The Spiritual Message of Shi'ism - Light of Islam

The Spiritual Message of Shi'ism




Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn

The message of Shi'ism to the world can he summarized
in one sentence: "To know God." Or in other
words it is to instruct man to follow the path of Divine
realization and the knowledge of God in order to gain
felicity and salvation. And this message is contained in
the very phrase with which the Holy Prophet commenced his
prophetic mission when he said: "Oh men! Know God in
His Oneness (and acknowledge Him) so that you will gain

As a summary explanation of this message we will add
that man is attached by nature to many goals in this
worldly life and to material pleasures. He loves tasty
food and drink, fashionable dress, attractive palaces and
surroundings a beautiful and pleasing wife sincere
friends and great wealth. And in another direction he is
attracted to political power, position reputation the
extension of his rule and dominion and the destruction of
anything that is opposed to his wishes.

But in his inner and primordial, God-given nature man
understands that all these are means created for man. but
man is not created for all these things. These things
should he subservient to man and follow him and not vice
versa. To consider the stomach and the region below it as
a final end of life is the logic of cattle and sheep. To
tear up cut and destroy others is the logic of the tiger
the wolf and the fox. The logic inherent in human
existence is the attainment of wisdom and nothing else.
This logic based upon wisdom with the power which it
possesses to discern between reality and the unreal
guides us toward the truth and not toward things our
emotions demand or toward passions, selfishness and
egoism. This logic considers man as a part of the
totality of creation without any separate independence or
the possibility of a rebellious self-centeredness. In
contrast to the current belief that man is the master of
creation and tames rebellious nature and conquers it to
force it to obey his wishes and desires. we find that in
reality man himself is an instrument in the hand of
Universal Nature and is ruled and commanded by it.

This logic based upon wisdom invites man to
concentrate more closely upon the apprehension he has of
the existence of this world until it becomes clear to him
that the world of existence and a11 that is in it does
not issue from itself but rather from an Infinite Source.
He will then know that all this beauty and ugliness all
these creatures of the earth and the heavens which appear
outwardly as independent realities gain reality only
through another.

Reality and are manifested only in Its Light, not by
themselves and through themselves. In the same way that
the "realities" as well as the power and
grandeur of yesterday have no greater value than tales
and legends of today so are the "realities" of
today no more than vaguely remembered dreams in relation
to what will appear as "reality" tomorrow. In
the last analysis, everything in itself is no more than a
tale and a dream. Only God is Reality in the absolute
sense, the One Who does not perish. Under the protection
of His Being, everything gains existence and becomes
manifested through the Light of His Essence.

If man becomes endowed with such vision and power of
apprehension, then the tent of his separative existence
will fall down before his eyes like a bubble on the
surface of water. He will see with his eves that the
world and all that is in it depend upon an Infinite Being
who possesses life, power, knowledge and every perfection
to an infinite degree. Man and every other being in the
world are like so many windows which display according to
their capacity the world of eternity which transcends
them and lies beyond them.

It is at this moment that man takes- from himself and
all creatures the quality of independence and primacy and
returns these qualities to their Owner. He detaches
himself from all things to attach himself solely to the
One God. Before His Majesty and Grandeur he does nothing
but bow in humility. Only then does he become guided and
directed by God so that whatever he knows he knows in
God. Through Divine guidance he becomes adorned with
moral and spiritual virtue and pure actions which are the
same as Islam itself the submission to God, the religion
that is in the primordial nature of things.

This is the highest degree of human perfection and the
station of the perfect man (the Universal Man; insan-i
), namely the Imam who has reached this rank
through Divine grace. Furthermore, those who have reached
this station through the practice of spiritual methods,
with the different ranks and stations that they possess,
are the true followers of the Imam. It becomes thus clear
that the knowledge of God and of the Imam are inseparable
in the same way that the knowledge of God is inextricably
connected to the knowledge of oneself. For he who knows
his own symbolic existence has already come to know the
true existence which belongs solely to God who is
independent and without need of anything whatsoever.