Effect of Prayer On Heart
To prevent people from praying and reciting prayer books one day some wicked people, the followers of Kasrawi etc. collected gnosis and prayer books and set them on fire. These people did not understand what prayer was and what effect it produced on heart. They did not know that all good things in the world were due to the pious prayerers who prayed and remembered Allah. Although some people repeat their prayer simply parrot-like, yet it produces some effect, for the people who pray are better than those who do not.
A man who offers prayers, of howsoever low quality his prayers may be, is better than a man who does not offer prayers. The former is more cultured. He does not commit theft. Look at the list of the offenders and criminals. How many of them are the students of religious sciences How many mullas drink wine, commit theft or perpetrate other crimes? It is true that the smugglers include some unreal mullas and sufi looking persons, but those wicked people neither offer prayers nor do they perform any other meritorious acts.
They have assumed this disguise just to achieve their vicious ends. Among those who recite prayers and observe Islamic injunctions, there are few who have ever been charge-sheeted for any serious crime. The world order rests on the people who pray. Praying must not be done away with. It will be wrong to divert the attention of our young men from prayer on the plea that instead of prayer the recitation of the Qur'an should be popularized. What paves the way for the Qur'an must not be given up. It is a diabolic insinuation that the Qur'an should be recited and the tradition and supplications to Allah should be abandoned.
The Qur'an Without Traditions and Prayer
Those who say that they do not want supplications, would never be able to popularize the Qur'an. Their deceptive ideas are mere devilish insinuations. The young men should consider who have rendered better service to society, those who took keen interest in traditions, supplication and liturgy or those who said that the Qur'an was enough for them.
All these charitable institutions and religious endowments are the works of those who offered prayers and recited the Qur'an, not of others. All the religious schools and hospitals were built by those members of the rich nobility of the previous era who offered prayers. This system should continue. People should be encouraged to keep their attention to the good works. Besides helping in the achievement of spiritual excellence, these prayers and supplications help in the administration of the country also.
Those who attend the mosques and pray do not violate the law of the country nor do they breach the public order. This in itself is a great service to society. Society consists of individuals. Even if fifty per cent individuals in a society, being busy with prayers and supplications, did not commit crimes, it would be a happy situation! A craftsman who does his job honestly and earns his livelihood, does not commit sins.
Similarly those who commit murders and robberies, are not interested in spiritual matters. If they had been interested in them, they would not have committed such crimes. Prayers and supplications play a significant role in training society. These supplications have been taught by Allah and His Prophet. The Holy Qur'an says: Say: My Lord would not have cared for you, if you had not been calling Him. (Surah al-Furqan, 25:77)
If you read the Qur'an, you will find that Allah Himself urges people to pray to Him and says that 'He would not have cared for you if you had not been calling Him.' It appears that those who oppose supplications, do not believe even in the Qur'an. If anyone says that he does not want supplications, that means that he is neither interested in the Qur'an, nor does he believe in it. He does not know that Allah says: Call Me, I will respond to you. (Surah Ghafir, 40:60) May Allah include us among those who are keenly interested in supplications, prayer and the Qur'an.
Notes: 1 The name of a book.
Allah and His Glory
It is clear from what we have so far said about 'bismillah' that the 'ba' in it is not for causation, as some grammarians say. In fact in the matter of doings of Allah there is no question of cause and effect. The best way of expressing the relationship between the Creator and the created is that which is found in the Qur'an. At some places this relationship has been described as glorification:
'Your Lord revealed His glory' and at some others as 'manifestation'. It has been said about Allah that 'He is the First and the Last, the Explicit and the Implicit'. This relationship is different from that of cause and effect, which implies a sort of tendency that is not appropriate to Allah, and therefore it is not a proper expression of the relationship between Allah and the existing things.
For this purpose we have either to expand the meaning of causation to include glorification and manifestation or to say that the 'ba' in bismillah is not for causation and that 'with the name of Allah' means with His manifestation or with His glorification. Therefore Bismillah al-Hamdu lillah' does not mean that Allah's name is the cause and his praise is the effect.
Anyway, as far as I remember the words, sababiyyat or 'illiyat (cause, effect, causation) are not mentioned anywhere in the Qur'an and the sunnah (traditions). These words are merely philosophical terms used by the philosophers. In this sense the Qur'an and the sunnah have used the words of Khalq (creation), Zuhur (manifestation) Tajalli (glorification) etc.
There is another aspect of bismillah. We have a report about the dot under the 'ba'. I wonder whether this report is mentioned in any authentic book. Apparently it is not. Anyway, Imam Ali is reported to have said: 'I am the dot under the 'ba' of bismillah. If this report is mentioned anywhere, it may be interpreted in the following way: The 'ba' signifies absolute manifestation.
The dot signifies its first specification or determination, which lies in the state of wilayat. If this report was true, the Commander of the Faithful might have meant that as the dot determined the 'ba', similarly the state of universal 'wilayat' is the first determination of the Absolute Manifestation. The name is synonym with absolute glory. It is primarily determined by the Wilayat of the Holy Prophet, Imam Ali etc.
This fact is true even if it is not mentioned in any authentic book. The first and primary determination of absolute glory is the highest stage of existence and this highest stage of existence is the same as the stage of absolute wilayat. As a matter of fact a divine name is sometimes a symbol of the state of self.
The comprehensive name of this state of self is Allah. Sometimes a divine name is the symbol of the manifestation of some divine attribute such as beneficence, mercy etc. All these names are the reflections of the Exalted Name. Some of these names are the names of the state of self, some of the reflections of the glory of names and some of the reflections of the glory of doings. The names of the first category are called the state of uniqueness; the names of the second category are called the state of oneness and the names of the third category the state of will. All these are the terms used by the mystics. The last three verses of the Surah al-Hashr (59:22-24)108 perhaps hint at this division of the divine names:
(i) He is Allah, there is no other deity but He, the Knower of the invisible and the visible. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful.
(ii) He is Allah, there is no other deity but He, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, Peace, the Keeper of Faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller and the Superb. Glorified be Allah from all that they ascribe as partners to Him.
(iii) He is Allah the Creator, the Shaper out of naught, the Fashioner, His are the most beautiful names.
All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him and He is the Mighty, the Wise. Possibly these three verses hint at the three states of the divine names as mentioned above. The first mentions the names appropriate to the state of self. The second verse contains the names appropriate to the reflections of the glory of names.
The third verse has the names suitable to the reflection of the glory of doings. Thus there are three stages of divine glorification: the stage revealing self-glory for self, the stage of revealing glory at the stage of divine names and the stage of revealing glory at the stage of manifestation. He is the First and the Last is perhaps the negation of the existence of any other being. He is the First and the Last, the Explicit and the Implicit. This shows that it is He who is manifestation, not that manifestation is from Him, for 'He is the First and the Last, the Explicit and the Implicit.'
Glory is Not Separate From the Glorious
There are several degrees of the revealing of glory, but in no case glory is separate from the master of glory. It is an idea difficult to conceive, but once you conceive it, it is easy to believe it. It is also possible that Allah is the name of divine glory at the state of divine attributes. In this case 'ism' in bismillah will denote the revealing of overall manifestation of glory.
Even in this case it will not be difficult to apply the two possibilities mentioned by us earlier, for Allah's attributes are not separate from His self or essence. In this connection it is to be pointed out that sometimes we look at an event from the point of view as to what our perception says; sometimes from the point of view as to what our intellect says; sometimes from the point of view as to what impression our heart has formed; and sometimes we witness the event at the stage of its actual reality.
This rule applies to all spiritual matters. The farthest limit of our perception is either intellectual perception or argumentative or semi-argumentative perception. We perceive things according to our intellectual capacity. In spiritual matters the lowest degree of our perception should be that we come to understand that there is Allah and His glory. As a matter of fact whatever method of perception we use, we cannot go beyond this limit.
The utmost limit of our perception is either rational perception or argumentative and semi-argumentative perception. We perceive things according to our intellect only. As far as the questions relating to the knowledge of Allah are concerned, the main stage of knowing Him is just to understand that there is Allah and His glory. In fact whatever method of perceiving Him we employ, our perception cannot go beyond this limit.
His Being And His Glory Are the Real Truth
That is the main question. As for the nature of His glory at the various stages of His essence, His attributes and His actions, the verses we have quoted above indicate only that "He is the First and the Last and He is the Explicit and the Implicit". The real truth is only that there is no existence besides Allah. In fact it is meaningless to imagine that besides Allah there can be any existence. Sometimes we calculate according to our understanding what our perception is, what our intellect says, whether our rational perception has so firmly been established in our heart that it may be named faith, and whether we have started our spiritual journey in the right direction so that it may be called irfan or gnosis. Anyhow, it is all a matter of our perception rather than that of actualities.
The Real Truth Is Nothing But He
If we look into the question deeply, we come to the conclusion that there is nothing but Allah and that His glory is not but He himself. To illustrate this truth we cannot conceive of any example which may exactly fit in with it. The simile of shadow and the thing casting shadow is defective. The relation between Allah and His glory can best be illustrated by the example of Sea and its waves. Perhaps this is the closest similitude.
As we know, the waves of the sea are not separate from the sea itself, but still the sea is not the waves, although the waves are the sea. When the sea vibrates, the waves rise in it. At that time the sea and its waves appear to us to be separate from each other. But the waves are a temporary phenomenon. They are again merged in the sea.
In fact the waves do not exist independently. This world is also like a wave. Anyhow, even this similitude is not perfect, for no similitude can properly illustrate the relation between Allah and His creation. We talk only as we perceive. There are two aspects of this question. On the one hand there are some general conceptions like the names of Allah, the names of His attributes and His actions and some stages and stations.
These are the conceptions we can perceive. The second stage is that of adducing arguments to prove that Allah and His glory are not separate from each other. To prove this it is said that Allah is pure and absolute existence that can in no way be qualified or limited, for an existence qualified or incomplete in any way cannot be absolute. The absolute existence must be perfect, unlimited and free from all restrictions and deficiencies. The attributes of Absolute Existence must also be absolute and unspecified. Neither Allah's mercifulness is specified or limited nor His compassionateness nor His divinity.