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
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.
TRUE MEANING OF RELIGION
(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. 
With the help of God I was enabled to comply with their request.
1. (STRUGGLE WITH ONE'S OWN PASSION)
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  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,  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,  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. 
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.
2. (LIFE IS THE MOST PRECIOUS THING THAT MAN POSSESSES)
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,  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,  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  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  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
3. (HOW TO LIVE?)
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 
(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.  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  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.
 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.
4. ('Aql-REASON, OR CONSIOUSNESS, AND NAFS, -LOWER SELF, OR SELFISHNESS)1
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, [ '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
 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  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
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.  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 
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  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
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  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  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  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
5. (Ma'rifat, OR SPRITUAL KNOWLEDGE)
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,  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  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  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  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
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)  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  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".
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  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
 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  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  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,  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  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  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  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  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,  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,  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  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.  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
 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.  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:  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:  "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  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?  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?
7. ('Itrat, OR 'CLOSE RELATIVES')
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.  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,  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
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,  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  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  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.  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  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,  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
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
 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  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,  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  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  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  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
8. (THE CORAN)
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  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
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,  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.
9. (THE TRUE RELIGION)
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
Brother, profession of Islam is the assertion in two formulas of
profession (shahadatayn). The uttering of these belongs to the outward
side of piety,  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.
10. (FORMS OF WORSHIP)
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  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  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  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
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  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 
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  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
 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  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,  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