Stages of Certainty

1. `Ilm al-Yaqin : Which is certain and permanent conviction. It is like the conviction of a man who when he sees smoke believes with certainty that there must be a fire too.

2. `Ayn al-yaqin: Which is beholding something with-either the outer or the inner-eye. Using the above example, it is like the conviction of a man who not only sees the smoke but fire itself.

3. Haqq al-yaqin: Which is the state of certainty acquired when a form of spiritual and actual union exists between the knower and the known thing. This would be the case, for example, if one should be himself in the midst of fire mentioned in the above example. This is called "the union of the knower and the known", and is discussed in its appropriate place. In order to attain haqq al-yaqin one must fulfil certain necessary conditions. These are:

1. The individual soul must have the capacity to receive and understand these truths; the soul of a child, for example, cannot understand the reality of things.

2. The soul should not be one defiled by corruption and sin.

3. Complete attention must be concentrated on the object in question, and the mind must be free of pollution of worldly and base interests.

4. One must be free of any kind of blind imitation and prejudice.

5. In order to attain the aim, relevant and necessary preliminaries must be covered.

3. Shirk (Polytheism)

Shirk is another serious disease of the soul, and is a branch of ignorance. It lies in believing that other forces besides God have a role in directing the affairs of the world. If one worships these forces, it is called shirk `ibadi (polytheism in worship), and if he obeys them, it would be shirk ita`i (polytheism in obedience).

The first kind is also named shirk jali (manifest polytheism), and the second is also called shirk khafi (hidden polytheism). Possibly the Quranic verse:

And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners unto Him. (12:106)

is a reference to the second kind of shirk.

The opposite of shirk is tawhid (monotheism), which means that there is no power in the universe except that of the Almighty God. Tawhid has stages; they are:

1. Verbal admission or acceptance of tawhid; that is uttering the (there is no god but God) without believing in it sentence with the heart.

2. Believing with the heart when the above statement of monotheism is made with the tongue.

3. Realization of the unity of God through epiphany and numinous experience. In other words, one discovers that the vast multiplicity of creatures derive their existence from the One God, and recognizes that no power other than God's operates in the universe.

4. One sees nothing in the world except the Divine Being and perceives all creatures as emanations and reflections of that Being.

These stages of belief in tawhid guide us to recognize the cause of the disease of shirk. The root cause of shirk is immersion in the material world and forgetfulness in regard to God. In order to cure it, one must meditate upon the creation of the heavens and the earth and myriads of God's creatures. That may awaken within one the appreciation of the glory of God.

The deeper his meditation and contemplation on the beauty of the universe and the mystery of its creation, the greater his faith in the existence and unity of God shall become. The Quran says:

Such as remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and say): `Our Lord, Thou hast not created this in vain. Glory be to Thee! sane us from the chastisement of the Fire. (3:191)

Imam al-Rida (A) has been quoted as saying:

Worship does not lie in copious prayer and fasting, but in the amount of contemplation in the works of God. 

4. Satanic Temptations and Consciousness

Whatever enters the human consciousness is either through the agency of the angels of mercy or the devil. If it is godly, it is called inspiration (ilham), and if it is caused by the devil, it is called temptation (waswasa). The human soul is a battlefield on which the army of angels and the army of devils are locked in battle, and man has the choice to confirm either of them.

If the army of the devil is reinforced, he will become subject to demonic temptations, and his outward actions will mirror his internal condition. But if the Divine forces are strengthened, the individual becomes the embodiment of Divine attributes and characteristics.

The Holy Quran relates how the Satan swore to misguide mankind and lead them into sin:

He said: `Now because Thou has sent me astray , verily I shall lurk in ambush for them in Thy Straight Path. Then I shall come upon them from before them and from behind them and from their right and from their left .... (7:16-17)

About the people who yield to the devil, the Holy Quran says:

....having hearts wherewith they understand not, and having eyes wherewith they see not, and having ears wherewith they hear not. These are as the cattle-nay, but they are worse. These are the neglectful. (7:179)

And about those who are not influenced by the devil, the Quran says:

As for those who believe in Allah, and hold fast unto Him, them He will cause to enter into His mercy and grace, and will guide them unto Him by a straight path. (4:175)

The way to fight demonic temptations by deliberating about the Hereafter. If one contemplates the consequences of following the advice of the devil and the future such obedience holds in store for him, he will find the right path and be liberated from satanic temptations. When he finds the righteous path, God, too, will come to his aid and guide him to ultimate happiness and felicity-as has been clearly stated in the above-mentioned verse.

5. Trickery and Slyness

Slyness is another vice belonging to the Power of Intellect, and appears through the agency of satanic and evil wishes of the Power of Passion and Anger. Slyness and trickery is defined as conscious plotting against others and drawing of elaborate and detailed plans to harm them. This vice is a fatal one, because the individual afflicted by it is counted one amongst the party of the devil. The Prophet (S) has said:

Whoever plots against a Muslim is not one of us.

The way to cure this fatal disease is that the afflicted should wake up to the dangerous consequences of this vice, and realize that one who digs a pit for others will himself fall into it, getting his punishment in this world itself. He should also ask himself, why, instead of being kind and good to others, he should plot against them.