Stability and Perseverance (Thubat wa Dawam)
By: Allama Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Husayni Tehrani (R.A.)
Explanation of this notion requires an introduction. That which can be inferred from Qur'anic verses and sacred traditions is that whatever external entities we perceive by the means of our senses and whatever external acts we perform and which assume reality in the world of matter are accompanied with certain realities lying beyond the realm of material and physical bodies. Beyond these sensible appearances are realities of a higher order, divested of the dress of matter, time, space and all its accidents. And when those realities descend from their own reality they take material and sensible forms in the external world. It is to this fact that the blessed verse of the Glorious Qur'an expressly refers: [And there is no thing but that its stores are with Us, and We do not send it down except in a known measure.] (15:21)
To give a brief explanation, in general that which exists in this world of matter has a reality before its external occurrence, a reality that is without extensions and dimensions. However, on its descent it becomes defined and delimited to certain particular magnitudes with Divine determination and in accordance with the Knowledge of the Supreme Creator: [No affliction befalls in the earth or in yourselves, but it is in a Book, before We create it; that is easy for God.] (57:22)
The forms of the external world are subject to corruption and destruction as they are finite and limited and are subject to material accidents pertaining to their coming into being and perishing: [That which is with you is perishing . . . .] (16:96)
But nothing except permanence, unchangeability and universality applies to those higher immaterial realities which make up the Divine stores, and whose mode is that of immateriality and malakut: [And that which is with God is enduring, ] (16:96)
And to this fact and truth refers the following tradition which is accepted unanimously both by the Shi'ah and the Ahl alâ€‘Sunnah: [We prophets have been commanded to speak to the people in accordance with the level of their intellects.]
This tradition refers to the qualitative aspect of the description of these truths, not to their quantitative aspect, and it signifies that the Divine prophets had always brought these higher truths down to a lower plane appropriate to the understanding and grasp of their audience. The reason for this is that during the life of the world human intellects gather darkness and obscurity due to their attention towards and interest in worldly attractions and glamour and their hollow and protracted desires. They cannot perceive those truth in their original clarity and reality. Therefore, the great prophets were forced to simplify those truths and to bring them down to a lower plane, like some one trying to explain some matter to children with their ingenuous minds, who describes it to them in sensible terms which are comprehensible to children. Often by the means of the Shari `ah, of which they were defenders, the great prophets described those truth in terms that makes them appear as things that are devoid of sense and consciousness, although each of the exoteric elements of the Shari `ah, such as prayer, fasting, hajj, jihad, fulfillment of obligations towards blood relations, charities, amr bilâ€‘ma'ruf and nahy 'anilâ€‘munkar, and the rest of them possess a reality possessing life, perception, and consciousness.
The `wayfarer' is someone who, with God's help and His succour, and with the means of wayfaring and inner struggle (mujahadah), and in the shelter of the lowliness of servanthood, humbleness, pleading and supplication, removes the obfuscations and crests from the soul (nafs) and the intellect and, with a purified intellect and a clear and luminous soul purged of taints and impurities, witnesses those higher realties in this very material life and dark realm with the purity and burnish of his spirit. Often it happens that the wayfarer observes this very prayer and wudu' in their real form and sees clearly their excellence which is a thousand times superior to its physical form in respect of consciousness and perception. Hence there are traditions of the Immaculate Imams, may God's Peace and benedictions be upon them, containing very sublime and precious descriptions concerning the Imaginal forms (suwarâ€‘e mithali) of the rites of worships in the worlds of Barzakh and Resurrection and their conversing with persons. Also there is a verse in the Glorious Qur'an concerning the possession of the faculties of speech, hearing and sight by bodily members. Hence it must not be imagined that a mosque is something made up of mere bricks and mud; rather it has a reality that is living, conscious, and perceptive. Hence it is mentioned in the traditions that the Qur'an and the mosque will complain before their Lord on the dawn of Resurrection.
One of the wayfarers of the way of God was resting in his bed. As he wanted to turn from one side. to another suddenly he heard a wail from the ground. When he sought the cause for it, he perceived or was told, "It is the earth that is wailing due to separation from you!"
Now after this preliminary introduction, we may say that with perseverance in performing the pertinent acts the wayfarer must reinforce the related immaterial malakuti forms in his soul, so that his passing state (hall) rises to the plane of habit (malikah). By repeating every act the wayfarer must derive his share of spirituality and faith from that act, and until this is achieved he must not stop it. That stable malakuti aspect is attained when the wayfarer performs that act steadily and contiguously until the enduring effects of transient external acts are well established in the realm of the soul and become engraved on it, where, after their establishment, they become irremovable.
Hence the wayfarer must try to select an act that suits his capacity, and should he have no plans of continuing it and stabilizing it he should not opt for it. Because on abandonment the reality of that act becomes hostile and it departs from him resentfully carrying away with it its fruits and effects once and for all. As a result there emerge in his soul effects that are opposite to those of that act. May God be our refuge!
The meaning of its becoming inimical is that when the wayfarer abandons that act, as a reaction the reality of that action distances itself from the wayfarer, carrying away with it its characteristics and effects. And since that act possessed goodness and luminosity, as the soul loses those luminous effects, inevitably opposite effects such as darkness, gloom and evil take its place. The fact is that: [Nothing except good is to be found with Allah.]
And: [As to evil, ugliness and darkness, they derive solely from ourselves.]
Accordingly, every evil and defect and deficiency that arises derives from human beings can not be referred to God: Hence on this basis too it becomes clear that Divine graces are not exclusive or limited; rather, they are proffered from the realm of Divinity and from the station of infinite mercy to all human individuals, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and the worshippers of fire and idols. However, the qualities present ii the recipients, or their illâ€‘advised choices, cause this expansive mercy to produce delight, happiness and bliss in some people and sorrow and grief in some others.