Pleasure of Supplication

You can experience it yourself. One night eat and sleep less. Get up at dawn. Recite a few units of Prayer. Converse with Allah in private. Then do not be content with one or two nights. Make it a habit. Then you would relish the taste of nearness of God. Then you will taste the sweetness of His remembrance. And then you will be able to understand the grades of spirituality to some extent.

Eat and sleep a little less. Take this gift for meeting Him.

Be among those who sleep less at night and be among those who seek forgiveness at dawn.[239] The second couplet points to what is mentioned in the 17th and 18th verse of Surah Zariyat. They used to sleep but little in the night. And in the morning they asked forgiveness.[240]

[Worship slashes the veil]

Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is reported to have said, “There is no veil between a person and Allah, darker and more terrible than uncontrolled desires and self. And to slay these two no weapon or instrument is there except considering oneself in need of God, having fear of God, remaining hungry and thirsty during the day and keeping awake at night.[241]

Abstain from following the self. Because there is nothing deadlier like this beast that subdues people in the way of God.[242]

[It is a difficult but important task]

Purification of self or cleaning oneself from spiritual impurities according to religious law though very difficult for the self, is the sure way of good fortune, deliverance, success and happiness. The Holy Quran says in Surah Shams:

He will indeed be successful who purifies it.[243] Almighty Allah also says:

We will most certainly make him live a happy life.[244] No treasure is obtained without toil. Oh brother! Only he gets paid who has worked hard.[245] Although difficulties borne in this world are indeed compensated in the Hereafter. Allah says in Surah Haqqah:

Eat and drink pleasantly for what you did beforehand in the days gone by.[246]


After purification of self the thing needed is assimilation. Assimilation means the embellishment of self and the embellishment of self is contemplation and remembrance of God. It is obtained by contemplating about God after observing the universe and by always having His remembrance. 

Almighty Allah says:

Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day there are signs for men who understand. Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain! Glory be to Thee, save us then from the chastisement of the fire.”[247]


Allah Almighty says in Surah Rum:

Do they not reflect within themselves: Allah did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them two but with truth and (for) an appointed term? And most surely most of the people are deniers of the meeting of their Lord.[248] That is they even deny that there is a life after death.

[Material Progress]

Now consider this verse:

They know the outward of this world's life, but of the hereafter they are absolutely heedless.[249] Today most of the people are like this. Their thinking is limited to this world. That is why they are content with knowledge that would be useful in this life only. They create a private world. That is why today man has taken such strides in material spheres. Man has attained perfection in agriculture and other scientific and technological fields. He has made astonishing progress in medicine. Heart surgery has become possible and heart transplant has become a reality. But it is regrettable that no attention is paid to the spiritual diseases of the heart. New inventions and all the facilities of life are available today but no arrangement is made for the satisfaction of the heart. Leaving the limits of the earth, man has reached space. He has traveled three million twenty two thousand kilometers from the earth to land on the moon but what a pity that he has no control over his heart. He reached places that none had even imagined, but as far as spirituality is concerned he has regressed. He has become worse than animals. Though he has learnt that the Solar System is in its old age then also he does not worry about the end of the world. He sees people dying everyday. He knows that no one is immortal, but it has no effect on him. He is not able to realize that there is life after death.

[Another World]

People do not realize that when there is a hidden wisdom in everything in the world, there should be a purpose behind the existence of the world also. This world was not created without any purpose; just to be destroyed one day. Thus there is another life after death and there is another world after this. Such a world, that he can reach it after being released from this terrible life and remain in everlasting comfort and happiness. Happiness, which is not accompanied by sorrow.

[This world is for divine recognition (Marefat)]

Allah has bestowed wisdom and ability to man to contemplate on this world and through it obtain knowledge and recognition. That he can see that the tiniest of the creatures has a cache of wisdoms. So that he gains certainty on God Who has bestowed this wisdom. He should realize that there is some reason behind his creation. To find this he must refer to the Quran and the traditions of Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad. He can make his task easier this way.

In this way, he would know that he is created to recognize Allah and worship Him. He is created to achieve great perfections in qualities and manners. He is created to achieve a purified life of the world and the Hereafter. He is created to see such blessings, as he cannot even imagine. Almighty Allah says:

So no soul knows what is hidden for them of that which will refresh the eyes, a reward for what they did.[250] In other words, Allah Almighty has created human beings and also created a perishable world as well as an everlasting one. The divine aim in this is as follows:

First of all, we must see the beautiful qualities of God. That is, we must ponder on God’s Power, Wisdom, Generosity and Mercy. Then in this background we should think upon the secondary divine qualities. That is, the Justice of God and His Wrath on the unjust and disbelieving people. There are many verses regarding this, but we content ourselves by those we have already quoted. 

[Contemplation is the best worship act]

Amirul Momineen (a.s.) used to say, “Admonish yourself by contemplation.” Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, “The greatest worship act is to contemplate upon Allah and His Power.”[251]

Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) says, “Worship does not mean only praying and fasting in excess. True worship is contemplating upon the acts of Allah.” Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, “The worship of Abu Zar (Mercy of Allah be on him) consisted mostly of contemplation and gaining lesson.” Another tradition of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is recorded that he said, “An hour of contemplation is better than a year’s worship and only those who have sense, accept good counsel.”[252]

The level of worship depends on recognition of God. As a result of contemplation if the level of recognition increases, its rewards would also magnify. Perhaps it may not be obtained by year’s worship with less recognition and could be obtained by an hour’s worship with increased recognition. But it does not mean that one should give up prayer and only contemplate. Amirul Momineen (a.s.) says, “If people had contemplated on the great power and huge bounty of Allah, they would have returned to the right path and would have continued to fear the punishment of Hell.”[253]

[Contemplation results in good deeds]

Imam Ali (a.s.) says, “Contemplation calls us towards good deeds and invites us to act on its result.” Allamah Majlisi explains this tradition thus: This tradition includes all kinds of contemplation. Contemplation on the greatness of Allah prepares us for fear of God and His obedience. It creates the realization about the temporal nature of the world and its bounties; so that if need arises we can forsake them by Allah’s command. Man derives a lesson from the consequences of others. The unjust and cruel people get punishment in the world from Allah or the people, so he tries to protect himself from injustice, bad deeds and manners. By contemplating on the secrets of worship he learns their aims and thus he performs them with more attention and in the best way. Contemplating on the high stages of the Hereafter he strives to achieve them. Contemplation on the laws of religion and legal problems makes a man act upon them properly and keep himself from sins. In this way the benefit of contemplating on good qualities and high morals is that man obtains them for himself and begins to decorate himself with them.

[How to contemplate?]

Hasan Saiqal says that he asked Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.), “People relate (a tradition of the Prophet) that contemplation of an hour is better than standing in prayers the whole night. So in what manner should one contemplate? Imam said, “He should visit the ruins or deserted places and ask, ‘Where those who inhabited you? Where are those who built you? What has happened to you? Why don’t you speak? (There is none inside you who can speak, all have passed away).

[Contemplation is the way of recognition]

Big and small creations spread in the universe are signs of Allah. By contemplation one realizes that there is a creator for every creation. There is indeed someone who creates motion in everything that moves. In this way when a man contemplates he sees an aim and wisdom behind each creation. Hence he understands that the creator of these things is very Wise. His wisdom and power is unlimited. He is managing the whole system of the universe in the best way. Whether animals or humans, He has created the system of their lives with much wisdom. Man also knows how to control the system to a certain extent. He has also got intelligence and understanding. This ability to control the system, this intelligence and understanding are themselves creations in the universe. And man himself is a creation. He did not exist before, but was created later. Can the creator of an intelligent being like man, be Himself unintelligent?

[Hands of the clock]

The famous French philosopher and writer, ‘Walter’ (1694-1778) is considered among the most intelligent people of the world. He writes in his Dictionary of Philosophy:

The material but the best way to acquire divine recognition is that we should not stop at just carefully observing the system of the creations. We should also be attentive to the aims and intentions behind the creation of those created things. Then he says, “When I see a clock that its dong indicates different hours, I immediately conclude that this clock is certainly made by some sense and intelligence. That is why it shows time in a proper and organized way. In the same way when I see the parts of my body, I conclude that some intelligent being has certainly made these physical organs to exist in an orderly manner…[254]

The hands of the clock are also like this. A special machine is constructed and the hour, minute and second hands are fixed in a particular way. If one hand fails, the whole clock will not work correctly. An intelligent man has constructed it very carefully. When this is the condition of this small clock then surely such a vast universe and its well-arranged system is also made by the Wise and Knowing God.

[The Human Body]

The human body is a very astonishing thing. It has systems of chewing, swallowing and digesting etc. Besides, it also includes the reproductive system. It has a perfect circulatory system to purify blood and make new blood. It has different kinds of organs like the heart, the liver, the kidney, the eyes and the ears etc. and most of all an amazing thing, called intelligence. It also has the five senses. Contemplating on each and every thing amazes us. Indeed the Powerful God has created all these things.

The Holy Quran says:

And Allah has created you and what you make.”[255] Allah has given man every kind of ability. He has given intelligence and understanding and of course the power to utilize his ability correctly or wrongly and man would himself see the result of his actions.

[Habit or Warning]

If man continues looking at things just casually, as his habit is, he would never get insight or divine recognition. He should observe things with deep insight, intelligence and in a proper way. In this way he would be able to take lesson from it and be able to ponder upon Allah’s unlimited wisdom and power. Seeing a new thing man says, “What a wonderful thing is it! Now, more wonderful is the creation of this thing anew. That is its coming into existence from non-existence.

Almighty Allah says in Quran:

And how many a sign in the heavens and the earth which they pass by, yet they turn aside from it.[256] For one whose soul is on the level of enlightenment and refulgence the whole universe is the book of the Almighty.[257]

[Study the Quran]

To practice contemplation and gain recognition of Allah we must study the verses of Quran. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has explained in four sittings, the points about oneness of Allah to his follower Mufaddal. We must study this. Besides the Holy Quran, we must also read other books that mention details about the earth, the sky and other creatures, and the study of which would increase our recognition of God. Here we present some incidents for increasing divine recognition.

[The Infidel king and the Pious vizier]

In times gone by, there was a materialistic infidel king while his vizier was very pious. One day the vizier thought of edifying the king though it was not an easy task. The vizier built a magnificent palace in wilderness without informing the king and planted different kinds of fruits and flowers around it. One day, while hunting, the king and his vizier passed by that palace. The king was surprised and asked who has built that palace, adding, “I have passed by this way several times but I have never seen it before.” The vizier said, “It is possible that it was built by itself.” “How is that possible?” asked the king. The vizier said that there were frequent storms in the sea in that area and hence it was possible that stones might have broken from the mountains and gathered there floating in the storm. Then by chance they piled on one another. In the same way the trees and plants grew up there because of storms. The king said that no one would agree with this and this splendid palace could not be made without the help of a skilled architect. “You must inquire who built it here?” The vizier said, “You say that this palace cannot be constructed automatically. Then surely someone has built it intentionally. Now, is the human body not more complex than this structure? Besides human beings, are not all types of beasts and vegetables more astonishing than this? Can any wise man, seeing the system of whole universe say that all of it were made without any source?” This changed the thinking of the king and he also became a believer.

[Discussion of Ali Bin Mitham]

Ali Bin Mitham was a great Shia Scholar in the time of Mamun Rashid. Shaykh Mufeed has mentioned that: One day Ali Bin Mitham went to Hasan Bin Sahl the vizier of Mamun Rashid besides whom sat a denier of God and an irreligious person. People were giving him great respect and were listening intently to his unbecoming talks. Ali Bin Mitham was very saddened by this. He said, “I have seen a very strange thing today.” People asked, “What have you seen?” He replied, “I saw a boat without a sailor ferrying people across the Tigris River.” The apostate said, “O vizier! Do not listen to this person. He has no sense and he has become mad. A boat is made of wood and inorganic matter and it has no wisdom, sense and determination that it can ferry people across the river without the intervention of a sailor.”

Ali Bin Mitham asked the denier, “What is this? Why do You call me mad because of the absence of a sailor. Just see in what a perfect way the sun, moon, earth, planets and all things present in them are moving. How perfect is their motion and their arrangement, and you say that the boat of this vast universe is sailing without a sailor! In spite of this, you consider yourself intelligent? The denier was ashamed and he realized that the fictitious story of the boat was narrated by way of guidance. This incident is recorded on Page 237 of Shaykh Abbas Qummi’s Tohfatul Ahbab.

[White and Yolk of an egg]

Abu Shakir Desani was also an apostate and a denier of God. One day he came to Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and said “O Ja’far Ibne Muhammad! Take me to my Lord.” The Imam said, “Take a seat.” He sat. At that time a child was playing with a hen’s egg. The Imam told the child, “Son! Give me this egg.” The child handed him the egg. Then Imam said to Desani, “See this egg is like a strong fort. A strong thick peel is surrounding it. There is a delicate membrane under this skin and a type of liquid silver is floating inside it. Within it is a gold-like yolk, which is also floating. Neither the yolk mixes with albumen nor the albumen mixes with the yolk. Nothing is seen coming out of it automatically, that whether it will produce a male or a female. After a few days, the peel is broken from inside and a beautiful chick comes out. O, Desani! The cause of its creation is Allah, the Wise and Powerful or is it your imagination? How has it come into existence automatically? Abu Shakir Desani bowed down his head for some time and then raised it and said, “I bear witness that there is no god but one God and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Messenger. I repent for my former belief.”[258]

[Words of Allah]

Signs of existence of God are incomputable and there are many witnesses of His Oneness. Say, if the sea were ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would surely be consumed before the words of my Lord are exhausted, though We were to bring the like of that (sea) to add thereto.[259] Every creation is a word of Allah. It has testified to His wisdom, power, oneness and uniqueness. It speaks of Allah and His unlimited attributes. For the wise, every green leaf is a book of Allah’s recognition.[260]

[A Great Power]

Think deeply on the condition of yourself and others. Man makes a determination to do a lot of things but in a short time his intention ends. He proceeds further with many tasks and has faith in getting results but there is no result. On the contrary, sometimes results are beyond his expectations. Breaking of intentions and overturning of hopes proves that there is a greater power that has kept his condition under its control. We have already mentioned the details of this in the chapter of polytheism. For more insight we mention here some famous incidents in brief.

[Shaddad could not see his self-made Paradise]

A city was constructed by the command of king Shaddad. Its surrounding walls were a hundred and twenty miles long each. The buildings therein were made of gold and silver bricks. The trees were also made of white silver and red gold. Instead of fruits, diamonds and precious stones were fixed in those trees. Coral and pearls were strewn on the ground in such a way that soil could not be seen. When Shaddad was informed about the completion of his paradise, he went there to enjoy it but could not even put a step inside it as his end approached and he died immediately.

[Pharaoh was disappointed]

Pharaoh was in pursuit of Prophet Musa (a.s.) and Bani Israel along with six hundred thousand men so that he could apprehend and punish them. When they reached the Nile, by the miracle of Prophet Musa (a.s.), twelve paths appeared in the sea and Bani Israel crossed the sea. The Pharaoh also followed them with his soldiers; but when his complete army reached the middle, the paths in the sea disappeared by the command of Allah and the whole army along with Pharaoh was drowned.

[Nimrod, Abraha and Prophet Sulaiman (a.s.)]

Nimrod threw Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) in the blazing fire to kill him but the fire did not burn him and Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) came out from the fire safe and sound. At last a powerful king like Nimrod died because a puny insect, a gnat that entered his nose. Abraha moved towards the Ka’ba with his large army and elephants to demolish it. But he was disappointed when he reached there because Allah sent a flock of birds, each holding three pebbles of mud in their beak and claws. They dropped these pebbles on them and they all were destroyed. One day Prophet Sulaiman (a.s.) said, “I want to rest today. No one should come to me.” Then he went to the roof and stood there supported by his staff (walking stick). The angel of death took away his soul in this same condition.

[Remembrance of Allah]

Remembrance of God is of two types: Obligatory and recommended. Obligatory remembrance is in three situations. The first type of obligatory remembrance is that when man sees a creature he should remember its Creator. Seeing the created things he should recognize the unlimited power and wisdom of God. He should consider Allah as the fountainhead of all bounties and should accommodate His love in his heart. In order to recognize Allah in the first stage, this type of remembrance is obligatory. When man has recognized Allah to the obligatory extent and begins to love Him and becomes His devotee, then continuous remembrance of Allah becomes recommended upon him. That is, it would be recommended that whenever he sees a creature he should remember its Creator. Whenever he sees a bounty he should consider it to be a gift of Allah. And in this way he should never forget Allah. Such remembrance is the best worship act. There are many verses in the Holy Quran emphasizing such remembrance:

Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth. Remember therefore Allah’s benefits and do not act corruptly in the land, making mischief.[261] Remembrance does not stand for mere verbal remembrance, rather it denotes remembering Allah all the time. In the same way Quran says: Remember therefore Allah's benefits and do not act corruptly in the land, making mischief.[262] This verse implies that if there is remembrance of Allah, there would be no mischief, and when there is no remembrance of Allah there would definitely be mischief. Destruction is certain, and forsaking the remembrance of Allah is destruction itself. In the same way it is mentioned in Quran:

So when you have performed your devotions, then laud Allah as you lauded your fathers, rather a greater lauding.[263]

[Pride on ancestry]

Before the advent of Islam, after performing the rituals of Hajj, the Arab polytheists used to stay in Mina for a few days. There they lauded their ancestors in poetry readings among the different tribes. Allah revealed this verse to end this custom. Nothing but pride is gained by lauding ones ancestry and it could not even benefit the descendants in the Hereafter. Whereas Allah has granted man all the bounties in addition to ancestors. Allah rears men through ones parents. Thus all the bounties are from Allah only and He is more deserving of praise than the ancestors. In addition to material bounties Allah also bestows spiritual ones. The Quran says:

And remember Him as He has guided you, though before that you were certainly of the erring ones.[264] Also the Quran says:

But when the prayer is ended, then disperse abroad in the land and seek of Allah’s grace and remember Allah much, that you may be successful.[265] [Remembrance and thanks all the time] To remember Allah after getting His bounties increases recognition, love and faith. Till the time one achieves recognition, love and faith, it is obligatory to keep remembering Allah. After that it becomes desirable and it enhances faith. Remembrance of Allah after seeing the bounties is actually thankfulness. However to remember Allah on every bounty and all the time is very difficult, rather impossible. There are uncountable bounties of Allah upon every person and unintentional negligences of people are also incalculable. The Quran says:

And if you count Allah’s favors, you will not be able to number them.[266]

[One Breath]

Man breathes more than twenty thousand times in twenty- four hours. He remains unmindful in sleeping hours but after awaking also he does not pay attention to a favor like respiration. If breathing stops for a few minutes, man would die at once. Sadi Shirazi has stated in an excellent way: When the breath goes inside it gives life and when it comes out, it refreshes.[267] Therefore there are two blessing in every breath and we should be grateful for each breath. In what manner can we thank Allah? All the creatures, including the angels, together cannot thank Allah sufficiently.

[Man forgets himself]

One who remembers Allah more and more will get, in addition to divine recognition and God’s love, the benefits and happiness of both the worlds, while forsaking Allah’s remembrance makes one a victim of misfortune and deprivation. One also forsakes Allah’s remembrance forgets his own self. He does not fulfill his own right. He does not achieve happiness in the way of faith and actions.

Almighty Allah says in Quran: 

And be not like those who forsook Allah, so He made them forsake their own souls: these it is that are the transgressors.[268] Such people forget to obtain for themselves the provision of the Hereafter.

[Man is not only a physical body]

Intellectual and textual proofs (Quran and traditions) show that the reality of man is his soul; and his body is just its vehicle and the medium of its actions. All the movements of the body are due to the soul. When the soul exits the body it cannot make any movement but even after death, man’s soul remains. The soul is immortal and would remain forever. If in the world it causes good deeds to be performed through the body, after its expulsion it gets their benefits and lives in peace. But if in the world the soul causes man to do bad deeds through his body, it also suffers a lot of grief and sorrow afterwards. 

The common man considers his material life to be everything. He thinks he would be annihilated after death. He thinks his body is everything. That is why he does everything for his body, but does not even think about his soul. For the well being of the body, he refrains from every comfort and delicacy but does nothing for the health of his soul. He goes for major operations on his body and spends all his wealth in it but cultivates the greatest of spiritual diseases. He does not care that he would be punished for thousands of years in the Purgatory (Barzakh). Man forgets his soul, that is his self, and this is the result of forgetting God.

We do not say that you must not treat the body if it is sick. It is necessary to have it cured so that it can accomplish good deeds according to the commands of God. What we say is that along with the treatment of the body, we should also pay attention to the remedy of the soul. The cure of the soul is a thousand times more important than that of the body. The life of the Hereafter is much greater in comparison to the short life of the world. The hardships there, are many times greater than worldly problems. We must arrange for avoiding those hardships. Spiritual diseases also cause pain and hardships in the world, and physical aches are nothing compared to them. Observe this yourself; material comforts do not remove spiritual pains.

[Concern for obligatory and unlawful acts]

The second instance when remembrance of Allah is obligatory is while performing an obligatory or an unlawful act. One should not be lazy in fulfilling an obligatory act and abstain from unlawful acts in all circumstances. For instance one should not leave a fast without any valid reason in the month of Ramadan and perform Hajj when it is obligatory upon us. When it is time to pay the Zakat or Khums at the end of the year, we must pay it immediately. One should remember Allah in difficulties and must never despair of His Mercy. Once a person begins to remember Allah in unlawful and obligatory acts then if there is occasion to perform recommended deeds, it is better if he is capable and has divine opportunity to also perform these recommended deeds. 

It is recommended that when meeting Muslims one should be first in saluting. If anyone salutes, it becomes obligatory to reply. He should be kind to the relatives and behave with his blood relatives and those related to him by birth in such a way that they are pleased with him. For example if a relative is sick, one should visit him. If he is in some difficulty, he should try to solve the problem. For instance if the relatives become unhappy for not visiting them in their sickness or solving their difficulty then it would become obligatory. Even if they do not become unhappy it is recommended to treat them with kindness. (Although if there is a clash between the pleasure of relatives and divine law, the latter would get precedence).

The same applies when facing prohibited acts. At this time also it is obligatory to remember Allah. If there is risk of a prohibited glance we must lower the gaze or move it away. If there is risk of hearing an unlawful sound, we should stop it or retreat from there. If we fear that unlawful words may slip out from the tongue, we should at once think of Allah. If we want to prevent ourselves from the unlawful, we should abstain from detestable acts. Anyhow, we must not forget Allah at any time and we must remember Him more and more.

[The best and the most difficult work]

According to a tradition of Usul al-Kafi in the ‘Book of Faith and Infidelity’, in the Chapter of Justice, it is narrated from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that, “The best deeds are three’. In another tradition the words used for these acts are ‘the most difficult acts’. The opening words of yet another tradition are: Till the time a believer is tested with these three things they would seem very difficult to him:

(1) Desire justice for others just as you would like to have it for yourself. So much so that do not prefer something for yourself till you are not satisfied with others also having the same thing.

(2) Render monetary assistance to your brother-in- faith. (Help him if he is in need)

(3) Remember Allah in every condition. Remembrance of Allah does not mean only uttering, ‘Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no God except Allah and Allah is Great.’ (Though they are also important). Rather, remembrance of Allah means that when you come across something Allah has commanded, you must perform it, and when you some across something that Allah, the High and the Mighty has forbidden, you refrain from it. 

There are four traditions in Usul al-Kafi on this subject.