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Godward Wayfaring

By: Allama Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Husayni Tehrani (R.A.)

He is the Almighty
In the Name of Allah, the All‑Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
May God's blessings be upon Muhammad and his immaculate Household, and may God's curse be upon all their enemies.
God, Exalted and Almighty, has said: We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves, till it is clear to them that it is the truth. Suffices it not, by thy Lord, that He is witness over everything? Indeed they are in doubt about the meeting with their Lord. Indeed He encompasses everything. (41:53‑54)
A blessed dawn! An auspicious night!
The night of destiny, when I was granted this pardon.
I was made besides myself, by the beams of the lights of the Essence, And offered the cup of the Attributes' revelation.
The materialistic human being dwells in the dark wilderness of materialism, helpless in the midst of the shoreless sea of appetites and pluralities. Every moment he is knocked around by the waves of material attachments. Before he can recover his balance and pull himself up after being struck down by a wave, he is knocked down by another, a more fearsome and terrible wave arising from attachment to wealth, money, wife and children. These waves, with their perpetual assaults, draw him into the dark depths of this fearsome ocean and his cries .and laments are drowned in the uproar of its waves.
Wherever he looks around, he is threatened and intimidated by deprivation and regret, which are inalienable effects of transient matter.
In this midst, he is occasionally fondled by the draughts of an enlivening and refreshing breeze called jadhbah [an attraction towards the Divine], and he feels as if this kindly breeze were trying to lead him in a certain direction and towards some goal. This breeze is not continuous; it comes only once in a while.
Indeed, during the course of your life you will come across wafts of breeze from your Lord. (When they blow), expose yourself to them and do not avoid them.
In such moments, the seeker of God takes on a new life and, under the influence of that divine jadhbah, resolves to cross the world of plurality and to set out on this journey in any manner that he can and to rescue himself from this tormenting and perilous tumult. This journey is called wayfaring (sayr wa suluk) in the terminology of the gnostics (`urafa').
Sulukmeans travelling along a path, and sayr means watching the spectacle and features of the stages and phases encountered on the way.
The provisions (zad) required for this spiritual journey consist of the efforts and austerities undertaken to discipline the soul. As it is very difficult to detach oneself from corporeal attachments, one can depart from the world of corporeal nature (`alam‑e tab) by gradually cutting off the binding chains of the world of plurality.
One has not yet recovered from the weariness of this journey when he enters the realm of barzakh, which is the world of psychic multiplicity (katharat‑e anfusiyyah). Here, he clearly observes the riches stocked by matter and external pluralities within the precincts of his physical nature. These are the same imaginal psychic entities that came into being as a result of encounter with and attachment to external pluralities and they are considered part of their effects, products, and fruits.
These thoughts become an obstacle to his journey and they take away his peace of mind, and when the wayfarer (salik) wishes to take repose in the remembrance of God, all of a sudden they besiege him like a deluge that threatens to destroy him.
The soul, trampled all day by thoughts, Of fears of downfall, profit and loss, And left neither with tranquillity, nor dignity, nor charm, Nor of a heavenward journey any contrivance.
It is obvious that the harm and trouble caused by the psychic pluralities is stronger and more powerful than that of external pluralities. For one can save oneself from the disturbance and onslaught of external pluralities by exercising free will and through isolation and seclusion, but certainly one cannot avoid the trouble of nafsani thoughts[4] by this means, as they accompany one closely and intimately.
The wayfarer on the path of God and the way of sincerity and servitude is not deterred by these enemies. He makes his resolve and with that sacred provision pursues the way to his destination, leaving behind the realm of thoughts arising from his psyche, which is called `Barzakh' (the intermediate realm). However, the wayfarer must be very vigilant and careful lest there remain any of these thoughts in the corners of the heart. That is because it is characteristic of these imaginal entities to conceal themselves at the time of their expulsion in some hidden corner of the heart, so that the wayfarer imagines that he has got rid of their evil and has been relieved of all remnants of the realm of Barzakh. But when the traveller reaches the spring of life in order to be appease his thirst from the waters of the fountains of wisdom, all of a sudden they assault him and finish him off with the weapons of oppression and tyranny.
The parable of such a wayfarer is that of one who has filled a pool in his house with water. And as he does not use it for some time, all the impurities and dirt that it contains settle down at the bottom. However, when the water becomes clear and he imagines its clarity and purity to be enduring, as soon he enters it or wishes to wash something in its water all the dirt and sediment soil the clear water again and its black spots reappear on the surface. Therefore, the wayfarer must have obtained such mental poise through exercises and self‑discipline that the offspring of imagination are reduced to fossils and are unable to disturb his mind at the time of concentrating on the Worshipped One.
When the wayfarer passes through the realms of corporeal nature and Barzakh, he enters the world of the spirit, and then passes through certain stages whose detailed description will come later, God willing.
But to put it briefly, the wayfarer, with Divine succour, having witnessed his own self and the Divine Attributes and Names, gradually reaches the stage of total annihilation (fana' kulli) and, thereafter, the station of life in God (baqa'), whereat eternal life becomes established for him.
Never dies one whose hearts has been quickened by love, inscribed is our immortality on the world's tablet.
This principle is confirmed as a result of reflection and contemplation on the noble verses of the Qur'an. God says in one place in the Glorious Qur'an that the wayfarers martyred in God's way are immortal and that they never die: Don't regard those who are killed in God's way as dead; nay, they are alive and they receive their sustenance near their Lord.] (3:169)
Elsewhere He states that everything is fated to perish save the Face of the Lord (28:88)
And at another place He says: "Everything that is near the Lord is everlasting.." (16:96)
By putting these verses together side by side one comes to know that those who are alive and receive their sustenance and livelihood near their Lord are the ones referred to as the `Face of Allah', who, as affirmed by explicit Qur'anic verses, are not subject to destruction and dissolution.
Moreover, one comes to know from the noble verses of the Qur'an that that which is meant by the indestructible Face of God, the Exalted, are the Divine Names (asma'ullah).
To explain, in another verse this `Face of God,' which is imperishable and indestructible, has been interpreted as constituting the Divine Names, which are given the attributes of majesty and glory: All that is in it shall perish, but the Face of thy Lord, possessing Glory and Majesty, shall endure. (55:26‑27)
All the exegetes of the Qur'an are unanimous that the word dhu (possessing) is the adjective for wajh (face). Accordingly, the verse means: `the Face of your Lord, which possesses Glory and Majesty, is everlasting.' As we know, the `face' of everything is that wherewith one comes toface towards it. Hence the `face' of every thing is that which manifests it (mazhar), and the `manifestations' are the very Names of God wherewith all creatures face God. The conclusion that follows is that all existents are subject to annihilation and dissolution excepts the Names of Divine Majesty and Beauty. It follows from this that the wayfarers towards God who attain the felicitous station of `nay, they are alive, and they receive their sustenance near their Lord constitute the Names of Majesty and Beauty of the Lord, Almighty and Exalted.
From this, the meaning of the statement of the Immaculate Imams‑may God's Peace be upon them‑who declared `Nahnu asma'ullah' (`We are the Names of God') becomes clear. Or else the exoteric station of outward authority over the community and their role of mediation in respect of the matters of the Shari'ah and the exoteric divine laws is not something that could be described by them in this manner. Rather, it means the same f and' and annihilation in the Essence of the One (dhat‑a ahadiyyat), which is implied in their being the `wajhullah,' the `face' of God, and complete manifestation of His Attributes of Majesty and Beauty‑something which is not comparable to any station or office.

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