Importance of Remembering Allah

This educates us about the importance of Allah’s remembrance. If one is not careful about the prohibited and the lawful in every moment of ones life, then mere verbal remembrance of Allah is either useless or of very little use. This has already been discussed in the beginning portion of our book, Greater Sins. Here it is sufficient to mention only one verse of the Quran, where Allah says: Allah only accepts from those who guard (against evil).[269]

[This is watchfulness]

In fact, remembrance of Allah is that man considers Him present and witnessing in every condition. He must not forsake the commands of God under any circumstances. This is watchfulness. Such a kind of watchfulness is the means of guarding us against all types of destructions. Living in inhabited places the center of our attention must be the Almighty Allah. Such a kind of watchfulness takes man to the stages of perfection. Allah is always the Guard and Protector of His slaves. The Arabic word for Guard is ‘Raqib’ Allah has appointed on His behalf, angels to watch the words and deeds of men. By the command of Allah they note down all good and bad deeds of every person at all times. It is necessary that people must also realize that Allah is watching them and they must not commit any sin in His presence.

For introducing variety in our discussion we mention here few interesting incidents on the subject of “watchfulness”. [Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) and Zulaikha] It is written in Ihya-ul-Uloom that: It is said that when Zulaikha locked up Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) with herself in her private room, she removed her veil from her head and put it on an idol that was placed in her room. Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) asked the reason for this and Zulaikha said, “Since I want to embrace you I feel shy of the idol. I have covered it so that it cannot see me.”

Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) said, “You are shy of this man-made lifeless idol. Should I not be shy before the Creator of the universe?” Hence Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) fled from there. At last an infant in the cradle testified to the innocence of Prophet Yusuf (a.s.). And in the due course he himself became the king of Egypt and Zulaikha also became his lawful wife. The details of this incident are present in Surah Yusuf.

[Allah is watching]

A venerable teacher was giving more attention to one of his disciples. People asked him the reason. He replied, “You would soon know.” One day he gave a hen to each of his students and asked them to slaughter them where no one can see. All the students went away, slaughtered their hens and brought to them back to the teacher but that particular disciple brought back his hen alive. The teacher asked him the reason before others. He said, “You ordered us to go to a place where no one can see us, but wherever I went, I found the Omnipresent and Omniscient God.[270] [What the shepherd said]

This incident is mentioned on page 206 of Lavameul Baiyanat:

One day Abdullah bin Umar met a shepherd who was grazing his cattle. He asked the shepherd to sell a sheep to him. The shepherd said, “This is not mine and my master has not allowed me to sell them.” Ibne Umar said, “Sell it to me and keep the money with you and tell your master a wolf took it away. The shepherd said, “Then where would Allah go?” That is, though my master is not present, Allah is certainly there. This incident so influenced Abdullah Ibne Umar that he went to the shepherd’s master, purchased him and freed him. Then he purchased all his goats and sheep and gifted them to the shepherd. From then onwards Abdullah Ibne Umar used to repeat the brief statement of the shepherd: “Where would Allah go?”

[A slave of Allah]

This incident is recorded on page 16 of the 4th volume of Tarikh Tabari: When Muslims conquered Madayan, the occasion arrived to deposit the war booty into the public treasury. People deposited whatever they could. Meanwhile a man arrived carrying an exquisite box. People doubted that this man might have removed something from it. They asked, “Have you removed anything from this box?” He replied, “If I had not considered Allah to be Present and Witnessing, I would not have even brought this box to you.” They asked, “Who are you?” He replied, “I don’t want to introduce myself lest you start praising me.” They deposited the box and followed him. He returned to his tribe and inquiries revealed that he was Aamir Bin Abde Qais.

[Verbal remembrance]

The third kind of obligatory remembrance of Allah is verbal remembrance. It includes obligatory prayers like the Daily Prayer, Funeral Prayer, Ayaat Prayer (During natural calamities and eclipse), Prayer of circumambulation of the Holy Ka’ba and Lapsed Prayers etc. We have mentioned the importance and rewards of Prayer as well as the severe punishment for omitting it, in Greater Sins. Prayer is a verbal remembrance that is obligatory. The following verses of Quran prove this:

O you who believe! When the call is made for prayer on Friday, then hasten to the remembrance of Allah and leave off trading, that is better for you, if you know.[271]

Therefore serve Me and keep up prayer for My remembrance.[272]

[The Four Praises] 

We also have recommended remembrances. For example after conversion to Islam it is desirable to say: “I bear witness that there is no God except Allah.” Or saying, “Praise be to Allah”. Or reciting, “Glory be to Allah” or “Allah is Great”. Among such recitals is “The Four Praises” (Tasbihat-e-Arba). That is: “Glory be to Allah and Praise be to Allah and there is no God except Allah and Allah is Great,” or saying: “There is no strength and Might except by Allah.” In the same way are supplications, versified invocations (Munajat), Salawat and Quran recitation. All these are also recommended remembrances.

[The more the better]

It is clear that there is no limit to remembering Allah. The more Allah is remembered the better it is for man. O you who believe! Remember Allah, remembering frequently. And glorify Him morning and evening.[273] Numerous traditions regarding the excellence of remembrance of Allah are mentioned in Oddatutdai. However for the sake of brevity we refrain from quoting them here. We just mention another Quranic verse in this connection:

And remember Allah much that you may be successful.[274] So many recommended prayers, supplications, invocations, recitals and rosaries have been narrated from the Ahle Bayt that we might be able to recite them all only if we were to engage in this activity all the twenty-four hours. May Allah bestow us more divine opportunity in this.

[Excellence of the Midnight Prayer]

Of all the recommended prayers the Midnight Prayer is most effective, beneficial and meritorious. It has even more importance than the Nawafil (supererogatory) of the Daily Prayers. It consists of eleven units (Rakats) and the timing is from midnight to dawn. There are many traditions and verses that emphasize rising up early before dawn and performing this prayer, then begging Allah’s pardon. In short whoever has obtained some spiritual station it is by the grace of arising early at dawn. Whatever treasure of happiness Allah gave to Hafiz, it was because of the Midnight Prayer and recitations.[275] And during the part of a night, pray (the midnight prayer) beyond what is incumbent on you; may be your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory.[276] 

Indeed the Midnight Prayer was obligatory on the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and is also most recommended for his followers. The “Position of great glory” (Maqam-e-Mahmood) denotes a high station due to which people praise one. Here the lofty station of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) signifies his great intercession.

Many concessions are given to Muslims regarding the Midnight Prayer and if one does not pray from midnight to morning, then also he would not be punished but there would be such a deprivation as cannot be recompensed. He would be deprived from reaching the greater stations and stages that are especially for the Shias of Aale Muhammad (Followers of the Progeny of Muhammad).

[Emphasis on the Midnight Prayer]

The following tradition of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is available in Baladul Amin of Kafami:

“He is not from our Shia that does not perform the Midnight Prayer.” And Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says, “One who believes in Allah and the Hereafter, should not pass the whole night without performing the Midnight Prayer.” The Imam of our time has emphasized thrice in a letter to Ibne Babawahy: “You must recite the Midnight Prayer, you must recite the Midnight Prayer, you must recite the Midnight Prayer.”

[Those who wake up at dawn]

Allah has emphasized waking up at dawn and performing the Midnight Prayer at a number of places in Quran. For example He says: Their sides draw away from (their) beds, they call upon their Lord in fear and in hope, and they spend (benevolently) out of what We have given them.[277] 

So no soul knows what is hidden for them of that which will refresh the eyes, a reward for what they did.[278] Allah also says: 

What! He who is obedient during hours of the night, prostrating himself and standing, takes care of the hereafter and hopes for the mercy of his Lord! Say: Are those who know and those who do not know alike? Only the men of understanding are mindful.[279] This verse explains in the best way that to pray the Midnight Prayer and to weep in the court of Allah in a mixed state of fear and hope is a sign of knowledge, divine recognition and wisdom. And not doing thus is ignorance and foolishness. Anyone who has obtained a bit of insight has the habit of awaking at night.[280] In the same way, pay attention to the following verse:

Surely those who guard (against evil) shall be in gardens and fountains. Taking what their Lord gives them; surely they were before that, the doers of good. They used to sleep but little in the night. And in the morning they asked forgiveness. And in their property was a portion due to him who begs and to him who is denied (good).[281]

[Twenty-six Qualities of the Midnight Prayer]

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has said that the Midnight Prayer (1) Causes Allah’s happiness (2) and friendship of angels (3) It is the practice of the prophets (4) It is the cause of the effulgence of divine recognition (5) and a firm foundation of faith (6) It is comfort for the bodies. (7) It is the cause of disgust from Satan. (8) It is the means of victory over the enemies. (9) It enables the acceptance of prayers. (10) It makes deeds worthy of acceptance (11) Causes increase in sustenance. (12) It intercedes with the angel of death (that he takes away the soul with ease and without causing discomfort) (13) It is the lamp of the grave. (14) It is the floor-spread of the grave. (15) It will reply to Munkir and Nakir (the interrogating angels in the grave) (16) It is a companion of its performer in the grave (17) It would continue to visit and look after him till the doomsday and when the resurrection day will occur (18) it would provide protective shade to its worshipper (19) It is the crown of his head (20) It is the garment for his body. (21) It is effulgence that remains before him (22) It is a curtain between him and hellfire. (23) It is his proof in the court of Allah. (24) It is the cause of weighing down the pan of good deeds (25) It is the vehicle to cross the Sirat Bridge. (26) It is a key to the door of Paradise.

Twenty-six qualities of the Midnight Prayer are mentioned in this tradition. The most important being that the Midnight Prayer strengthens the foundations of divine recognition and faith. One must not be neglectful in getting up early at dawn and praying the Midnight Prayer. On the contrary one should perform it regularly and in a proper way, so that if Allah wills, one may obtain the best of the rewards. 

[Method of the Midnight Prayer]

With the intention of performing the Midnight Prayer perform four prayers of two units each, totaling eight units (Rakats) and recite any Surah in them after the Suratul Fatiha. Then perform two units of Shaf prayer. After this pray one unit of Watr Prayer. If possible recite in the Qunut[282] of this last unit 70 or 100 times, “Astaghfirullaha rabbi wa-atoobo ilaihe”[283] or recite “Al-Awf”[284] 300 times. It is most emphasized to pray for the forgiveness of forty believers in Qunut. Ahle Bayt have also narrated many supplications that can be recited at this time. Especially the 32nd supplication of Sahifa Kamila and other supplications mentioned in the 18th volume of Biharul Anwar. It is much better to recite these supplications in the Qunut. May Allah give us all the divine opportunity (Tawfeeq) to perform all these worship acts. [Stages of faith]

Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) has stated in Usul al-Kafi in the Chapter of infidelity and faith that, “Faith is one level higher than Islam. Piety is one level higher than faith and certainty of belief is one level higher than piety. Nothing in such a less quantity has been distributed among the people as certainty of faith.”

In comparison to certainty of faith, other things are in greater volume. In another tradition, in the same chapter of Usul al-Kafi the narrator asked Imam Ali Reza (a.s.), “What is certainty of belief?” Imam replied, “Certainty of belief means reliance on God, to submit before Allah and to entrust the results of our efforts to Allah.” Allamah Majlisi has explained this tradition in the words of some reliable scholars as follows:

“Recognition of Allah and worship are two such gems that all the religious books, all the statements of religious scholars and all the sermons that you read or listen are all for these two only. Rather the arrival of the Prophets and the revelation of divine scriptures were for this purpose. Rather, the heavens, the earth and whatever is between them were created as means to obtain them.” The following verse is sufficient to realize the merits of knowledge and recognition of Allah:

Allah is He Who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like of them; the decree continues to descend among them, that you may know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah indeed encompasses all things in (His) knowledge.[285]

And the following verse is sufficient to realize the excellence of worship: And I have not created the Jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.[286]

Knowledge or recognition of Allah and worship, go hand in hand. Each is necessary for the other. If recognition is genuine, worship would also be there and if there is genuine worship, recognition will also accompany it. Recognition and worship are the causes and effects of each other. Recognition causes worship and worship becomes the cause of recognition. For example when worship is the cause of recognition, recognition is technically called the effect. Effect means that something else is the cause of it. Worship would be according to the level and grade of recognition. If recognition increases there will be increment in worship also. In the same way if worship increases, recognition would also increase. 

It is clear that here knowledge and recognition denotes recognizing Allah, having faith on the angels, belief in the book of Allah (Quran), belief in the prophets, especially in the Last Prophet and his Successors and the recognition of the Day of Recompense. Almighty Allah says:

The apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers, they all believe in Allah and His angels and His books and His apostles.[287] The Holy Quran also says:

O you who believe! Believe in Allah and His Apostle and the Book which He has revealed to His Apostle and the Book which He revealed before, and whoever disbelieves in Allah and His angels and His apostles and the last day, he indeed strays off into a remote error.[288] The source of Faith is Knowledge. Faith is the verification of a factual truth. Imagination is first of all necessary for verification, and imagination and verification, both are knowledge.

And infidelity is the opposite of Faith. That is to conceal the truth or not to trust the truth; and the source of infidelity is ignorance. According to religious law, Faith is verification of the following five mentioned in these verses (1) Allah (2) Angels (3) Revealed Books (4) Prophet (5) and the Day of Recompense. Therefore it is obligatory to obtain knowledge and certainty regarding them. Faith in the Infallible Imams is included in faith on the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.). The necessary sequel of faith on the Prophet is that one also has faith in the successors appointed by the Prophet. In the same way belief in Divine Justice is included in the recognition of Allah or knowledge about the attributes of Allah.

The famous tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) says:

“Acquisition of knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim man and woman.” It means the same. Here obligatory knowledge means faith and recognition. Though everyone obtains faith and recognition according to his ability. The Quran says: 

Allah does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of its ability.[289] That is why there are stages of faith and knowledge. Faith can be strong as well as weak. It can be less and more. There are many stages in this regard and many traditions are recorded on this subject. Faith is in proportion to the level of knowledge that imparts health and life to the heart. Faith is such a light that illuminates the heart. Due to this effulgence the curtain between the Lord and the slave is removed.

The Quran also says:

Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light.[290]

In the same way Allah says:

Is he who was dead then We raised him to life and made for him a light by which he walks among the people, like him whose likeness is that of one in utter darkness whence he cannot come forth?[291]

And Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, “Knowledge is not obtained by studying a lot. But it is a light that Allah bestows in the heart of one He wants to guide.” Although when Allah wants to guide man and grant him this light, it is possible for him to study and increase it further. The Holy Quran states:

And when His communications are recited to them they increase them in faith.[292] That is why it is commanded to pray: O my Lord! Increase me in knowledge.[293]

As much as the curtain is removed, the light of faith increases. Faith becomes stronger and stronger and more and more perfect. So much so that there is nothing but effulgence in the heart. Then he is endowed with the widening of the breast, that is the spiritual broadening of the heart. He begins to understand the realities of all the things with an open mind. The unseen and the non-material things become known to him. He sees everything according to its reality. Thus the light of his heart and the expansion of his breast show him to be factual truths whatever the prophets have said. Some things are known to him in detail and some realities in brief. Then the desire to act on the divine law appears automatically. He achieves control in refraining from evil. Due to the effulgence of divine recognition there is also increase in the effulgence of his manners and good qualities. Then he becomes like those described thus in Quran:

Their light shall run on before them and on their right hands, light upon light.[294] 

And also:

…light upon light…[295]

The light of worship would be increasing the light of divine recognition and the light of divine recognition would be increasing the light of worship. (Apparently the preceding light is the effulgence of faith and the light to the right is the light of good deeds.) The first stage of faith is verification mixed with doubts. There are stages for this too. It is also possible that faith is also mixed with polytheism. The same is mentioned in the following verse:

And most of them do not believe in Allah without associating others (with Him). This level of faith is not ‘faith’; it is called Islam, where there is scope for doubt. In Surah Hujurat it is said:

The dwellers of the desert say, We believe. Say, You don’t believe but say, we submit, and faith has not yet entered into your hearts.[296] The middle stages of faith are those in whom, in addition to testimony there is no doubt or suspicion. Such believers are mentioned in the following verse: 

The believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Apostles then they doubt not…[297] When traditions and verses speak of faith, they mostly imply this level of faith: Those only are believers whose hearts become full of fear when Allah is mentioned and when His communications are recited to them they increase them in faith and in their Lord do they trust.[298]

In the higher stages of faith also there is a faith, immune to and purified of doubt. But there is increase in them in divine realization and taste of fidelity (seeing Allah through the eye of ones faith and tasting the sweetness of faith). This is the perfect love for the Creator and a zeal for seeking His proximity. Such believers are described in verses like the following:

He shall love them and they shall love Him, lowly before the believers, mighty against the unbelievers, they shall strive hard in Allah’s way and shall not fear the censure of any censurer, this is Allah’s grace. He gives it to whom He pleases.[299] This high level of faith is called utmost certainty (Iqan). As the following verse indicates:

And they are sure (yuqinoon) of the hereafter.[300]

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) is quoted in Usul al-Kafi that he said, “Righteousness is that you worship Allah as if you see Him.” This is the stage of Utmost certainty (Iqan). All the three levels of faith are mentioned in the following verse:

On those who believe and do good there is no blame for what they eat, when they are careful (of their duty) and believe and do good deeds, then they are careful (of their duty) and believe, then they are careful (of their duty) and do good (to others), and Allah loves those who do good (to others).[301]

Just as there are three levels of faith, corresponding to each level there are levels of disbelief also. As Allah says: Surely (as for) those who believe then disbelieve, again believe and again disbelieve, then increase in disbelief, Allah will not forgive them nor guide them in the (right) path.[302]

Belief is a higher stage than Islam. In this way the higher stage than belief is fervor and certainty of faith. There are three stages: Knowledge of faith, positive knowledge and certain truth. Allah says in Surah Takathur: Nay! If you had known with a certain knowledge. You should most certainly have seen the hell, then you shall most certainly see it with the eye of certainty.[303] 

Surah Waqiah says:

Most surely this is a certain truth…[304] Amirul Momineen (a.s.) says, “Even if the curtains are removed there would be no increase in my faith.” Thus the three stages of belief are: Knowledge of faith (seeing smoke man knows there is fire), Positive knowledge (man sees fire with his own eyes) and Certain knowledge (man can touch it and create faith in its existence).

[Three stages of infidelity]

Like belief there are three stages of infidelity also. The first is doubts in the principles of faith; such as Allah, the Prophet, Angels, the Holy Quran and the Hereafter. The Holy Quran states about such people in Surah Tawbah: Their hearts are in doubt, so in their doubt do they waver.[305] The second stage of infidelity is that man remains in doubt about these five fundamental principles without even trying to verify whether they are right or wrong. Allah says in Surah Nahl:

So (as for) those who do not believe in the hereafter. Their hearts are ignorant and they are proud.[306] The third stage of infidelity is hatred to the truth besides having doubt and refusing the truth, and here man even tries to destroy the truth. Allah says in Surah Mujadilah:

Surely those who act in opposition to Allah and His Apostle shall be laid down prostrate, and indeed We have revealed clear communications and the unbelievers shall have an abasing chastisement.[307] Just as man earns different stages of heaven, in the same way he becomes eligible for stages of infidelity. Each stage of infidelity makes one eligible to a particular category of Hell. In the same way there are three stages of hypocrisy also: 1) If one has outward faith but doubts the truth. 2) If he manifests faith but has doubts in it, and without researching the truth he denies it in the heart (3) He claims to follow the truth but harbors enmity in the heart. The abode of such a one would be the lowest stage in Hell with a very painful chastisement. 

Allah says:

Surely the hypocrites are in the lowest stage of the fire.[308]

[A condition of a true believer]

Ishaq bin Ammar says that he heard this tradition from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.): Once the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) saw a man in the mosque, who was sleeping with his head hanging down. He was pale and his eyes hollow. So the Prophet called him by his name and asked, “How have you started the morning?” He said, “O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.)! I have started the morning in a condition of certainty.”

The Prophet said, “Every certainty has a reality. What is the reality of your certainty?” He said, “O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.)! This certainty of mine has aggrieved me very much. I have spent a sleepless night. My hot day (because of fasting) will pass in tolerating thirst. My soul is tired of this world and whatever is there in it, and has turned its face away. The matter has reached a stage that I can see Allah’s empyrean ready to take the account of the creatures. All are gathered and I am also among them. I see heavenly people absorbed in divine blessings, greeting each other and sitting on their thrones and as if I see people in Hell getting severe punishment and crying and as if I see the flames of the fire of Hell and could hear their cries.”

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) told his companions, “This is the man whose heart Allah has illuminated by divine effulgence.” Then the Prophet told him, “Always remain in this same condition.” The young man said, “O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.), as I am your devoted servant, pray for me that I am able to achieve martyrdom.” The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) prayed for him. After a few days he was martyred in a holy war.[309]

[Obligatory and Recommended deeds]

In Usul al-Kafi in the same section of ‘Belief and infidelity’ there is a chapter denouncing the causing of hurt to the Muslims. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) said: I asked my Lord on the night of Ascension, “What is the position of a believer near You?” Allah replied, “My believer seeks My proximity only with deeds that I like most. That is, he performs whatever I made obligatory on him. Though I like that besides performing the obligatory acts he should also aim at My nearness through recommended deeds. When I begin to like all his deeds, I become his ears so he may hear with them, I become his eyes so that he can see with them, I become his tongue so that he can speak with it, I become his hand, so that he can get everything through it. If he calls me, I answer him and if he asks something from Me, I grant him.”

[Deviation of the Sufis]

Allamah Majlisi writes in the explanation of this tradition, that according to Shaykh Bahai this tradition is authentic and it is famous among Shias and Sunnis with some minor differences. Some sentences of this tradition like (I become his ears so that he can hear with them) are misinterpreted by Sufis and believers in transmigration of soul. They have gone astray themselves and they mislead others. This wrong belief says that (God forbid) Allah can come into anything and can transmigrate anything in Himself (God forbid). In the same way union with God is also a wrong belief. It means that (God forbid) Allah unites with other things and becomes one with them, and then there is no difference between Allah and that thing and (God forbid), everything became God.

Allamah Majlisi says that reasonable explanations of these traditions are available. They use metaphors and such use is common in the traditions and Quran and they are not against the faith of the true believers. Then he gives the sayings of scholars and mentions his opinion. For the sake of brevity we narrate only the saying of Shaykh Bahai. [People of perception]

Shaykh Bahai says:

For the people of faith, lofty things and secrets are hidden in these statements. Such points that only people of taste can perceive. Their souls are imbued with a fragrance that strengthens their worn-out bones. Only one who has practiced penance can adopt these points. One who has devoted his body for a holy war. Only such a one can obtain divine recognition through such statements and understand their meanings. One who does not understand them and one who is not able to obtain divine recognition from these treasures, there is nothing for him except to obtain base physical pleasures. Such a person is being tested. Generally when he hears such statements, he runs a risk and mostly deviates to transmigration and unification. Allah is much exalted and supreme than this.

This can be understood easily by all.

[Fondness of Allah’s proximity]

Such statements imply the perfection of Allah’s proximity. They express the sway of love over the person’s inner and outer dimensions and His being hidden and apparent. But Allah knows better. What we understand is that, “I love My servants. I grant him My attachment. He becomes completely attached to Me. I keep him in a condition of sanctity. His voice and thoughts remain fully attentive to the unseen world. I take over his five senses. As if I become his ear. That is whatever he hears, he hears for Me. As if I become his eyes. That is whatever he sees, he sees for Me only. Many traditions are available regarding the stages of faith, grades of the people of certainty and their excellence. They can be referred to in Usul al-Kafi, chapter of ‘Belief and Infidelity’.

Our intention is to remind that belief may be of any stage but a true believer must not stop here. On the contrary he should try to obtain all the honors of all the three stages of belief.

[The great signs of certainty]

If Allah’s favor and grace descends on anyone He grants him the light of certainty in his heart. This light can spread in his whole heart. In such circumstances all moral defects and evils are removed and he obtains all kinds of good attributes.

The Holy Quran says in Surah Furqan:

So these are they of whom Allah changes the evil deeds to good ones…[310] Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:

Certainty of faith makes people scale every lofty and astonishing stage. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) explained the dignity and grandeur of certainty when he was told that Isa Ibne Maryam (a.s.) walked on water. He said: If his certainty had been more, he would have walked on air.[311] In the beginning we have quoted Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) that: The signs of certainty of faith are reliance on God, submission to Allah’s will and surrendering the results of our efforts to Allah.

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) has said: Certainty of faith can be seen in the world in the paucity of hopes, in the sincerity of the deeds and in the piety and fear of God.[312] The following is also narrated from him: 

Patience and piety, and sincerity and obedience are the fruits of certainty in belief. When the tree of certainty grows in the heart, its fruits are good manners and lofty attributes.

[Certainty is peace and doubt is perplexity]

The following tradition of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is present in Usul al-Kafi: “Allah the Exalted, on the basis of justice has appointed happiness and comfort in certainty of belief and sorrow and grief in doubt and unhappiness.” A person with certainty of belief experiences heartfelt peace and comfort. He surrenders the results of all such deeds to Allah. He says: It was my duty to act and I have done my work. Now it is upto Allah whether He helps me or not through this. Allah is the Knower of everything. If the result is against his will, he does not become aggrieved. He does not become unhappy with Allah. He never says, against the will of Allah: ‘If it had been so.’ Such a man never becomes proud even if the result is according to his will; on the contrary he thanks Allah. 

Allah says:

No evil befalls on the earth nor in your own souls, but it is in a book before We bring it into existence, surely that is easy to Allah. So that you may not grieve for what has escaped you, nor be exultant at what He has given you, and Allah does not love any arrogant boaster.[313]

[Everything belongs to Allah] 

This verse shows that if the people of certainty do not get something they desired, or something they had is taken away from them, they do not become sad. In the same way if they get something they do not become proud and vain. They consider themselves slaves of Allah and they do not consider themselves independent of Allah in any way.

[People of certainty are satisfied in all conditions]

People of certainty are never fearful and aggrieved even in the most unpleasant circumstances and severe calamities. They never feel alone. They associate all their affairs to Allah. Instead of being troubled, they repose all hopes in the Omniscient and Omnipotent Allah with utmost patience and dignity. They make efforts according to Allah’s commands but leave the results of their efforts to Allah. That Allah may do as He likes.

They know that nothing happens without Allah’s will, permission or leave. Whether the will of Allah is for mercy or justice, every will of God is for the good of man. Even if He puts man to tests, He intends good for him. Hence, disease or good health, prestige or disgrace, riches or poverty, honor or dishonor, whether people appreciate him or not, even life and death; all are same for the people of certainty. They know that whatever the result is, it would be for their good. Indeed true peace in the world and the Hereafter is only achieved by the people of certainty. 

Allah says:

Those are they who shall have the security and they are those who go aright.[314] Allah also says:

He it is Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers that they might have more faith added to their faith.[315] Satisfaction, tranquility, peace and security are the signs of certainty of belief. While the opposite of these are fear, loneliness and sorrow. These are the results of doubt.

[Fear and hope only from Allah] 

A person with certainty of belief in Allah has neither hope nor fear from anyone. If he fears his sins, it is also due to the fear of Allah. He hopes only in Allah for grace and mercy and for the forgiveness of his sins. The center of his fear and expectations is only Allah. Even if he flees from a beast or an enemy, it is not due to fear. He flees from them because Allah has commanded us to defend ourselves. If he hopes from someone, it is also because Allah has commanded us to seek co-operation from each other. In fact his hope is from Allah only that Allah would accomplish his work with the help of others. Allah says in Surah Aale Imran:

Those to whom the people said: Surely men have gathered against you, therefore fear them, but this increased their faith, and they said: Allah is sufficient for us and most excellent is the Protector. So they returned with favor from Allah and (His) grace, no evil touched them and they followed the pleasure of Allah and Allah is the Lord of mighty grace.[316]

[Importance of a deed is based on certainty]

Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has stated:

“A small deed, performed regularly with certainty of faith is better in the view of Allah than a great deed performed without certainty.”[317] Amirul Momineen, Imam Ali (a.s.) has said:

“Man does not taste faith till he does not obtain knowledge and certainty. Because what he has got was never to leave him and whatever he has lost was never going to come to him. And the One Who gives profit or loss (and One Who tests us in all ways) is only the High and Mighty Allah.”[318] [It is better to sleep with certainty of faith]

Imam Ali (a.s.) heard about a Khariji man of Naharwan that he was very constant in performing the Midnight Prayer and reciting the Holy Quran. Imam Ali (a.s.) remarked, “To sleep with certainty is better than praying in doubt.” [319]

The excellence of certainty is such that all the religious personalities, even the Prophet, used to beg Allah for its enhancement. Faith, knowledge and certainty are one and the same thing, and a huge body of Quranic verses and traditions mention its excellence.

[Love of the world]

Love of the world is one of the severe physiological diseases and the greatest sin of the heart, such that all the past Prophets have denounced it. The Holy Quran has condemned it more than any other sin and prohibited it. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams have narrated about it in widely related traditions. A few of them are presented here.

First of all it is necessary to know what ‘world’ means and what is the ‘love of the world’ that is made unlawful? [What does ‘world’ mean?]

If the Arabic word for ‘world’, ‘Duniya’ is on the weight of ‘sughra’ (small) it’s meaning is clear. If its root is taken as ‘d-n-w’ its opposite would be ‘aakhirat’ (Hereafter) which means ‘the most debased’. However if its root is ‘d-n-y-t-‘ (lowliness), its opposite would be ‘loftiness’. There is no doubt that the worldly life is very low, for many reasons, than the life of the Hereafter. While the position of the Hereafter is much elevated and excellent.

‘World’ is the period starting from the time a child is born till the time his soul is separated from the body. The world, with all its necessities, is the place which provides food, clothes, house and other comforts like health, children, property, honor, reputation, power, gaiety and a happy social life to man. In other words, the life of man from birth to his last breath denotes the ‘world’.

[Only deeds remain]

But Prayer, fasting, Hajj, poor-rate and other worship acts are those voluntary actions of man that he performs on Allah’s commands. In the same way, drinking wine, fornication, gambling and others crimes are forbidden by Allah. Though all these things are related to this world the Everlasting God has made their effects everlasting. Man must perform these acts in His name and His remembrance. Or in other words it can be said that if man performs the duties commanded by Allah and refrains from those things prohibited by Him with the intention that all this is for Allah, though related to the transient world the effects of all these actions would be everlasting. That is why they are called deeds of the Hereafter and not of the world. So much so that even if their preliminaries are for Allah, they would also be considered as deeds of the Hereafter.

[Worship is an action devoid of the love of the world]

For example if a person man obtains wealth and decides to save it for spending it in the way of Allah; and then later he spends it on his children and family, pays the poor rate, helps his relatives and performs Hajj with a sincere intention, this action of saving money would be construed as his asset of the Hereafter. It can be said that worship is something completely devoid of the love of the world. But since a sin is committed in the love of the world, its hatefulness is not perceptible, that is why it is necessary to hate it. In this way this topic goes out of the scope of our discussion.

In brief it can be said that love of the world denotes the worldly life and losing oneself in all its necessities, all the pleasures and sensual desires. However, worship acts and sins are different from this, in which their commands are also clear.

[For the eternal world]

In the discussion about principles of beliefs we have explained in detail that it is necessary for man to bring faith in the fact that he is not going to be annihilated with death. Man is not created like animals to take birth in the world and then die and become dust. Man is not created only for this world. Rather man is a creation that has to remain forever, who after taking birth once is not annihilated. Death only creates a distance between him and his material body. His example is like that of a bird that is liberated from the confinement of a cage. After death he finds rest in a world that has no restrictions. He would remain there without having any grief or anger. He would be in a stage of such comfort and peace that there would be no worry and trouble. It is such a success where there is no imagination of failure. Death is a source of respect and capability after which degradation and insult can never approach. In conclusion it can be said that it is a fortunate lifetime, in which happiness would never come to an end.

[Love the Hereafter]

But success in the eternal life is only possible if you leave this world with faith and piety. Faith and piety are the two wings that carry you to that high world. Where success depends on the level of ones faith and piety. It is obvious that obtaining faith and piety and to reach that perfection is only possible in this world. Because, after death, you only have to bear the consequences of your deeds. You will be recompensed according to your deeds in the world. In fact man is a traveler who has to gather, in this world itself, the provisions of his success and salvation after death. It is this matter that highlights the importance of this brief worldly life.

[Love the world for the Hereafter]

Every person with foresight loves this life and prays for a long life. (That is the reason that traditions forbid praying for ones death. Rather it is commanded to always pray to Allah for a long life, so that there is increase in your good deeds and your faith and piety keep on increasing.) And be fearful of an early death. Because such a person knows well that good deeds, that are assets for an everlasting success, are only possible in this world. While after death no more deeds can be performed. In brief we can say that the life of this world is a channel for the everlasting life of the Hereafter. That is why intelligent people like it for themselves. Numerous traditions and verses of Quran throw light on the importance of the life of this world.

In Surah Qasas, Allah says:

And seek by means of what Allah has given you the future abode, and do not neglect your portion of this world...[320] In the same way it is said in the blessed Surah Mominoon: And I seek refuge in Thee! O my Lord! From their presence. Until when death overtakes one of them, he says: Send me back, my Lord, send me back…[321]

[Worldly bounties for the pleasure of Allah]

Since obtaining worldly bounties and pleasure causes enhancement of divine recognition; and man, after getting all these bounties, becomes attentive towards Allah Who is the source of every bounty, the man of intellect prefers it for himself. It is mentioned in Surah Aale Imran: Who has prohibited the embellishment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions?[322] And in Surah Araaf it is said:

Say: Who has prohibited the embellishment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions? Say: These are for the believers in the life of this world, purely (theirs) on the resurrection day…[323] Though both the believers and the disbelievers benefit from these bounties, they are actually created for the believers so that through them they can enhance their love for Allah and they can increase their divine recognition. And in this way success of the Hereafter can be assured for them.

[It is better if it is for the Hereafter]

In other words if the embellishments of the world, comforts and luxuries and the various kinds of bounties are lawful and there is no scope of wastage in using them, then their utilization is lawful for man. However if attachment with all these things is accompanied with an intention that through them one must achieve everlasting rewards, then this would be a praiseworthy and preferable behavior. Like a man who loves his wife because due to her companionship his religion is safe and he does not fall into sins. Also that one should consider ones wife a bounty of Allah; that due to her one obtains peace and comfort and that she is the medium for producing offspring for him that would continue his generation.

It is also necessary to love one children because they are gifts of Allah. If the children are trained properly and become righteous, the parents also share the rewards of their good deeds. There should be love for wealth and worldly riches because they are bestowed by Allah and through them one can obtain success in the Hereafter. There should be love for various good things because they are all expressions of the power and elegance of Almighty Allah. And through them it is possible to enhance ones faith and divine recognition. And only these kindle in ones heart the eagerness for Allah’s proximity.

If one is able to achieve power, honor, wealth, official position, grandeur and reputation one should like them because through them one can perform acts that Allah likes. Like helping the oppressed and taking revenge on their behalf from the oppressors, and helping the poor and the helpless people.

[Temporary love of the world is not blameworthy]

Taken as a whole if the love for the world and things related to it, is for Allah and the Hereafter, it will not be considered as love of the world, which is the topic of our discussion and blameworthy in the light of Holy Quran and traditions. Because such a person does not love a thing for its own sake, permanently, and his love for the world is only due to his love for Allah and the Hereafter. Such a person is like a traveler whose aim is just to reach his hometown. And he wants nothing more than the fulfillment of his basic needs. If during the journey he sees something that would be useful for him in his hometown he tries to obtain it. The conclusion of this discussion is that the love for the world is not a blameworthy act. However in the view of Quran and traditions the blameworthy thing is to love the world wholly and permanently.

Imam Ali (a.s.) heard someone abusing and blaming the world and said to him, “O you, who are blaming the world…Certainly, this world is a house of truth for those who look into it carefully, an abode of peace and rest for those who understand its ways and moods and it is the best working ground for those who want to procure rewards for life in the Hereafter. It is a place of acquiring knowledge and wisdom for those who want to acquire them, a place of worship for the friends of Allah and for Angels. It is the place where prophets received revelations of Allah. It is the place for virtuous people and saints to do good deeds and to be assigned with rewards for the same. Only in this world they could trade with Allah's Favors and Blessings and only while living here they could barter their good deeds with His Blessings and Rewards. Where else could all this be done?”[324]

[Signs of the love of the world for the sake of the Hereafter]

It is necessary to mention that sometimes man doubts that his love for the world is only for Allah and the Hereafter and he does not love it completely and permanently. While as a fact he is completely bound in the love of the world. Because if his fondness of the world is for Allah and the Hereafter, he would hate to commit sins. He would not look at the wealth and property of others with jealousy and contempt and his heart would be pure of miserliness, pride, enmity, self-conceit and revengefulness.

[Permanent Love of the world]

In order to know the difference between natural love and independent love it would be necessary to consider the following astonishing statement of Imam Ali (a.s.). He states in Nahjul Balagha: “If one sees through it, it would bestow him sight, but if one has his eye on it, it would blind him.” Therefore, look at the world keeping in mind its transient nature. Break away your hopes from it. Consider only the Hereafter as the abode of eternity and become attached to it. Make this world a medium for obtaining the Hereafter. The world would blind one who loves it permanently and who tries to obtain it for himself. That is, he would not notice the transient and defective nature of the world. He would attach himself wholly to it and become negligent of the Hereafter. Such a person would be deprived of insight, that is, the eye for reality.

One who loves the world just for worldliness and prefers its joys, pleasures and comforts for this aim and considers himself fortunate, surely becomes negligent of Allah. Considering himself in need of worldly causes he thinks that they are everlasting. This is the reason that he harbors great hopes. He devotes himself for achieving it. Such a person becomes neglectful for the Hereafter or he mostly denies it. Being careless of every sin and unlawful thing he considers worldly achievement a surety for his happiness and in the event of failure to obtain it, he becomes sad and disappointed.

This is the meaning of the love of the world that both reason and religious law have denounced. 

[Ranks of Worldly love] 

There are three levels for the love of the world for its own sake.

First Level

This is the stage when a person does not love anything except the world and what it contains. He is not desirous of anything except material desires. He considers Allah and the Hereafter as useless and imaginary things and says: There is nothing but our life in this world; we live and die and nothing destroys us but time…[325] They mean to say that: Man has an animal existence and death annihilates him. Apart from this there is no other world for him. Thus it is necessary that as far as possible he should try to fulfill his desires.

[Loving the world too much] Second level

It is of the one who loves the world completely and permanently and with it he also seeks the Hereafter. He asks for success and salvation in both the worlds and makes efforts for getting happiness in both, but in the depths of his heart he loves the world more, considers the world as higher and more important than the Hereafter and when it is time for him to choose between the two he sacrifices his Hereafter on the world, like Umar Ibne Saad martyred Imam Husain (a.s.) for the governorship of Rayy.

This example proves true for all those who seek power and fame, who are prepared to commit any crime for a position of power, even if the crimes are harmful for their Hereafter. Then consider the example of worldly wealth, that man is so greedy for it that he does not refrain from even usurping the rights of others, as a result of which his Hereafter is harmed. In brief, it can be said that such a person does not accord any importance to the loss of the Hereafter but if there is any loss to his worldly life, he is very much distraught.

Such people also exist that believe in God and the Last Day. They also make efforts for their Hereafter, but if they commit a sin that would destroy their Hereafter, they are not much concerned about it. But the same people would be highly concerned if there is some loss in their worldly life. In other words, you can say that such a person is more affected with failure in life than in the Hereafter. This proves that he loves the world more than the Hereafter.

[A heart imbued with the love of Allah becomes empty of the love of the world]

But here the love of the world is a thing contradictory to faith in Allah and the Hereafter. In order to strengthen faith in Allah and the Hereafter it is necessary to rid our heart of the love of the world. This can be explained in the following way: The Almighty Allah has made the abode of the Hereafter extremely great, important and everlasting. He has also emphasized this to man and given him the good news as mentioned in Surah Yasin:

So announce to him forgiveness and an honorable reward.[326] The Almighty has commanded the people to remember the Last Day and to hasten in obtaining it. The Holy Quran has stated in Surah Aale Imran: 

And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord, and a Garden, the extensiveness of which is the heavens and the earth; it is prepared for those who guard (against evil).[327] 

In Surah Hadid Allah says:

Hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and to a Garden the extensiveness of which is as extensiveness of the heaven and the earth.[328] Allah has also stated in Surah Mutafaffefeen:

The sealing of it is (with) musk; and for that let the aspirers aspire.[329] On the other hand He has created the world as a temporary place of stay. He made the life of man hard and difficult and after informing him of the lowliness and the mortality of the world, enlightened him about the importance of the Hereafter. In Surah Ankabut it is stated:

And this life of the world is nothing but a sport and a play …[330] Allah states in Surah Nisa: 

Say: The provision of this world is short, and the hereafter is better for him who guards (against evil); and you shall not be wronged the husk of a date stone.[331]

The Almighty Allah has commanded the people not to consider this world as a permanent place of residence. and let not your eyes pass from them, desiring the beauties of this world's life…[332] So that you may not grieve for what has escaped you, nor be exultant at what He has given you…[333]

Do not lose yourself in the colorfulness of the world so much that you do not arrange for the provisions of the journey of the Hereafter. So do not be unduly happy in its joys and do not aggrieve in its calamities.

[Does one become a true believer by merely claiming faith?]

Respected readers! Judge this yourself. There is a person who claims to have faith in Allah, the Prophet and the Hereafter. But in his practical life he opposes the divine commands, prefers the world to the Hereafter and considers this world greater than the Hereafter. In the depths of his heart he loves the world more. Can such a person be true to his claim?

Even if this sin of his is forgiven, due to it a defect has itself occurred in his faith that prevents him from performing good deeds. Would this deserve forgiveness?

[The Heart–moving words of Amirul Momineen(a.s.)]

Amirul Momineen (a.s.) said, “Even if we had no other defect than loving something Allah and His Prophet dislike, it would have sufficed to make us disobey the divine commands and wage war against God.”

[How, loving the world is disobedience?]

Here a question arises that how the love of the world can be a sin? While this quality is under the control of the desire of the heart and till it is not performed practically it does not become a sin. Another thing is that the love of the world is beyond the control of man. Then since it is natural for man to be attracted by the joys, pleasures and sensual desires how man is held responsible for the same? Our reply is that as the desires for infidelity, polytheism, show-off, pride and greed take birth in the heart, in the same way the love of the world finds place in the heart of man. That is why it is prohibited to accommodate the love of the world in our hearts. However, as far as the sins committed by the physical organs of man are concerned, since these acts are not to be committed practically, thinking about them is not a sin. We have explained this topic in detail in the earlier portion of this book.

[Is the love of the world natural?]

It is wrong to say that the love of the world is considered as something over which man has no control. Because in such circumstances, from the time he is born till he reached the age of understanding he had no ability to recognize the desires and pleasures himself, that he could gain satisfaction from them as a result of which he may become attached to them.

[Removing the love of the world from the heart]

If it is said that though the love of the world is not original and inborn, but due to the passage of time as the understanding of man becomes stronger due to the attraction of desires and pleasures the love of the world becomes deep-rooted in the heart. Later it becomes so strong that it is beyond human capacity to remove it and Almighty Allah, Who is just, does not burden man with something beyond his capacity. [Since the love of the world begets poverty and destitution it is not obligatory to forgo it] In reply we would say that though it is not impossible to remove the love of the world from ones heart, for some people it is difficult because it begets poverty and decrease in wealth, then it is not obligatory, but recommended. As would be discussed in the following pages. It is necessary for every sane person to decrease the love of the world. And that which is made unlawful is that you increase the love of the world so much that it exceeds the love for the Hereafter.

[It is a voluntary act to have more and more love for the Hereafter]

It is an obvious fact that preferring the love for the Hereafter over the love of the world is within the control of man. It can be explained further in the following way: Man is ignorant about the Hereafter from the time of his birth till he reaches the age of maturity (15 years for boys and 9 years for girls). Because he is only aware of the worldly factors that end with death and he is not aware of the life after death. That is why he loves worldly life and likes its pleasures, comforts and selfish desires and gives more importance to it. But as soon as he matures and the light of cognition shines on him, it becomes obligatory on him to bring faith in the Hereafter. That is, according to the laws of the Holy Quran it becomes obligatory on him to have certainty that an everlasting life begins after death, whose analogy cannot be drawn from the life of this world. It is that very place where the Almighty Allah rewards and recompenses the people in accordance with their deeds according to the details given in the Holy Quran.

It is obligatory for man that along with having love for this apparent world he should also make continuous efforts for the success of the Hereafter. This is the meaning of having faith in the Hereafter. As his love for the Hereafter would increase, his love for the world would go on decreasing gradually. Especially if one observes the defects and shortcomings of worldly life and the difficulties resulting from them, there would be continuous decrease in his love for the world. If only one keeps in mind the decadence and the temporal and unreliable nature of the world, ones heart would dissociate with it and incline towards the Hereafter.

In brief, it can be said that as faith in Hereafter becomes stronger and more one contemplates on the defects of this world, his dissociation with the world goes on increasing. Since faith and contemplation is voluntary, forgoing the love of the world and purifying the heart of its roots is also a voluntary act. 

The Holy Quran and traditions have prohibited the love of the world. That is why, how can it be said that it is an involuntary thing beyond the control of man? Scholars like Muhaqqiq Ardebeli and the writer of Jawahir have included the love of the world among prohibited acts. In the same way Shaykh Hurre Amili in his book Bidayatul Hidaya says regarding its unlawfulness:

Seeking worldly status and making religion a medium to get worldly things is unlawful. It is not allowed to love and be greedy for the world. This respected scholar has mentioned many traditions on the illegality of the love of the world in his book Jihad in the chapter of ‘the love of the world’.

[The Universe would disintegrate if there is no love for the world]

If the question is posed that how can Islam prohibit the love for the world, because if there is no love for the world and no concern with its conditions who would go out to train oneself for earning livelihood and earn ones livelihood? Then no one would have attraction to the pleasures, desires and embellishments of the world. Even the system of marriage and procreation would be destroyed and the whole world would be in chaos.