Some of the enlightened gnostics have recommended the following instructions for a wayfarer before starting his spiritual journey:
First: Before everything else, a devotee must purify his self from sins and moral abjectnesses by means of repentance. In the beginning with the intention of repentance take a bath and during bathing, think about your past sins and esoteric contamination and then with a fleeling of shame, present your self before the Most Merciful and Most Compassionate Lord saying: Oh Lord! I have repented and returned to you. I have taken a firm decision never to sin again. As I cleaned my body with water, I have also cleaned my heart from sins and moral abjectnwses.
Second: Consider yourself all the time under the presence of Almighty God. Try your best to remember God in all circumstances and if once in a while negligence overtakes you, try to return to the previous state immediately.
Third: you must be strict in guarding your self against contamination with sins. During a period of twenty-four hours, you must fix a time for self-scrutiny and with extreme accuracy, you must review your daily deeds and seriously remonstrate your self.
Fourth: you must remain silent and speak whenever it is very necessary.
Fifth: you must eat moderately to meet your physical needs and strictly avoid overeating and becoming slave of belly.
Sixth: you must maintain ablution all the times; whenever you terminate ablution, you must perform it again. The Holy Prophet (a.s) said that Almighty God says:
مَنْ أحْدَثَ وَلَم يَتَوضّأْ فَقَد جَفاني، وَمَن أحْدَثَ وَتَوَضّأَ وَلَم يُصَلِّ رَكْعَتَيْنِ فَقَد جَفاني، وَمَنْ أحْدَثَ وَتَوَضّأَ وَصَلّى رَكْعَتَينِ وَدَعانِي وَلَم أُجِبْهُ فِي ما سَأَلَنِي مِن أمْرِ دِينِهِ وَدُنياهُ فَقَدْ جَفَوتُهُ؛ وَلَسْتُ بِرَبٍّ جافٍ.
“Whoever after termination of ablution does not perform it again has been unfaithful to me; whoever after performance of ablution does not offer two units of prayer has done oppression; and whoever after performance of ablution offers prayer and requests for his worldly and spiritual needs but I do not grant them I will have oppressed him. I am not an oppressing God.” (Wasa’il al-Shi`ah, vol. 1, pp. 268)
Seventh: you must fix a time during the twenty-four hours preferably during night before dawn for practicing concentration and presence of heart by sitting alone in an isolated place, lowering your head upon knees, concentrating all the senses towards face and strictly avoiding entry of all external thoughts and memories. You must remain in this state for a while perhaps this action will result in some spiritual contemplation.
Eight: the invocation Ya hayyu ya qayyumu ya man la ilaha illa anta (O Alive! O Eternal! O there is no diety save Thee) should be recited continuously by tongue together with heart presence. In other words, whatever is being chanted by tongue is also comprehended by the heart.
Ninth: During a period of twenty four hours, one must recite a prolonged prostration with concentration and presence of heart in proportion to one’s strength. Beside, one must repeat the invocation La ilaha illa anta subhanaka inni kuntu mina’¨alimin (There is no God save Thee. Be Thou Glorified! Lo! I have been a wrong-doer). The prolongation of prostration has been proved as very effective producing good spiritual revelations. Some of the devoted wayfarers are reported to have repeated this invocation as much as four thousand times during a single prolonged prostration.
Tenth: fix a certain time during twenty four hours and with presence of heart, repeat the invocation ya ghaniyyu ya mughni (O The Free from needs, O the Granter of our needs.)
Eleventh: Recite the Holy Qur’an with presence of mind daily, preferably in the standing position and ponder upon the meanings of its verses.
Twelfth: Wake up a little before the adhan for the Morning Prayer. After performing required ablutions, offer the Night Prayer (Salat al-Layl) and after finishing, recite the following verses with heart presence, which is useful for attaining certainty and negation of external thoughts.
إِنَّ رَبَّكُمْ اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُ حَثِيثًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُومَ مُسَخَّرَاتٍ بِأَمْرِهِ أَلَا لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالْأَمْرُ تَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ. ادْعُوا رَبَّكُمْ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ. وَلَا تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ بَعْدَ إِصْلَاحِهَا وَادْعُوهُ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا إِنَّ رَحْمَةَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ مِنْ الْمُحْسِنِينَ.
Lo! your Lord is Allah Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days, then mounted He the Throne. He covereth the night with the day, which is in haste to follow it, and hath made the sun and the moon and the stars subservient by His command. His verily is all creation and commandment. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Worlds (O mankind!) Call upon your Lord humbly and in secret. Lo! He loveth not aggressors Work not confusion in the earth after the fair ordering (thereof). and call on Him in fear and hope. Lo! the mercy of Allah is nigh unto the good. 7:54-56” (Al-Kafi, vol. 1, pp. 344)
In order to achieve the desired results, the abovementioned instructions should be practiced for a period of forty days. It is possible that the wayfarer succeeds in receiving God’s attention and being blessed with spiritual contemplation; but if after passing forty days one is not fortunate enough to receive such blessings and instead becoming disappointed, the program should be repeated again and again until the desired results are accomplished. Without giving up seriousness, action and struggle, the wayfarer should remain seriously committed towards his spiritual migration and seek favor from the Most Merciful Lord. Whenever he develops the required decency and competency to receive God’s special blessing, it will be bestowed upon him. In case a wayfarer in the beginning does not have the strength to perform all of the abovementioned guidelines, he may begin with few gradually adding others. But most important among these deeds are pondering, self‑control, heart presence and attention to Almighty God. It is crucial that a wayfarer should thoroughly negate all sort of external thoughts and pay absolute attention to Almighty God, which is a difficult task indeed. The negation of other than God can be achieved gradually in three steps:
First: During first stage and while reciting invocation, try your best to concentrate all your thoughts on the invocation while strictly preventing the entries of all external thoughts.
Second: During this stage, recite invocation exactly like the first stage with the exception that while reciting pay complete attention to its meanings and contents in a manner making the mind clearly aware of it. At the same time, make efforts to strictly prevent the attack of all sorts of external thoughts and memories. This program should be exercised until one is able to prevent the attacks of all external thoughts during the entire period of invocation while being attentive to their meanings and contents.
Third: During this stage, try your best to memorize the meanings of invocation inside the heart and since it has accepted their meanings and believed in them, order the tongue to recite them. In this case, the tongue actually follows the heart.
Fourth: At this stage, try your best to negate all the meanings, contents, interpretations and even imaginations of invocations from the heart making it ready for receiving Divine blessings and illuminations. Try to pay absolute attention to Almighty God with your entire existence cleansing your heart thoroughly from all sorts of external existence and opening its gate for the entrance of God’s Celestial Light. At this stage, it is quite possible to succeed in receiving God’s special attention, utilize His grace and illuminations and submerge with His attraction to ascend higher and higher upon the ladder of perfection in the spiritual migration towards Almighty God.
At this station of the gnostic journey, the wayfarer becomes so much absorbed that he sees nothing except Almighty God forgetting his own self and actions. It is better for me to leave the description of these most sublime realities for the God’s favorite saints who had seen the end of the journey and tasted the most delicious flavor of the stages of desire, affection and countenance.
Instructions of Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali
Nawf narrated the following:
As I saw Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) passing with speed, I asked him, “O my master! Where are you heading for?” “Nawf! Leave me alone, my desire is forcing me towards my Beloved,” replied the Imam. “O my Master! What is your desire?” I asked. “One who is supposed to know about it already knows and there is no need to describe it to anybody else. Decency demands that a servant of God should not include others (as partner) as far as the blessings and wants are concerned,” replied the Imam. “O Amir al-Mu’minin! I am afraid of being dominated by selfish whims and greed in my worldly affairs,” I said. “Why are you negligent towards the Savior of the fearful ones and the Protector of the pious ones?” said the Imam. “Introduce Him to me,” I requested. “He is Almighty God the Magnanimous through Whose special benevolence your wishes are granted. Pay attention to Him with full strength and do not allow Satanic whispers to enter inside your heart, and if you find it difficult, consider me as your guarantor. Return to God and pay absolute attention to Him. God the Glorious has said, ‘I swear to My Majesty and Splendor that whoever puts his hope in one other than Me, I will cut off his hope, dress him the robe of disgrace and wretchedness, deprive him of My Nearness, cut off communication with him and hide his memory. Woe to him who takes shelter in other than Me during difficulties while the solution of difficulties rests with Me. Does he hope in others while I am Living and Eternal? Does he go to the homes of human beings for solution of his problems while the gates of their houses are closed? Does he leave the door of My house while its gate is always open? Was there anyone who trusted Me but was betrayed? The hopes of My servants are tied to Me and I take care of their hopes. I have filled the sky with those who never get fired of My praise and ordered the angels never to close the door between Me and My servants. Does he who faces the problem not know that no one can solve it except with My permission? Why does the servant not approach Me for his needs while I had already blessed him with favors without his being asked for them? Why does he not ask Me instead of asking others? Does he imagine that in the beginning I bestow My favors upon the servant and now deprive him after his request? Am I so miser that My servants regard Me as miserly? Do the world and the Hereafter not belong to Me? Are the mercy and benevolence not My characteristics? Do the blessings and favors not rest in My hand? Do all the desires not end with Me? Who has the power to terminate them? I swear by My Majesty and Splendor that if all the needs of all of the world’s habitants are stormed up and if I bestow upon them according to their wants, they are not equivalent even to the weight of a tiny particle decreased from My Kingdom. How can whatever is bestowed by Me be susceptible to loss or reduction? How destitute and wretched he who is hopeless of My Blessings is! How helpless he who disobeys me, indulges into forbidden deeds and disregards My limits and transgressesis is!’ Having narrated this, Amir al-Mu’minin said, “O Nawf! Recite the following prayer:
إلَهي إنْ حَمَدتُكَ فَبِمَواهِبِكَ، وإنْ مَجَّدتُكَ فَبِمُرادِكَ، وإنْ قَدَّسْتُكَ فَبِقُوّتِكَ، وإنْ هَلَّلْتُكَ فَبِقُدرَتِكَ، وإنْ نَظَرتُ فإلى رَحْمَتِكَ، وَإنْ عَضَضْتُ فَعَلى نِعْمَتِكَ.
O Lord!If I adore You, it is because of Your Mercy and Compassion; if I Glorify You, it is because of Your commandments; if I sanctify and attribute inviolability to You, it is because of Your energy; if I chant the world of Monotheism with my tongue, it is because of Your Power; If I raise my eyes, I see Your Blessings all over; if I practice thriftiness, it is to practive Your Bounties.
إلَهي إنّهُ مَن لَم يَشغَلْهُ الوُلوعُ بِذِكْرِكَ وَلَم يَزوِهِ السَّفَرُ بِقُربِكَ كانَتْ حَياتُهُ عَلَيهِ مِيتَةً وَميتَتُهُ عَلَيهِ حَسرَةً. إلَهي تَناهَتْ أبْصارُ النّاظِرينَ إلَيكَ بِسَرائِرِ القُلوبِ، وَطَالَعت أصْغى السّامِعِينَ لكَ نَجِيّاتُ الصُّدورِ فَلَم يَلْقَ أبْصارُهُم رَدَّ دونَ ما يُريدُونَ.
O Lord! The life of him who is not engaged in Your invocation or is not the target of Your grace of journeying towards Your countenance is actually as same as death and his death is regret for him. O Lord! Those who are able to see can look at You with their esoteric eyes; the mysteries of their hearts became manifested and their wants are granted.
هُتِكَتْ بَينَكَ وَبَينَهُم حُجُبُ الغَفْلَةِ فَسَكَنوا في نُورك وَتَنَفَّسُوا بِروحِكَ، فَصارَتْ قُلوبُهُم مَغارِسَ لِهَيبَتِكَ، وَأبْصارُهُم مَعاكِفاً لِقُدرَتِكَ. وَقَرُبَتْ أرواحُهُم مِن قُدسِكَ فَجالَسوا اسْمَكَ بِوَقارِ المُجالَسَةِ وَخُضُوعِ المُخاطَبَةِ، فأَقْبَلْتَ إلَيهِم إقْبالَ الشَّفيقِ، وَأَنْصَتَّ لَهُم إنْصاتَ الرّفِيقِ، وَأجَبْتَهُم إجاباتِ الأحِبّاءِ، وَناجَيْتَهُم مُناجاةَ الأخِلاّءِ.
The veils of ignorance have been removed between You and them; Your illumination has enlightened their hearts; they breath the breeze of Your Blessings; Your Majesty and Splendor have overwhelmed their hearts; they witness the signs of Your Absolute Power everywhere; there souls have reached near Your Sacred Thrown and with dignity, tranquillity and humility engage themselves in Your invocations. Like a friend, You have paid attention to them, listened to their words, granted their wants and communicated with them.
فَبَلِّغْ بي المَحلَّ الّذي إلَيهِ وَصَلوا، وانْقِلْنِي مِن ذِكْرِي إلى ذِكْرِكَ، وَلا تَتْرُكْ بَينِي وَبَينَ مَلَكُوتِ عِزِّكَ باباً إلاّ فَتَحْتَهُ وَلا حِجاباً مِن حُجُبِ الغَفْلَةِ إلاّ هَتَكْتَهُ، حَتّى تُقيمَ روحِي بَينَ ضِياءِ عَرشِكَ، وَتَجْعَلَ لَها مَقاماً نُصبَ نُورِكَ، إنَّكَ عَلى كُلّ شَيءٍ قَديرٌ.
Please bestow upon me similar positions as attained by them, let the veils of ignorance be uplifted so that my soul will see the Divine illumination of Your Celestial Kingdom and receive an exalted position therein. Indeed You have the absolute power over all things.
إلَهي ما أوْحَشَ طَريقاً لا يَكونُ رَفيقِي فيهِ أمَلِي فِيكَ وَأبْعَدَ سَفَراً لا يَكونُ رَجائِي مِنهُ دَليلي مِنكَ. خَابَ مَن اعْتَصَمَ بِحَبْلِ غَيْرِكَ، وَضَعُفَ رُكْنُ مَن اسْتَنَدَ إلى غَيرِ رُكْنِكَ، فَيا مُعَلِّم مُؤمِّلِيهِ الأمَلَ فَيَذهَب عَنْهُم كَآبَةُ الوَجَلِ، وَلا تَحْرِمْنِي صَالِحَ العَمَلِ، واكْلأنِي كَلاءَةَ مَن فارَقَتْهُ الحِيَلُ، فَكَيفَ يَلحَقُ مُؤمِّلِيكَ ذُلُّ الفَقْرِ وَأنْتَ الغَنِيُّ عَن مَضارِّ المُذنِبِينَ.
O Lord! How fearsome and terrible is the journeying on the road which does not terminate in you. Whoever chooses a shelter of other than You will certainly be disappointed. Whoever puts his trust in other than You is like sitting upon an unstable base. It is You who have induced hope within the hearts of all the hopeless ones and have removed their pains and sufferings, please do not deprive me of the grace of performing righteous deeds and preserve me the shelterless and destitute in your shelter. How come those who put their trust in Your Mercy are inflicted with deprivation while You remain absolutely free from the need of inflicting loss upon sinners.
إلَهي وإنّ كُلَّ حَلاوةٍ مُنقَطِعَةٌُ، وَحَلاوَةُ الإيمانِ تَزْدادُ حَلاوَتُها اتِّصالاً بِكَ. إلَهي وإنّ قَلبِي قَد بَسَطَ أمَلَهُ فِيكَ، فَأذِقْهُ مِن حَلاوَةِ بَسْطِكَ إيّاهُ البُلوغَ لِما أمَّلَ، إنّكَ عَلى كُلِّ شَيءٍ قَديرٌ.
O Lord! All sweetness and pleasures eventually terminate except the pleasure of faith which increases every day. O Lord! My heart is looking towards You with plenty of desires, please let my heart taste the sweetness of seeing those desires granted. Indeed You have absolute power over all things.
إلَهي أسْألُكَ مَسأَلَةَ مَن يَعرِفُكَ كُنْهَ مَعْرِفَتِكَ مِن كُلِّ خَيْرٍ يَنبَغِي لِلمُؤمِنِ أنْ يَسْلُكَهُ، وَأعوذُ بِكَ مِن كُلِّ شَرٍّ وَفِتْنَةٍ أعَذْتَ بِها أحِبّاءَكَ مِن خَلقِكَ، إنّكَ عَلى كُلّ شَيءٍ قَديرٌ.
O Lord! As one who has reached the enlightenment of Your Essence, I beg You to bestow upon me all the blessings which are worthy of a believer. And protect me from all sorts of evils and calamities the way You protect all Your favorite servants. Indeed, You have absolute power over all things.
إلَهي أسْألُكَ مَسْأَلَةَ المِسكِينِ الّذي قَد تَحَيَّرَ في رَجاهُ، فَلا يَجِدُ مَلجَأً وَلا مُسنَداً يَصِلُ بهِ إلَيكَ، وَلا يَسْتَدِلُّ بهِ عَلَيكَ إلاّ بِكَ وَبِأرْكانِكَ وَمَقاماتِكَ الّتي لا تَعْطِيلَ لَها مِنكَ. فَأسْألُكَ بِاسْمِكَ الّذي ظَهَرْتَ بهِ لِخاصَّةِ أوْلِيائِكَ، فَوَحَّدُوكَ وَعَرفُوكَ وَعَبَدوكَ بِحَقِيقَتِكَ أنْ تُعَرِّفَنِي نَفْسَكَ لأقِرَّ لَكَ بِرُبوبِيَّتِكَ عَلى حَقيقَةِ الإيمانِ بكَ وَلا تَجْعَلْنِي يا إلَهي مِمَّنْ يَعبُدُ الاسْمَ دُونَ المَعْنى وألحِظْنِي بِلَحْظَةٍ مِن لَحَظاتِكَ تُنَوِّرُ بِها قَلبِي بِمَعْرِفَتِكَ خاصّةً وَمَعْرِفَةِ أولِيائِكَ، إنّكَ عَلى كُلّ شَيءٍ قَديرٌ.
O Lord! My request to you is like the request of a confused begger who does not have any shelter or support; and except from You, he does not seek the help of any other helper. I request by the Name, which became manifested for Your favorite saints enabling them to become enlightened about Your Holy Essence, comprehended You as One and worshipped You with sincerity indeed. Please, bestow upon me too the learning to comprehend Your Holy Essence so that I may admit the reality of Your Divinity and Godhood; and do not include me among them who worship Your Name only without paying attention to its meanings. And allocate at least a certain moments (among various moments) to pay attention to me enlightening my heart with Your Sacred Essence as well as the essence of your favorite saints. Indeed, You have absolute power over all things.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 94, pp. 94)
Instructions Of Imam Al‑Sadiq
`Unwan al-Ba¥ri, an old man of ninety-four years old, narrated:
For the sake of acquiring knowledge, I used to visit Malik ibn Anas. When Ja`far ibn Muhammad (a.s) came to our city, I went to visit him because I wanted to acquire knowledge from his distinguished and eminent personality. One day, he said to me, ‘I have received God’s special favor and attention and have incantation and invocations for every hour all day and night; therefore, you should not prevent me from reciting them. Like before, continue to visit Malik ibn Anas for acquiring knowledge.’ Hearing these words, I became sad and disappointed and left his company. I said to myself that If the Imam had discovered some goodness within me, certainly he would not have deprived me of his company. Then, I left for the Prophet’s Mosque and greeted to him. Next day, I went to the Holy Prophet’s tomb and after offering two units of prayer, I raised my hands up and said, ‘O God! O God! Make Ja`far’s heart soft towards me so that I will benefit by his knowledge; and guide me towards the straight path.’ After that, with a heavy broken heart, I returned home and visited Malik ibn Anas because love and affection for Ja`far ibn Muhamamd had penetrated far deeper inside my heart. For a long lime, I confined myself within the four walls of my home and did not come out except for offering the daily prayers until my patience was exhausted. I went to the Imam’s house and after knocking the door asked permission to enter. A servant came out and asked, ‘What do you want?’ ‘I would like to see the Imam and greet him,’ I replied. ‘My master is offering his prayer,’ replied the servant and returned inside the home while I kept awaiting outside the door. After a little while, the servant returned and said, ‘You may come in.’ I entered and greeted the Imam. He replied and said, ‘Please sit down. May Almighty God bestow upon you forgiveness.’ Then, he lowered his head and after a prolonged silence raised his head and said, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Abu-``Abdullah,’ I replied. ‘May Almighty God bless you with His Special Grace and bestow upon you frimness. What do you want?’ ‘In this meeting, if there is no any other advantage for me except this prayer, it is much going to be extremely precious for me,’ I said to myself. Then, I said, ‘I asked Almighty God to soften your heart towards me so that I may benefit by your knowledge. I hope my prayer would have been granted.’
‘Abu-`Abdullah,’ said the Imam, ‘Knowledge cannot be acquired by learning rather real knowledge is the light which illuminates a person’s heart when blessed with His guidance. If you seek knowledge, first make your heart comprehend the reality of (God’s) servantship, then request knowledge by means of deeds and ask Almighty God for comprehension so that He will make you understand.’
I said, ‘O Honorable one! O Imam! What is the reality of servantship?’ The Imam replied, ‘The reality of servantship consists of three things; first, a servant should not consider himself as the owner of things which have been bestowed upon him by Almighty God because servants never become owner of things; rather, they should consider all the wealth as God’s property and spend it exactly in the same manner as prescribed by Him; second, a servant should regard himself as absolutely helpless in managing his affairs; third, he should carry on deeds enjoined by Almighty God and avoid forbidden ones. Accordingly, if a servant does not consider himself as the owner of the wealth by spending it for the sake of God, it will be easier for him. If he trusts Almighty God as a competent manager for his affairs, the tolerance of worldly hardships will be easier for him. If he keeps himself engaged in performing the Divine commands and sustains himself from committing forbidden deeds, his precious time will not be wasted in nonsense amusements. If Almighty God honors a servant with these three characteristics, dealing with the world, people and Satan will be easier for him. In that case, he will not endeavor for increase of wealth for self‑glorification or wish for things whose possession is considered as means of prestige and superiority among the people or waste his precious hours in false pleasures. This is the first rank of piety which has been described by Almighty God:
تِلْكَ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ نَجْعَلُهَا لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُرِيدُونَ عُلُوًّا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فَسَادًا وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ.
As for that Abode of the Hereafter We assign it unto those who seek not oppression in the earth, nor yet corruption. The sequel is for those who ward off (evil). 28:83’
I then asked the Imam to bestow upon me practical instructions and he said, ‘I recommend you to follow nine items, which are my recommendations and instructions for all those wayfarers who are journeying towards Almighty God, and I pray that Almighty God bestows upon you His special grace: three are for practicing self‑ascesticism, three for forbearance and three for education. Hence, preserve them and be careful not to act negligently in their practice. The three recommended for self‑asceticism are (1) being careful not to eat anything unless you feel an appetite for it; otherwise, it will be a matter of foolishness and ignorance; (2) not to eat anything unless you feel hungry; (3) to recite the Basmalah (bismillahirrahmanirrahim) before eating which should be lawfully earned. The three instructions for forbearance are (1) if one threatens you that for each sentence you speak to me, I will speak ten sentences in response, you should reply that if you speak ten sentences to me, you will not hear even one sentence from me; (2) if one threatens you with abusive language, you must promise him good wishes and advice; (3) if one accuses you, you must reply that if his accusation was righty, you pray to Almighty God to forgive you, and if it was wrong, you pray to Almighty God to forgive the accuser. The three recommended for education are (1) to ask the learned ones about whatever you do not know provided that you do not intend to examin their knowledge or give them hard time; (2) to act prudently and strictly avoid following your whims; (3) to strictly avoid issuance of religious decrees (fatwa) without religious bases. As much as you like to run away when encountering a wild beast, you should run away from offer your neck as a bridge for people to cross.’ The Imam then added, ‘You may leave now. I have given you sufficient advice. Do not disrupt me from: continuation of my incantations and invocations because I believe in the dignity of my own self. Peace be upon those who are obedient to guidance.’ (al-Kashkul by Shaykh al-Baha’i, vol. 2, pp. 184, and Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 1, pp. 224)
Instructions of `Allamah al-Majlisi
Mulla Muhammad Taqi Majlisi, one of the most eminent wayfarers of gnostic journey and a great learned scholars, writes down:
“Whatever I have discovered during my period of self-building and gnosticism is related to the period when I was busy in studying Tafsir (commentary of the Holy Qur’an). One night while I was half-asleep, I saw the Holy Prophet (a.s) in a dream. I said to my self that it is a good opportunity to take a profound look about the perfection and moral ethics of him. The more I paid attention to him, I found his splendor and illumination spreading until it brightened the entire space around me. At this moment, it was inspired to me that the Holy Qur’an is the perfect manifestation of the Holy Prophet’s moral ethics. Therefore, to know more about Holy Prophet’s moral ethics, I must ponder deeply upon the Holy Qur’an. The more I paid attention to the verses of Holy Qur’an the more I discovered the sublime realities until at one instant I felt that a lot of realities and learnings have been descended upon my heart. After that, whenever I pondered upon a Qur’anic verse, I felt that a special talent for its comprehension was bestowed upon me. Of course, appreciation of this incident by one who has not been blessed with such a grace is naturally difficult if not impossible, but my aim was to advice and guide the fellow brothers for the sake of Almighty God. The guidelines for ascesticitn and sef-building are (1) useless talks and anything other than God’s Remembrance should be strictly avoided; (2) living in luxurious, beautiful and comfortable housing as well as consumption of expensive foods, drinks and clothing should be renounced. (one should limit himself to the extent of fulfilling his genuine needs); (3) social mixing with other than God’s favorite saints should be strictly avoided; (4) excessive sleep should be avoided and God’s invocation with complete dedication should be recited continuously.
By continuous recital of definite invocations such as ya hayyu ya qayyum (O Self‑existent, O Eternal) and la ilaha illa’llah (There is no diety but God), God’s favorite sants have been able to obtain good results. I too have practiced the same invocation but perhaps my favorite invocation is ya allah (O Allah) with thorough cleansing of heart from all beings other than God together with absolute concentration towards Him. Of course, what is important is that God’s Remembrance should be accompanied by absolute concentration and heart presence. Also, all other deeds are not close to the importance assigned to invocation.
If this is done for a period of forty days and nights continuously, the doors of wisdom, learning and love will certainly be opened for the wayfarer enabling him to ascend towards the most exalted gnostic positions of annihilation in God or achieving permanence with Almighty God.” (Rawdat al-Muttaqin, vol. 13, pp. 128)
Letter of Akhund Mulla Husayn Quli Hamdani
In his letters to one of the scholars in Tabriz, the most eminent learned scholar and gnostic, Akhund Mulla Husayn Quli Hamdani writes:
“In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and peace and blessings be upon Muhammad and his progeny; and curse of God be upon their enemies. It should not remain hidden for the religious brothers that there is no way to achieve nearness to the Lord except strictly following the sacred religions law of Islam (Shari`ah ) in all movements, stops, conversations and instances. Superstitious methods practiced by some pseudo-mystics and ignorant ones according to their intellectual taste do not produce any desired result except their taking farther distance from Almighty God.
Even when a person who abstains from eating meat and leaves his mustache untrimmed is blessed with faith (i.e. belief about the immunity from sins for the Infallible Imams), he must understand that unless he strictly practices their instructions and traditions for invocations, he will become farther away from Almighty God. It is therefore necessary that he must regard the sacred Divine law (Shari`ah) with special reverence and should attach utmost importance for its execution. Whatever is emphasized in the sacred religious law as well as whatever is comprehended by this poor servant by using intellect and deliberating traditions may be concluded: ‘The fulfillment of the heartiest desire of all creatures—God’s Nearness—depends upon their making serious efforts and endeavors to quit sinning.
If this is not done, the recital of invocations and pondering upon Qur’anic verses will not produce any useful result for heart because the services rendered by one who is in direct rebellion against the King will be useless. The exaltedness belongs to that King of Splendor and Majesty whose enmity is the worst.
You must better understand that your efforts endeavor for achieving God’s Nearness while still sinning and being contaminated is a serious mistake. How come this matter has remained hidden from your eyes that it is the sin of a sinner which causes the King to feel hatred towards him and this hatred can never be summed up with His love.
Since you know with certainty that avoidance of sins is the beginning, end, apparent and hidden of faith, the sooner you engage yourself in self‑struggle the better it be. With absolute dedication from the moment you wake up along the day until the time of sleep, you must monitor your self strictly. Be careful to remain respectful because you are continuously in the presence of the Lord of Majesty and splendor and know that all your body parts and members, including the finest particles of your being, are the prisoners of His Power; therefore, do not forget to observe the rules of etiquette. Worship him in a manner as though you are actually seeing Him, and if you do not see Him, He sees you. Be conscious about His Majesty and your humility, His Eminence and your lowness, His Magnanimity and your abjectness and His Freedom from need and your neediness. Be aware that if you act negligently in remembering the Lord of Glory and Magnanimity but He does remember you, and in his presence stood like a helpless, wretched servant. Like a bony dog put your chin upon dirt before His feet. Is this distinction and honor not sufficient for you that He has permitted you to utter His Holy Exalted Name by your filthy tongue—the tongue which is unclean due to pollution of sinning?
O dear! Since the Most Compassionate and Most Merciful Lord has made the tongue as the reservoir of the mountain of light to be commissioned only for His Holy invocation, it is indeed shameless that the King’s reservoir be polluted by refusal and filth of lying, backbiting, cursing, teasing and sinning. It should be a place full of perfume instead of being filled with filth and refusal. Beyond any doubt, since you acted negligently in supervising your self strictly, you do not know what sort of horrible sins and transgression have been committed by your organs—ear, tongue, eye, hand, foot, belly and private parts.
What sorts of devastatingfires have you ignited? How much corruption have you induced in your religion? How much prohibited wounds have you inflicted upon your heart through the tongue’s swords and arrows? It will be surprising if it has not already been killed. If I want to comment on the details of these deviations, this entire book will not be enough. You have not yet cleaned your body parts from the filth; how do you expect that one writes to you about heart’s condition? Thus, hurry up to repent truly and seriously guard your self.
In summary, after making his best endeavors for strictly guarding the self, a wayfarer striving for God’s Nearness should not be negligent about night vigil awakening before dawn and offering the Night Prayer (Salat al-Layl) with concentration and heart presence. If time permits, he should engage himself in hymns and invocations but at least a part of night should be spent in invocation with heart presence. In all these situations, the wayfarer should not be without grief and sorrow and if he is so, he should acquire its causes.
In the end, recite Tasbih al-Zahra’ (saying Allahu-Akbar thirty-four times, Alhamdulillah thirty-three times and Subhanallah thirty-three times), Surah of Tawhid (No. 112) twelve times, la ilaha illa’llah wahdahu la sharika lahu lahu’l-mulk (There in no diety but God to Whom there is no partner. All kingdom is His) ten times, la ilaha illa’llah (There is no diety but God) one hundred times, Astaghfirullaha wa atubu ilayh (I beseech God’s forgiveness and repent to Him) seventy times, a portion of Holy Qur’an and the famous Du`a’ al-Sabah of Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s).
You should remain in the state of ablution continuously and it is preferred to offer two units of prayer after performing each ablution. Be careful not to inflict the least damage or hurt upon the feeling of fellow human beings. You must strive sincerely in meeting the needs of Muslims especially the scholars and pious ones. Do not attend any meeting where there is a possibility of sinning; even socialization with the negligent ones is hamful. Also, accessive involvement in world affairs, including the lawful, too much humor, nonsense talking and listening to false rumors are injurious for the heart condition ultimately making it a dead heart.
Without practicing strict self‑control, simply engaging in invocation and deliberations will be fruitless and will not produce the results even though if one succeeds in achieving ecstasy, because it will not be durable and one should not be fooled with ecstasy achieved without self-surveillance. I do not have lot of strength and I beseech you to pray a lot for me and do not forget this humble wretched sinner. Do recite Surah of Qadr one hundred times on Thursday night and Friday afternoon.” (Tadhkirat al-Muttaqin, pp. 207)
Instructions of Mirza Jawad Agha Maliki Tabrizi
Mirza Jawad Agha Maliki Tabrizi, one of the most celebrated gnostics writes:
The Holy Prophet (a.s) through his repeated recommendations has emphasized on the importance of prolonged prostration. Prolonged prostration is the most nearest aspect of servanthood; and because of this, two prostrations have been incorporated in each unit of prayer. About the prolonged prostration of the Infallible Imams (a.s) and their Shi`ites, a lot of traditions have been narrated. In one of his prolonged prostration, Imam al‑Sajjad has repeated the following invocation one thousand times:
لا إله إلا الله حقّاً حقّاً، لا إله إلا الله تَعَبُّداً ورِقّاً، لا إله إلا الله إيماناً وصِدْقاً.
La ilaha illa’llahu haqqan haqqa; la ilaha illa’llahu ta`abbudan wa riqqa; la ilaha illa’llahu imanan wa ¥idqa (There is no diety but God truly; there is no diety but God—I bow in humility and servitude in front of Him. There is not diety but God—with faith and honesty.
Imam al‑Ka¨im (a.s) has been reported that he sometimes prolonged his prostration from morning until noon, and similar incidents have been narrated about his companions—Ibn Abi-`Amir, Jamil and Kharbouz.
During my stay in the holy city of Najaf, I met a pious scholar who was an authority. I once ask him What special act he experienced during his life and was effective for a wayfarer in a spiritual joumey. He replied that it was to prolong the prostration during a period of twenty-four hours and recite La ilaha illa anta subhanaka inni kuntu mina’¨alimin (There is no God save Thee. Be Thou Glorified! Lo! I have been a wrong-doer). While reciting this invocation, one must pay attention to the fact that Almighty God is far above oppressing anybody; rather one is the reason of oppresing oneself and thus Almighty God must not be blamed.
My teacher recommended this prostration to those who were interested in gnostic journey; and those who performed it obtained good results especially those who prolonged it more. Some of them repeated this invocation in prostration one thousand times or more or less. About some of them, I heard that they repeated it three thousand times in their prostration. (al-Muraqabat, pp.122)
Instructions of Shaykh Najmuddin
Shaykh Najmuddin Razi writes:
Know that engaging in invocations without paying regards to recital manners and relevant etiquettes will not produce useful results. First of all, a devoted wayfarer should prepare himself thoroughly to meet all the requirements of moral etiquette. When a true devotee is inflicted with the pain of desire for undertaking the spiritual journey, its symptoms are that he develops intense affection with invocations and feels frightened with the people until reaching to a point whereby he turns his face away from the people and takes shelter in invocation, as the Holy Qur’an says:
قُلْ اللَّهُ ثُمَّ ذَرْهُمْ فِي خَوْضِهِمْ يَلْعَبُونَ.
“Say: Allah. Then leave them to their play of cavilling. 6:91”
As he continues to guard his invocations, he should not be negligent to its basis, which is true repentance and should not commit sins. While engaging in invocations, it is preferable to take a bath and in case it is not possible, one must make ablutions because invocation is tantamount of waging wars against enemies in the battlefield which cannot be done without armaments, and this is why the ablution has been called the armaments of believers. The clothing of a devotee should be clean and should meet four requirements; first, cleanliness from impurities such as blood and urine; second, cleanliness from oppression such as that the clothing are not usurped; third, cleanliness from unlawfulness such as that clothing should not have forbidden material such as silk (for men); fourth, cleanliness from vanity such as that it should be short according to the traditions and should not be dress of vanity.
The place of invocation should be dark, clean and isolated and it is preferred to make it perfumed by burning sow incenses. An invoker should sit in the direction of qiblah cross-legged because Khwaja after offering the Morning Prayer used to sit cross-legged until sunrise. He should place his hands upon his thies making his heart and eyes ready with all due respect and should start reciting the invocation la ilaha illa’llah (There is no diety but God) with his entire being in a rhythmic cycle in a whistling manner without raising his voice. He should recite the invocation firmly and continuously pondering upon its meanings heartfully as well as negating all the external thoughts. Like the meanings of la ilaha illa’llah, he should negate whatever thoughts enter inside his heart meaning that he will no longer desire for anything else and will not like to have any other beloved except Almighty God. In totality, he should negate other gods and should affirm Almighty God as the beloved and ultimate desired object.
While chanting each phrase of invocation, the heart should accompany the tongue from the beginning to the end negating and affirming and in this process whenever he looks inside his heart and discovers its being attached to something else, he should discard and return it to Almighty God. By negating la ilaha illa’llah, he must nullify heart’s attachment to other than God destroying the roots of his attachment to other objects and replacing it with God’s love.
In this manner, the devotee should say invocation continuously so that his heart gradually becomes cleaned and purified from all sorts of usual desirable objects achieving a state of heart’s absolute domination with invocation. When becoming totally annihilated, the invocation’s illumination turns him into singular, purifies his essence with all sort of attractions and obstacles and enables him to pass through the material and spiritual worlds swiftly.
It is said that the heart of a believer is the place especially reserved for the union with Almighty God. When the heart’s domain is occupied by the alien elements, God’s Majesty and Exaltedness does not consider it befitting for His entry. However, once the herald of " la ilaha illa’llah announces the cleanliness of heart’s domain from alien elements, one may expect the entry of the Lord of the Majesty and Splendor as the Holy Qur’an says:
فَإِذَا فَرَغْتَ فَانصَبْ. وَإِلَى رَبِّكَ فَارْغَبْ.
“So when thou art relieved, still toil; And strive to please thy Lord. 94:7-8” (Mar¥ad al-`Ibad, pp. 150)
In the light of above discussion, it is clear that eminent gnostics while regarding invocation as one of the best means for undertaking gnostic journey for its implementation have experienced and recommended various methods. The reason is that all invocations described therein assure the real aim behind them which is to cut off all connections from other than God and paying absolute attention to Almighty God. Their influence varies in proportion to the rank and degree of a devotee. The rank and position of a wayfarer, the place where one stands upon the path and the most suitable invocation to be recited—all these matters come into picture.
In the books of traditions and supplications, a lot of invocation and supplication have been narrated and for each one of them special rewards have been described accordingly. Invocations and supplications may be divided into two categories—independent and conditional.
For some invocations, particular timings, special conditions and a certain number have been prescribed and in these cases the wayfarer is supposed to perform them exactly in the same manner as prescribed by the Infallible Imams (a.s) so that he earn the prescribed reward. However, some invocations are independent and in those cases the devotee is free to select the suitable number for its recital and its timings according to his circumstances and conditions or may consult his teacher and guide. Also, one may resort to the books of supplication and traditions. It seems important to emphasize on the importance of the following matters:
First: A wayfarer must be aware of the fact that the real aim behind the invocation is to attain absolute concentration and heart presence towards Almighty God. Therefore, in selecting the timings, quantity and quality of invocation, he should keep in mind the real aim and continue recital. Yet, whenever he feels tired, exhausted and disaffected, he should discontinue and start again at some appropriate time because Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:
إنّ لِلقُلوبِ شَهوَةً وإقْبالاً وإدْباراً، فَأتُوها مِن قِبَلِ شَهْوَتِها وإقْبالِها، فإنَّ القَلْبَ إذا كَرِهَ عِمِيَ.
“Hearts are exposed to states of desire, appeal and loathing; therefore, deeds must be performed when the heart is willing for to perform a deed with a reluctant heart results in heart’s blindness.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 61)
Second: It must be understood clearly that the real aim behind continuation of invocation and practicing ascesticm is to attain self-perfection and God’s Nearness, which is not possible except through doing the obligations. One who is responsible for performing some social and religious obligations must fulfil them properly and, while doing so, one must not be negligent to remember God or recite invocations to the furthest extent. Also, one may again repeat it in his free times; but if by taking the excuse of asceticism and continuation of invocation he hides himself into seclusion and does not fulfil his due obligations, such deeds will not result in God’s Nearness.
 Mirza Jawad Agha Maliki Tabrizi, the late most distinguished jurisprudent and perfect mystic, was born in Tabriz. After finishing his early education at his hometown, he left for Najaf, which at that time was supposed to be the most reputable religious learning center. In Najaf, he attended the lectures of the master jurisprudents there, such as Akhund Khurasani (the author of Kifayat al-Usul) Hajji Agha Ri¤a Hamadani (the author of Misbah al‑Faqih) and al-Muhaddith al-Nuri (the author of Mustadrak al‑Wasa’il). During this period, he came in contact with the most celebrated mystic personalities of that time, such as Akhund Mulla Husayn Quli Hamadani who was unique in knowledge, ethics and mystics. Mirza Jawad spent fourteen years with him during which he acquired profound knowledge of ethics and mysticism. He attained such higher spiritual positions in gnosticism that a great jurisprudents and scholars like Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Isfahani known as Kampani, an outstanding authority of learning and deeds, in a letter to Mirza Jawad seeks his instructions regarding ethics and mysticism.
Mirza Jawad returned to his hometown in AH 1320 or 21 and settled there, but after a few years due to constitutional revolution, the conditions in Tabriz deteriorated facing him to migrate to Qum where he started teaching jurisprudence from Fay¤ al-Kashani’s book entitled al-Mafatih and taught ethics (Akhlaq). Also, he kept himself busy in writing and left many precious works. Ultimately, after living a fruitful life full of learning, teaching, writing, refinement and purification of self, he left this transient world to join his beloved on the eleventh of Dhu’l-Hijjah, AH 1343. He was buried in Shaykhan Graveyard near the tomb of Mirza Qummi. His virtues and mystical perfection are too great to be confined in words.