He who erreth cannot injure you if you are rightly guided (Quran, V, 105), then he understands that the sole royal path which will guide him fully and completely is the path of self realization .His true guide who is God himself obliges him to know himself, to leave behind all other ways and to seek the path of self- knowledge, to see God through the window of his soul, gaining in this way the real object of his search, that is why the prophet has said. Who knows himself verily known the Lord. And also he has said, those among know God better who know themselves better.

The methohof the Quran for knowledge of the soul
As for the method of following the path, there are many verses of the Quran which command man to remember God, as for example where he says, there fore remember Me, I will remember you(Quran ,II,152) and similar saying. Man is also commanded to perform right actions which are described fully in the Quran and haith, At the end of this discussion of right actions god says, verily in the Messenger of Allah ye have a good example,(Qran, XXXIII, 21).

How can anyone imagine that Islam could discover that a particular path is the path which leads to God without recommending this path to all the people? Or how could it make such a path known and yet neglect to explain the method of following it? For God says in the Quran, and we reveal the scripture unto thee as an exposition of all thing (Quran, XVI, 89).


shiah - pages 167 to 177


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