'O God, carry us in the ships of Thy deliverance, give us to enjoy the pleasure of whispered prayer to Thee, make us drink at the pools of Thy love, let us taste the sweetness of Thy affection and nearness, allow us to struggle in Thee, preoccupy us with obeying Thee, and purify our intentions in devoting works to Thee, for we exist through Thee and belong to Thee, and we have no one to mediate with Thee but Thee!' Imam Sajjad ('A); Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Eight stages of Sincerity...and some of the counterfeits!

One of the important disciplines of any niyah, which is of the important parts of all worships and of the general and comprehensive instructions, is "sincerity".

It has been narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SA) said:
"Every person gets according to his intention. So, the one whose intention is to migrate to Allah and His Messenger, his migration will be to Allah and His Messenger; and the one whose intention of migration is to attain to this world [to get something of it] or to marry a woman, his migration is to what he has intended." [Mustadrakul Wasa'il, chs. on "Preliminaries to the Acts of Worship", ch. 5, hadith 5.]

One of these stages of sincerity is to purge (cleanse) the act, whether cordial or formal, from the blemish of acquiring the creatures' pleasure and attracting their hearts for the sake of a praise, and advantage or anything else.
And the counterfeit of it is the act performed hypocritically, which is a juristic hypocrisy and is the meanest of all degrees of hypocrisies, and such a hypocrite is the lowest and meanest of all hypocrites.

The second stage is to purge (cleanse) the act from wanting the fulfilment of mundane objectives and transient desires, although these acts may be fulfilled in order to attain to Allah's grace, such as performing night salats [nafilah] for improving one's sustenance etc.
Some jurisprudents regard this degree of sincerity to be necessary for the correctness of the acts of worship…this salat however has no value, whatsoever, in the eyes of the people of knowledge, and it is like all other lawful gains, or maybe even lower.

The third stage is to purge (cleanse) the act from trying to attain to corporeal paradises, houris, luxurious abodes and the likes of the corporeal pleasures.
Its counterfeit is the worship of the traders, as is described in the noble hadiths.

The fourth stage is to purify the act from being afraid of the threatened bodily punishment and torture.
The counterfeit of this is the worship of the slaves, as is mentioned in the narratives.
To the people of the heart, this kind of worship is also of no value and far from being a service to Allah.

The fifth stage is to purge (cleanse) the act from trying to attain to intellectual happiness and everlasting spiritual pleasures, and to join the Cherubim, the group of the sacred intellects and the favourite angels.
Its counterfeit is acting for this purpose. Although this stage is great and an important goal, in the ways of the people of Allah, this stage has also its shortcomings in suluk, and its salik is also regarded as a trader or a worker, though his trade and business are different, in many ways, from those of others.

As regards this stage, I mean the sixth one, it is to purge (cleanse) the act from being afraid of not attaining to those pleasures and of being deprived of this happiness.
Its counterfeit is to act for this stage out of fear. Although this is a lofty stage and is beyond the desire of one like the writer, yet, to the people of Allah, this is also the worship of the slaves, for it has causes.

The seventh stage is to purge (cleanse) it from attaining to the delights of the Divine Beauty and enjoying the pleasures of the lights of limitless glories, which are the Paradise of Meeting [the Lord].
This stage, I mean the stage of Meeting Allah, is one of the most important goals of the people of knowledge and those of heart. And the people of love and attraction are of the perfect ones among the people of Allah and His chosen ones.
Yet, this perfection is not the most perfect degree of the people of Allah. It is one of their many common states.

What we read in some invocations, such as the Sha'baniyah supplication, that Imam 'Ali (AS) and his pure progeny demand the said state, or allude to their being in that state, does not mean that their states are limited to this one, since the eighth stage, which is on the same level as this one, and which is purging (cleansing) the act from the fear of separation, is also not of the perfect states of the perfect ones.
Imam 'Ali's saying: "How could I forbear separating from You?" is just a reference to a brim-full common state of him and of one like him. 
Generally speaking, purging (cleansing) the act from these two stages is also a must to the people of Allah, for to act with them will be endued with causes and not free from selfish wants.

It is, thus, perfect sincerity. There are other stages which are out of the limits of sincerity, and fall under the criterion of monotheism, abstraction and guardianship, all of which do not fit here.

Imam Khomeini (may Allah [swt] raise his status and sanctify his grave)

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