Chapter 7: Wala’ of Control
It is the highest stage of Wilayat. All the other kinds of Wilayat besides being due to the personal purity and sanctity of the Ahl al-Bayt are either related to their kinship to the Holy Prophet or to their own intellectual and social capability. Anyhow, in both these cases, it is not more than a legal arrangement. But the Wilayat of Control implies a sort of extraordinary and God-given power and authority. Let us first see what its meaning and significance are according to those who believe in it.
The idea of innate Wilayat is related on the one hand to the hidden human capacity to attain perfection, and on the other to the bond which exists between man and Allah. The God-given supernatural Wilayat means that man by marching on the path of submission and worship gets closer and closer to Allah and can even reach a position, where his spirituality, which is a reality, gets concentrated in him. He becomes the head of the caravan of spirituality, the master of the conscience of the people, the witness to their deeds and the competent authority of his age. The world has never been without such a spiritual leader. In other words it has never been without a perfect man.
In this sense Wilayat is different from Prophethood (Risalat), Caliphate (Khilafat), Executorship (Wisayat) and Imamate (Imamat) in the sense of authority in religious matters. Its non-identity with Prophethood, Caliphate and the factual non-identity of Wilayat with Prophethood, Caliphate and Executorship does not mean that a Prophet, his executor or successor is not a Waly. It means only that the nature of Prophethood and similarly that of Caliphate and Executorship is different from that of Wilayat. Otherwise all great Prophets, especially the last one of them, were holders of Divine Wilayat in full measure.
When we say that the non-identity of Wilayat with Imamate is only conceptual, we mean that both the terms signify the same position, though from different points of view. In Islamic terminology the word "Imamate" has also been used frequently in the sense of this spiritual Wilayat. In its wider sense Imamate means leadership. A religious authority, a political or social leader and a spiritual guide are all called Imams.
From the Shi'ah point of view there are three aspects of Wilayat and in respect of each of them the word "Imamate" has been used.
Its first aspect is political. The question is as to who was the most competent and eligible person to succeed the Prophet and to be the political and social leader of the Muslim ummah. The Shi'ah believe that Imam Ali was designated by Allah to this position. This question at present has only doctrinal and historical value, and not practical.
The second point is as to who are the authorities to whom the questions of religious law may be referred after the Holy Prophet; through what source do those authorities acquire their knowledge; and whether they are liable to err in giving their verdicts. As we know, the Shi'ah believe that all their Imams are infallible and this belief has a doctrinal as well as a practical value.
The third aspect is ideological. According to the Shi'ah belief in every age there has been a perfect man having a supernatural influence over the world and a sort of control on the hearts and the souls of men and on this account he is called Hujjat. The Qur'anic verse "The Prophet has more authority over the believers than that which they have over their selves", is supposed to be referring to this sense of Wilayat as well.
Wilayat of Control or supernatural power does not mean, as some ignorant persons believe, that any human being can acquire the power of running the affairs of the universe and carrying out the functions of creating, sustaining, giving life and causing death on behalf of Allah.
Allah has organized the order of the universe on the basis of a system of cause and effect. Though the beings called angels have been described as "governors of the events" (al-Nazi'at, 79:5) and "distributors of the affairs" (al-Zariyat, 51:4), this aspect is not in any way inconsistent with the principle of the Unity of Allah and His having no associate or partner as Creator and true Owner. No one is Allah's Waly in the sense of being His helper, assistant or even His tool. The Qur'an says:
"He has no partner in the Sovereignty nor has He any protecting friend because of weakness. Magnify Him with all magnifcence". (Surah Bani Israel, 17:111).
The relationship of the Creator and the created is only that of creation, sustenance and non-entity. The Holy Qur'an describes Allah as fully Independent. But while it says, for example;
"Allah takes the souls (of men) at the time of their death". (al-Zumar 39:42),
it also says:
"Say: The angel of death is given charge of causing you to die; then to your Lord you will be returned". (al-Sajdah 41: 11).
Similarly while it says:
"Surely my Lord is the Protector of all things". (Surah Hud, 11: 57);
it also says:
"He sends protectors to watch over you until death approaches you. Then Our angelic messengers will, without fail, take away your souls". (al-An'am 6:61).
In this verse the angels have been described both as protectors and the extractors of souls.
Hence from the monotheistic point of view the existence of any medium is not objectionable, nor is there any harm in ascribing an arrangement to someone who carries out the Will of Allah with His permission.
Anyhow, firstly Islamic decorum requires us not to ascribe creation, sustenance, giving life and causing death, to anyone else but to concentrate our attention on the real source running the universe. The mediums or angels are only Allah's creation and a manifestation of His supreme power and wisdom. And secondly to run the affairs of the universe, Allah has devised a unique system in which angels are employed as mediums.
Man occasionally can attain a position higher than that of the angels as a result of his evolutionary advancement but he cannot replace any of them as a medium. Revelation always comes through an angel, and it is an angel who is always detailed to extract the soul of everybody.
We cannot determine exactly the limits of the Wilayat of Control and supernatural power of a perfect or virtually perfect man. On the whole the Qur'anic and other religious texts indicate that man can definitely reach a position where he dominates the world. But what is the exact nature of this domination and whether it has any limits or not is besides our scope.
Another point worth mentioning is that the Wilayat of Control is attained only by him who is absolutely free from the control of his passions and evil desires. It is not bestowed on any arrogant self-seeker.
A man who is swayed by his personal whims and desires is not fit for such a miraculous position. The person who holds this Wilayat is so pure that, his will, unlike our will, emanates from an inner motivation and a Divine signal. What the nature of this signal is and how he receives it is not known to us. Such persons are sometimes guided by Divine light but occasionally they appear to be unaware of the most ordinary things .
As for the Qur'anic verse,
"Muhammad, say, I have no control over my benefits or sufferings without the Will of Allah". (al-A'raf, 7: 188)
it is evident that it wants the Prophet to say that all favourable and unfavourable circumstances are in reality controlled by Allah. Otherwise it cannot be imagined that while other people are masters of their gains and losses within certain limits, the Prophet is not.
We may mention here three points as a prelude to the fuller discussion of the Wilayat of supernatural power. It is to be remembered that it is a subject which is rarely discussed, but as a number of people have shown interest in it, we propose to dwell on it at some length.
We admit that it is somewhat difficult to acknowledge Wilayat in this sense. Our liberal minded people are not happy with such questions. They often ask as to the necessity of discussing the question whether the Prophet and the Imams have or have not the supernatural power of domination and control when the Muslims have many other more urgent problems to face. Some of them give a religious colour to their rejection of such a power and say that to believe in this sort of domination amounts to giving the status of demi-gods to the human beings, and hence it is repugnant to the basic principle of the Unity of Allah, which is a cardinal tenet of Islam.
The fact is that we are no body to judge the question as to what is consistent and what is not consistent with the doctrine of Divine Unity. The common people have no idea of the elaborate standards which have been laid down by Islam and the Holy Qur'an in this respect. Similarly the sole criterion of the importance of a question is not its popularity at any particular time. It is wrong to assume that only that should be required the need of which is generally felt.
The importance which the Holy Qur'an attaches to this point should never be overlooked. The Wilayat of supernatural power and control is related to the dignity and capability of man. The Qur'an gives much importance to human capability and the extraordinary aspect of man's creation.
For the present it is enough to dwell on this point briefly and to make clear the Qur'anic concept of Wilayat.
Sometimes such questions appear to be difficult to comprehend, but it is better to admit our own inadequacy rather than deny the whole idea.
There is no doubt that Wilayat in its fourth sense is a mystic subject, but that does not mean that we should reject it off-hand. From Shi'ah point of view it is an Islamic question also. Shiaiism is a doctrine, while mysticism, irrespective of all the myths attached to it, is a system. They both meet at the point of Wilayat. If it is necessary to believe that either of them must have borrowed the idea from the other, all historical indications point out that it is mysticism which has acquired it from Shi'aism and not vice versa. Here we mention the basis of the idea briefly.
The most important question which should be considered in this connection is that of nearness or seeking nearness to Allah. As we know, the ultimate aim of all religious acts in Islam and all other heavenly religions is to secure this objective.
What Nearness to Allah Means
Our familiarity with the popular conception of the words as we use them in our social life often misleads us. We tend to strip the Islamic terms of their real connotation and take them as if they were conveying their primary or popular meaning.
We often use the words, "nearness" and "near" in their primary sense of physical proximity. For example we say: "There is a spring near that hill; or say, I went near that hill". In these cases we mean actual nearness in space and shortness of distance. But when we say that such and such person is near to the heart of such and such man, we mean that the former is the favourite of the latter. In this case the word "near" has been used figuratively, as obviously the question of physical distance is not involved. The bond of love and affection has been expressed as nearness.
Now what is the nature of nearness or proximity to Allah? Do the people, consequent upon their obedience, worship, and earnestness, actually ascend towards Allah and get closer to him? Does the distance between them and Allah continue to become shorter till it disappears, and in the words of the Holy Qur'an, "they meet their Lord?"
If these expressions are figurative, what does getting closer to Allah mean? Evidently distance has no meaning in relation to Allah. He is neither near nor far.
To get closer to Allah means to earn His pleasure. Allah is pleased with a person and favours him with His grace and kindness.
Here another question arises. What does pleasure of Allah mean? Allah is not subject to emotions and changes of temperament. It is not possible that He should be displeased with somebody and then should get pleased; or that He should be pleased with a person and then should get displeased. The answer is that the expression of pleasure is also figurative. What is meant by pleasure is Divine blessing and favour bestowed on those who obey Allah and worship Him.
Again what is the nature of Divine blessing and favour? On this point the views differ. According to some people blessing includes both material and physical bounties such as paradisaical gardens, palaces and houries, and conceptual and spiritual such as the knowledge and the pleasure which it gives.
Some others deny the conceptual kind of blessings, and confine Divine favour to the physical pleasure of paradisiacal gardens, palaces and houries. What they say amounts to the assertion that proximity to Allah means nothing more than that the person favoured by Him gets more physical pleasure in Paradise than theirs.
This means that according to those who deny the real proximity, obedience and worship change neither the relationship of Allah to man (this is admitted by the upholders of real proximity also) nor that of man to Allah. According to their view in this respect the foremost personality of the human world, viz. the Holy Prophet and the most wicked persons like the Pharaoh and Abu Jahl stand on the same footing.
In fact this erroneous notion is due to a particular material outlook about Allah and man, especially about man. Those who hold that man is a mere piece of clay, naturally do not acknowledge the principle
"When I have made him and breathed in him of My Spirit". (al-Hijr, 15: 29)
As they interpret this verse allegorically, they have no alternative but
to denty real proximity.
But is there any compelling reason to regard man so insignificant and interpret everything allegorically? Allah is absolute perfection. He is limitless. At the same time the essence of existence is perfection. Every kind of perfection such as knowledge, power, life, will, mercy, goodness etc. returns to the existence which is a genuine reality.
Allah is pure existence and perfection and all existing things, in proportion to the intensity and strength of their existence and perfection, are close to Him. Naturally the angels are closer to him than the minerals and the plants. Among the angels some are closer than others, and for that reason they command other angels and have authority over them. This difference is related to divergence in their creation. Terminologically it may be called the difference of "descending arc".
All existing things, especially man, are returned to Allah. The Holy Qur'an says
"Surely we are Allah's and to Him we shall return". (al-Baqarah, 2:156)
As man occupies a high stage of existence, his return should be in the form of obeying the commands of Allah willingly and voluntarily. By marching on the path of virtue and obedience to Allah, he can advance forward from the animal stage to a position above that of angels. His ascension or promotion is neither honorary nor administrative, nor contractual, like the appointment of an ordinary member of the Assembly to the post of a minister or the upgrading of an ordinary member of a party to its leader— strengthening and intensification of existence and perfection. It means increase in knowledge, power, life, will and determination. It means the widening of the circle of influence and control. To get near to Allah means to traverse the stages of existence.
It is impossible that a man as a result of his obedience and submission should not reach the position of the angels. He may even go further. The Holy Qur'an affirming the position of man, says
"We said to the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam. They all fell prostrate save Iblis". (al-Baqarah, 2: 34)
It may be said that he who denies this position of man is but Iblis (Satan).
Exoteric and Esoteric Life
Man inside his exoteric animal life has an esoteric life also. The esoteric life, the capability of which is hidden in every individual, emanates from the maturity and perfection of his deeds and aims. His well-being and distress are related to his esoteric life which depends on his intention and the goal to which he is advancing.
We are mostly familiar with those aspects of the Islamic teachings which are concerned with the individual and social life of this world. There is no doubt that the teachings of Islam are repleted with philosophy of life in every field. Islam does not look down upon the problems of life. From the Islamic point of view no esoterism bereft of life does exist. As soul once separated from body has no longer anything to do with this world; similarly, exoterism without life is not a thing of this world. It is absurd to talk of esoterism minus life in this world.
But that should not be construed to mean that the philosophy of the Islamic teachings is confined to the solution of the problems of life only. The teachings of Islam are a means of traversing the path of submission to Allah, marching forward towards attaining proximity to Him, and thus acquiring completion of existence.
Man can make an evolutionary march beyond the limits of body, matter, and individual and social life. Such a march emanates from a series of spiritual stations. Man treads on this path practically by means of his earnestness and occasionally in this world or in the other world when the curtains are lifted he witnesses the stages of proximity ultimately leading to Wilayat which he has crossed.
Prophethood and Wilayat
The renowned philosopher and exegete of our age Allamah Tabatabai says "A part of the teachings of Islam constitutes social regulations which apparently are the product of social thinking. Their relation to the felicity and distress of the next world, or in religious terms, to the rewards of Paradise and the punishments of Hell, is due to certain phenomena which come into being and grow imperceptibly as one acts upon or contravenes these regulations.
After a person is shifted to the life of the next world and the curtain of ego is torn asunder, this relationship is unveiled and becomes manifest to him. Hidden under the wrappings of social life, passed strictly in accordance with the religious teachings, there exists a living reality—an esoteric life from which the eternal blessings of the next world originate and they are, in other words, its manifestation.
This is a reality which is called Wilayat. Prophethood is a reality which receives Divine commands and injunctions in regard to life and conveys them to the people, and Wilayat is a reality, which comes into being as a result of acting upon the Divine commands received through Prophethood".
Imam as a Holder of Wilayat
Dealing with the proof of Wilayat and its holder, the Imam, and the fact that the world has never been without a holder of Wilayat, i.e. a perfect man, Allamah Tabatabai says "'There is no doubt about the existence of a path of Wilayat by treading on which man traverses the stages of esoteric perfection and reaches the stage of proximity to Allah. The existence of the outer religious trappings, without an inner reality, is unimaginable. The creative ability or source which has provided for religious teachings of practical, ethical and social nature and has preached them, must have provided for the inner reality also, which is the soul of the outer religious phenomena.
The arguments, which prove the existence of Prophethood and the continuity of the religious laws, also prove the existence and continuity of the system of Wilayat. How can it be imagined that the tenets and laws should have a real existence, but the inner reality should not exist or the contact of the human world with it should be severed? The chief holder of Wilayat, who maintains this contact, has been called Imam by the Qur'an, as is borne out by this verse.
"When his Lord tested Ibrahim with certain commands and he fulplled them. He said: Surely I am appointing you an Imam of man" (al-Baqarah, 2: 124)
The Imam is a person who is selected by Allah to be the leader of the path of Wilayat. It is he who holds the reins of esoteric Wilayat in his hands. He is the centre of the rays of Wilayat which reflect on the hearts of the people".
In the Usul al-Kafi there is a report by Abu Khalid Kabuli, who narrates that he asked Imam al-Baqir about the Qur'anic verse,
"So believe in Allah, His Messenger and the light which We have sent". (al-Taghabun, 64:8).
The Imam explaining the verse said: "O Abu Khalid! I swear by Allah that the light of the Imam shines more brilliantly in the hearts of the believers than the sun at day".
What he meant was that it was wrong to confine the aim of the religious teachings to the good results which might be obtained in the worldly life, and to interpret proximity to Allah, which is the direct result of good deeds, allegorically to mean attaining favour of Allah in the same sense as the favour of those in power and authority is gained in this world.
Such an interpretation ignores the effective role which proximity to Allah plays in spiritual life. Proximity to Allah raises man up on a higher plane of existence. Those who traverse the highest stages of proximity to Allah and really get closer to the centre of existence, naturally dominate the world. It is they who control the souls and the conscience of others and are witnesses to their deeds.
Basically every existing thing that advances on the way to its perfection, traverses some stages towards proximity to Allah. Man is also one of the existing things. His perfection is not confined merely to what is called nowadays civilization i.e. the development of a series of sciences, arts and rules of personal and social behaviour useful in the present life. Man has another dimension also, for which he has to purify his soul and secure contact with Allah.
From Subservience to Mastership
There is a hadith which says that submission to Allah is a jewel, the essence of which is mastership, i.e. power. Man has always been looking for a way to control himself and the universe.
At present we are not concerned with the methods he chose for this purpose and whether he succeeded in his efforts or not. We know there is a wonderful way to achieve this object. When man chooses that, he does not aim at gaining power and dominating the world. In this case his aim is just the opposite. He aims at humility and self-annihilation. This wonderful way is that of subservience to Allah. He who submits to Allah, gets everything, though attaches no importance to anything.
Mastership or in other words the power man gains as a result of his earnestness, total submission and complete subservience to Allah has several stages:
The first stage is very inspiring. It gives him control over himself. In other words the minimum effect of the acceptance of good deeds by Allah is that they produce a penetrating and clear insight into self.
The Holy Qur'an says:
"Believers, if you fear Allah, He will make for you a differentiator (between right and wrong)" (al-Anfal, 8: 29).
Again it says:
"Those who struggle for Our cause, We will show them Our ways" (al-Ankabut 29:69)
Secondly man gains control over his passions and animal propensities and becomes master of himself. The Qur'an says regarding prayer:
"Surely, prayer restrains one away from indecency and evil ". (al-Ankabut, 29: 45)
It says about fasting
"Believers! fasting has been enjoined on you as it was enjoined on those who were before you, so that you may become pious" (al-Baqarah, 2:183)
Regarding both of them it says:
"Believers! Help yourselves (in your affairs) through patience (fast) and prayer". (al-Baqarah, 2:153)
At this stage of submission to Allah what man gets is a special insight and power to control his passions. In other words the first outcome of submission is self-discipline and control of evil desires.
The second stage is that of the control of the faculty of imagination. It is through this faculty that our mind conceives ideas and every moment shifts our attention from one subject to another.
This faculty is not under our control. In contrast it dominates us. that is why however hard we try, we cannot keep our attention concentrated on any one particular subject for example, even with our best efforts we cannot keep our thoughts concentrated during prayers. The Holy Prophet illustrated this fact with a charming example. He compared heart which is influenced by the faculty of imagination to a feather hung to a tree in the desert and being turned every moment topsy-turvy by the wind.1
In the course of another hadith the Prophet has said that the heart of man is subject to more commotion than a boiling kettle.2
Now the question is, Has man no option but to be a subject to his thoughts willy-nilly and to be swayed away by this mysterious power which turns him into a bird ever flying from one branch of a tree to another; or is the inability to resist this power a sign of immaturity and underdevelopment, and are those whose spiritual power is adequately developed, capable of rolling over this faculty of theirs?
The second alternative is correct. It is a duty of man to keep his thoughts under control. Otherwise the diabolic power of this faculty will nullify his capabilities and will impede his advancement on the path of proximity to Allah.
The celebrated mystic poet, Mowlawi points out: "If man is all the time engrossed in the ideas of his personal comforts and discomforts and profit and loss, he is prone to lose the serenity of his soul and is not likely to soar to the higher regions of heaven".
The Holy Prophet has said: "My eyes sleep, but my heart keeps awake". Commenting on this saying of the Prophet, Mowlawi says that the heart of the Prophet was always awake because he was the master of his thoughts. He was able to control them and was never over-powered by them.
At this second stage those who choose the path of submission to Allah feel that by keeping their faculty of imagination under control their soul is free to soar higher and higher without any check or hindrance.
Imam Ali used to be so engrossed in his prayers that once an arrow which had struck him was extracted from his foot while he was offering his prayer and he did not feel it. During this operation his attention could not be diverted in the least.
Similarly a young child of Imam Zayn al-Abidin fell down from a height and had a fracture in his hand. The hue and cry that followed the accident could not disturb the Imam who was offering his prayers. A bone-setter was called. He set the bone. When after the prayers the Imam saw the bandaged hand of the child, he was surprised and inquired about the matter. All the hustle and bustle and the hue and cry had not distracted the attention of the Imam who was absorbed in his prayers.
Leaving aside the personalities of this stature, even among their followers we have seen with our own eyes persons who get so absorbed while offering their prayers that they totally become inattentive to everything around them. Their attention is only towards Allah. The late Ali Agha Shirazi, an eminent scholar, was one of such persons.
To achieve this success nothing is more useful than incessant worship, the basis of which is attention to Allah. The ascetics adopt their own methods. They renounce life, retire in solitude and subject their body to torture. But Islam ensures the desired result without resorting to such unhealthy acts. Full attention to Allah and remembering that one is standing before the Lord of lords, the Creator, paves the way for mental concentration.
It will not be out of place to quote here Abu Ali ibn Sina (Avicenna), the most outstanding philosopher of Islam. This great scholar after dealing with popular worship which is practised in expectation of reward only which has little value, takes up in his book, Isharat, the worship accompanied by cognition. He says: "To the gnostics worship is an exercise of the faculties of thinking and imagination with a view to divert them from material things to Divine conceptions. With constant practice these faculties get in harmony with the real human instinct of devotion to Allah, and they do not resist when the inner soul of man wants to attain illumination".
At the third stage the soul becomes so vigorous and strong that it can do a number of things without the help of body, though body needs soul in all cases.
Normally soul and body are inter-dependent. Body depends on soul for its life and very existence, and without soul it is soon disintegrated. Similarly soul depends on body for all its activities and can do nothing without it. Only in very exceptional cases soul can dispense with body. Sometimes it can do so just for a few moments and sometimes recurrently or even permanently. This phenomenon is known as "disembodiment".
The famous illuminant sufi-theosophist Suhrawardi has said "We do not consider a person to be a theosophist unless he can disembody himself". Mir Damad says "We do not regard a person as a theosophist unless he has such a practice that he can disembody himself at will.
Anyhow, the experts say that the 'disembodiment' is not a proof of attaining perfection.
At the fourth stage one's body becomes absolutely at his beck and call and can perform marvellous things as and when desired by him. Anyhow, this is a point which requires lengthy discussion. Imam al-Sadiq said "Body does not show inability to do what will wants".
The fifth is the highest stage. At this stage even external nature becomes subject to the will of man and obeys him. The miracles wrought by the Prophets and saints come under this category.
Though the issue of miracles requires extensive discussion, briefly it may be said that no Muslim who believes in the Holy Qur'an can deny them. From the Islamic point of view they present no problem. At present we propose to look at the issue of miracles from the viewpoint of Wilayat of Control only. Of course our discussion is directed to those who believe in the Holy Qur'an and admit the occurrence of the miracles.
What we want to stress upon is that a miracle is nothing but a manifestation of the Wilayat of Control and supernatural power. Apart from considering the Holy Qur'an, which, besides being a miracle, is the word of Allah, not of the Prophet; and as such has an exceptional position. A miracle is wrought by a Prophet or a saint because he is granted a sort of special power. He can do with the universe what he likes, but only with the permission and consent of Allah. He can convert a rod into a serpent, can cure those who are born blind and can even bring a dead person to life. This extraordinary power he gets by treading in the path of proximity to Allah and getting closer to the centre of existence and it is nothing else than the Wilayat of Control.
Some people are under the impression that a miracle is effected direct by Allah, and the Prophets and the saints have no hand in its performance, for it is beyond human power to change the laws of nature. The Prophets and the saints work only as showmen. According to this view, miracles are wrought direct by Allah without any human participation.
Anyhow, this view is not correct. Not only that Allah would not allow a natural phenomenon to take place direct outside the order set up by Him, but this conception is also contrary to the Qur'anic text. The Qur'an has expressly ascribed the working of miracles to the Prophets though, of course with the permission of Allah.
It may be remembered that permission of Allah does not mean lifting any moral or social ban by means of words or signs. In this case His permission is the bestowal of that perfection which produces a Supernatural power. He can take away that power if He does not want the miracle to be effected. The Holy Qur'an says;
"A prophet is not supposed to show a miracle without the permission of Allah". (al-Mo'min, 40:78).
In this verse the Prophets have been described as the actual workers of the miracles. The phrase, "Without the permission of Allah" has been added to obviate any misunderstanding that the Prophets can take any miraculous action independently. Everyone should know that, ''There is no might or power save with Allah ".
Anyhow, we admit that Allah is the ultimate source of every kind of power big or small, and every existing thing is a manifestation of His Will. The Prophets depend on Allah in all what they do; and always seek help from Him.
In the Surah al-Naml, the Holy Qur'an narrates the story of Prophet Sulayman and the Queen of Saba. At the invitation of Sulayman, the Queen sets out to call on him. Sulayman, wishes that her throne is brought to him before she arrives. Some of his courtiers volunteer, but Sulayman does not accept their offer. At last the one having knowledge of the Book said, "I can bring it in the twinkling of an eye".
Thus he ascribed the power and ability to himself. At the same time the Holy Qur'an describes him as having knowledge of the Book. This means that he performed the supernatural task with the help of the knowledge till then unknown to the human beings which he had acquired direct from the ''Protected Tablet" (al-Lawh al-Mahfuz)because of his proximity to Allah.
Again the Holy Qur'an says in respect of the same Prophet
"We made the winds subservient to him. They moved softly at his command in whichever direction he intended. We made the devils obey him. They included builders, divers and others bound in chains. (We said): This is Our gift. (Therefore you may bestow or withhold it without reckoning". (Sad, 38: 36—39).
The verses describing the miracles of Prophet Isa also support this stand, but we avoid to quote them for lack of space.
What we intend to emphasize is that nobody who believes in the Holy Qur'an, can deny the Wilayat of Control. But if somebody wants to judge this issue purely on scientific or philosophical standard, it would be off the point. At present we want to look at the issue from the Qur'anic angle only.
In the end we would like to further stress upon a point to which we referred in the beginning. All the stages of mastership mentioned above are the outcome of proximity to Allah, which is a factual reality and not a figurative or allegorical expression. A well-known hadith, Hadith al-Qudsi (a saying of the Prophet reproducing what Allah said) which is reported both by the Shi'ah and the Sunni sources, has expressed this fact beautifully.
Imam al-Sadiq reports that the Holy Prophet said: "Allah says The best means of seeking proximity to Me is the performance of what I have enjoined on My slaves. If somebody performs the super-numeraries also, I love him. When I love a person I become his eyes with which he sees, his ears with which he hears, his tongue with which he speaks and his hands with which he holds. If he calls Me, I respond to him. If he asks Me for a thing I give it to him'' 3
This hadith clearly shows that devotion brings man close to Allah. As he gets closer to Him, he is loved and favoured by Him. Then he begins to see, hear and speak with Divine power. His prayer is responded to and his wishes are granted.
The fact is that the distinctive feature of Shi'aism is its special outlook on man. It believes, as we have stated earlier, that man has marvellous capabilities and that the world has never been without a perfect man whose capabilities are fully developed. It also believes that man can secure his rightful position only by treading in the path of submission and subservience to Allah under the leadership of a perfect man, a Waly and leader appointed by Him. That is why the leaders (awliya) of Shi'aism say:
The tenets which constitute the basis of Islam are five Salat (prayer), Saum (fast), Zakat (religious tax), Hajj (pilgrimage), and Wilayat and Islam has laid the greatest stress on Wilayat.4