Life – An Exalted Destiny – Aga Khan III

Life - An Exalted Destiny - Aga Khan III Life is a great and noble calling; not a mean and grovelling thing to be shuffled through as best as we can, but a lofty and exalted destiny.

Faith and Intellect — Diana Steigerwald

A folio from the Akhlaq-i Nasiri, a philosophical treatise written by the famous scholar Nasir al-Din Tusi -

Faith (Îmân) and Intellect (‘Aql)

In Shî’ite Tradition*


By Diana Steigerwald

California State University (Long Beach)

Summary: Faith in Islâm bears witness to the divine Unicity (Tawhîd) and to the Prophecy (Nubuwwa) of Muhammad, at the same time it is deeply rooted in knowledge (‘ilm). It is based on arguments and proofs, since there is no significant distinction between science and faith. This article examines the importance of faith and intellect for some great Shî’ite thinkers: Muhammad Ibn Babawayh (d. 381/991-992), Shaykh Muhammad al-Mufîd (d. 413/1022), Nâsir-i Khusraw (d. after 465/1072), Abû al-Fath al-Shahrastânî (d. 548/1153), Nasîr al-dîn Tûsî (d. 672/1273), Haydar Âmulî (VII/XIVth century), and Mullâ Sadrâ (d. 1050/1640). It also highlights the meanings of these two technical terms for these thinkers. The relationship between intellect (‘aql) and faith (îmân) will be scrutinised briefly in the Qur’ân, and more particularly in Shî’ite traditions.

Résumé : La foi musulmane rend témoignage à l’Unicité divine (Tawhîd) et à la Prophétie (Nubuwwa) de Muhammad, tout en étant profondément enracinée dans la connaissance (‘ilm). L’islâm se fonde sur des arguments et des preuves, puisqu’il n’y a pas de distinction significative entre la science et la foi. Cet article examine l’importance de la foi et de l’intellect chez quelques grands penseurs Shî’ites : Muhammad Ibn Babawayh (m. 381/991-992), Shaykh Muhammad al-Mufîd (m. 413/1022), Nâsir-i Khusraw (m. après 465/1072), Abû al-Fath al-Shahrastânî (m. 548/1153), Nasîr al-dîn Tûsî (m. 672/1273), Haydar Âmulî (VII/XIVe siècle) et Mullâ Sadrâ (m. 1050/1640). Il éclaire la signification de ces deux termes techniques pour ces penseurs. La relation entre l’intellect (‘aql) et la foi (îmân) sera scrutée dans le Qur’ân, et plus particulièrement dans les traditions Shî’ites.


Faith in Islâm bears witness to the divine Unicity (Tawhîd) and to the Prophecy (Nubuwwa) of Muhammad, at the same time it is deeply rooted in knowledge (‘ilm). It is based on arguments and proofs, since there is no significant distinction between science and faith. Shî’a Islâm, since its beginning, has given enormous importance on the human capacity to use its intellect to serve the purpose of faith. This article examines the importance of faith and intellect for some great Shî’ite thinkers: Muhammad Ibn Babawayh (d. 381/991-992), Shaykh Muhammad al-Mufîd (d. 413/1022), Nâsir-i Khusraw (d. after 465/1072), Abû al-Fath al-Shahrastânî (d. 548/1153), Nasîr al-dîn Tûsî (d. 672/1273), Haydar Âmulî (VII/XIVth century), and Mullâ Sadrâ (d. 1050/1640). It also highlights the meanings of these two technical terms for these thinkers. The relationship between intellect (‘aql) and faith (îmân) (Steigerwald 1996a: 55-77) will be scrutinized briefly in the Qur’ân, and more particularly in Shî’ite traditions.

In the Qur’ân

The Qur’ân lays down the necessity of using the intellect (‘aql) and reflecting on Allâh’s creation (VII: 184; LIX: 2; LXXXVIII: 17-21). It describes the faithful (mu’min) as the one who follows the right path (al-sirât al-mustaqîm), chooses freely to believe in God, and benefits from the divine Light (II: 256-257). A Prophetic tradition explains that the one who has true faith sees things through the Light of God. (Furûzânfar 1334HS/1955: 14; Morris 1981: 229). In the Qur’ân (CIII: 1-3), the one who has no faith is lost and his works are useless. The heart of the mu’min becomes, par excellence, the seat of faith (cf. XLIX: 7; XVI: 106).

The Qur’ân distinguishes the spiritual level of a mu’min who has faith (îmân) from the simple Muslim who adheres to Islâm (XLIX: 14). In a tradition, the angel Gabriel asked the Prophet to explain the meaning of Islâm, îmân, and ihsân. For the Prophet, Islâm is testifying the Unicity of God (Tawhîd), recognizing His Messenger (Rasûl), observing the daily prayers (salât), paying the alms (zakât), fasting during the Ramadân and performing the pilgrimage if possible. Whereas îmân means believing in God, his angels, his scriptures, his Messengers, the Last Day, and the determination of good and evil. Finally the Prophet explained that ihsân consists in the worship of God as though you see Him (al-Shahrastânî 1366-1375/1947-1955 vol. 1: 53). In another tradition, the Prophet gave a more precise definition of faith which: “is a true inner knowing (ma’rifa) in the heart, a voicing with the tongue, and an activity with the limbs (Ibn Mâja 1952: 9; Chittick 1992: 6).”

In Early Shî’ite Traditions

At the death of the Prophet, two distinct parties emerged. They had difference of opinion concerning his succession. A small group, the Shî’ites, believed that the Successor of the Prophet must be from his family (ahl al-bayt) and that ‘Alî was explicitly designated (nass jalî) by the Prophet to be his Successor (Wasî). The spiritual authority of ‘Alî was passed to his direct descendants, the rightful Guides (Imâms). The majority of Sunnites held that the Prophet left no instruction concerning his succession, they agreed to elect Abû Bakr as the first Caliph. The Successor of the Prophet, for the Sunnites, is his Khalîfa (Caliph) and the guardian of the religious law (sharî’a) while for the Shî’ites, the Successor is the “Trusted” (Wasî) of his esoteric knowledge and the interpreter, par excellence, of the Qur’ân.

All Muslims must believe at least in the following tenets: i) Allâh revealed Islâm as a religion, ii) the last Prophet is Muhammad, and iii) the last revelation is the Qur’ân. The major difference arises from the interpretation of some Qur’ânic verses. The Sunnites rely upon proofs from the Qur’ân and the sunna (spoken and acted example of the Prophet) instead of relying on the intellect. Since Muhammad was the last Prophet who closed the prophetic cycle, the Shî’ites believe that humanity still needs spiritual guidance: the cycle of Imâma succeeds to the cycle of Prophecy.

The Shî’ites rely on the teaching of the direct heirs of the Prophets to apprehend faith. The Imâms are the holders of a knowledge imparted directly by God (‘Ilm ladunî). They guide the believers in their material and spiritual life. The first Imâm ‘Alî (d. 40/661) had the title of Prince of faithful (Amîr al-mu’minîn). The saying attributed to him describes Islâm as a faith of the Intellect, i.e. Intellect is another facet of faith.

The heart is the source of wisdom, with the ear as its channel. Philosophy is a tree growing in the heart, and bearing its fruits on the tongue. Belief and wisdom are twin brothers; God accepts not the one without the other (Ali Ibn Abî Tâlib n.d.: 33-34).

There is an intimate bond between intellect and faith. Everyone should practice his faith with understanding. Imâm ‘Alî transmitted the following tradition “intellect (‘aql) in the heart is like a lamp in the centre of the house (Ibn Babawayh 1385/1966: 1/bâb 86, 98 no. 1; Amir-Moezzi 1994: 48).” The intellect illuminates the faith and becomes a dimension of the interpretation of faith. ‘Alî explained that Islâm is affirmation (iqrar) whereas faith (îmân) is both affirmation and true inner knowing (ma’rifa). Ma’rifa is the foundation of the faith:

Ma’rifa is a proof (hujja); it is a grace (minna), and it is a bounty (ni’ma), from God; while acceptance is a kindness (mann), which God grants to whomsoever He wills. Ma’rifa is the creation (sun’) of God within the heart, and acceptance is the act of the heart, which is a gift of the Lord, and a protection and mercy. He to whom God has not given knowledge, will not be guided by any proof. He should pause and avoid (saying and acting about) matters of which he has no knowledge. […] He who is ignorant should turn to us (Imâms) for understanding what is difficult for him. God the Mighty and Glorious says: “Ask the people of the remembrance (ahl al-dhikr) if ye know not (XXI: 17) (Saying attributed to ‘Alî reported by al-Nu’mân 1951 original: vol. 1: 16 lines 9-10, translation: 15)”.

Faith is a grace granted by God to some Muslims. Those who did not receive the bounty (minna) of the ma’rifa should follow the teaching of the people of the reminder (ahl al-dhikr), i.e. the Imâms, the direct descendants of ‘Alî and the daughter of Muhammad, Fâtima.

Imâm Muhammad al-Bâqir (d. after 114/732) drew a small circle representing faith (îmân). Around it he drew a larger circle representing Islâm (submission). “For this reason, imân is part of Islâm, but Islâm in not part of îmân necessarily. It is possible for a man to be a Muslim without being a mu’min (faithful); but no one can be a mu’min without being a Muslim (Al-Nu’mân 1951 original vol. 1: 16, translation: 14).” Imâm Ja’far al-Sâdiq explained that: “îmân is included in Islâm, but Islâm does not necessarily imply îmân. Submission is the outward crust, whereas faith is the innermost and purest [kernel] in the hearth (al-Nu’mân original vol. 1: 15, translation: 14).”

For Imâm Ja’far al-Sâdiq faith consists of profession (qawl), action (‘amal), and intention (niyya) (al-Nu’mân 1951 original vol. 1: 5 line 1). The profession is not enough as one must have a good intention and act according to the established principles. Faith has many stages (darajât), grades (tabaqât) and stations (manâzil). It can increase or decrease and may become perfect (tâmm) or imperfect (nâqis) (tradition attributed to Ja’far al-Sâdiq reported by al-Nu’mân 1951 original vol. 1: 5 lines 16-17, 6 line 1).

Imâm Ja’far al-Sâdiq often distinguished the simple Muslim from the faithful:

Islâm consists of the following exterior aspects to which people adhere (al-Islâm huwa al-zâhir alladhî ‘alayhi al-nâs): the two testimonies about the Unicity of God and the mission of the Prophet Muhammad, prayer, alms, the pilgrimage to Mekka, and fasting during the month of Ramadân. In addition to all this, faith is our true inner knowing (ma’rifa) (al-Kulaynî 1386/1966 vol. 3: 39; Amir-Moezzi 1994: 146 note 43).

The mu’min (faithful) is the one who is initiated to the esoteric secrets through the teaching of the Imâms. He fulfils his religious obligations but he is also transformed spiritually by the true inner knowing (ma’rifa).

For the Ithnâ’ashriyya Shî’ites

The Shî’ites are constituted of two main groups: the Twelvers (Ithnâ’ashriyya) and the Ismâ’îlis. The Twelvers believed that the Prophet was succeeded by twelve Imâms. The last Imâm Muhammad al-Mahdî went into a major occultation (al-ghaybat al-kubrâ). The Twelvers and the Ismâ’îlis followed the same line of Imâms until the sixth Imâm Ja’far al-Sâdiq. The Twelvers recognised Mûsâ Kâzim as Imâm while the Ismâ’îlis followed his older son Ismâ’îl.

For the Twelver Muhammad Ibn Babawayh (d. 381/991-992), relying on the Shî’ite traditions, “faith is profession with the tongue and belief in the heart and action with the limbs. It increases with works and decreases with their omission. Every mu’min is a Muslim and not every Muslim a mu’min (Ibn Babawayh 1377/1957: 10; McDermott 1978: 359).” Ibn Babawayh explained that man needs to follow the guidance of a divinely appointed Imâm to attain the knowledge of God. Human reason alone cannot arrive at full knowledge of God. When traditions are available, Ibn Babawayh did not rely on his own speculation (Ibn Babawayh1387/1967: 10, 290-291; McDermott 1978: 320-321). He limited the use of rational theology to explain the meanings of traditions and stuck close to their literal senses.

According to Shaykh Muhammad al-Mufîd (d. 413/1022), Shî’ites are the faithful because they believe in the Imâma of the Prophet’s Family (al-Mufîd 1371/1952a: 71 lines 3-6). For al-Mufîd, human Intellect needs the help of revelation in its premises and its conclusions (al-Mufîd 1371/1952a: 11-12; McDermott 1978: 317; for the point of view of Ibn Rushd see Steigerwald 1995: 445). The knowledge which cannot be deduced by the human intellect should rely on the teaching of Imâms. The unaided intellect is unable to reach the truth therefore it must rely on traditions (al-Mufîd1371/1952b: 46-47; McDermott 1978: 321). For example, the questioning in the grave is only known through revelation.

The Sûfî Shî’ite Haydar Âmulî (VII/XIVth century) distinguished three spiritual levels related to these three concepts : submission (Islâm), faith (îmân), and certainty (yaqîn). All existence is contained in these levels: sharî’a, tarîqa, and haqîqa. The common people follow the religious law (sharî’a). The people of faith follow both the religious law and the mystical path (tarîqa). The people of certainty know the truth (haqîqa). These three categories correspond to three levels of knowledge and three worlds: the mulk (the physical kingdom), the malakût (the realm of souls) and the jabarût (the realm of Intellects) (Âmulî 1982: 22; Âmulî 1989: 24-25).

Haydar Âmulî described four levels of the intellect: the material intellect (al-‘aql al-hayûlânî), the actual intellect (al-‘aql bil-fi’l), the intellectus in habitu (al-‘aql bil-malaka) and the acquired intellect (al-‘aql al-mustafâd). The first and the second refer to the levels of the common people, the third to the elite and the fourth to the elite of the elite (i.e. Prophets and Saints) (Âmulî 1982: 40; Âmulî 1989: 45-46). For Haydar Âmulî :

The intellect is like the foundation and the religious law (shar’) is like the building: the building cannot be firmly established without a foundation. […] The intellect is like a lamp and the divine code the oil which fuels it: if there is no oil, then the lamp will not burn, and without the lamp, there will be no light. Allâh has indicated this to us with His words: “Allâh is the light of the heavens and the earth […] Light upon Light.” What is referred to in the latter portion of the âya is the light of the intellect which is above the light of the religious law (Âmulî 1982: 40; Âmulî 1989: 46).

Without intellect, God’s worshipping would become deficient, because the religious law does not cover all aspects of belief and worship; likewise, the intellect without the religious law is unable to embrace all aspects of belief and worship. The intellect can perceive the universality of things but not the details (Âmulî 1982: 41; Âmulî 1989: 47).

The dutiful Muslim with the help of his intellectual faculty must look for the truth from the sayings of the infallible Prophet or Imâm (Âmulî 1982: 69; Âmulî 1989: 83). Haydar Âmulî thought that the human intellect is able to judge what is good or bad without depending on the evidence of the Qur’ân and traditions (ahâdîth) (Âmulî 1982: 82; Âmulî 1989: 100).

Haydar Âmulî wrote:

The intellect is a water-course in relation to the heart since wisdom (hikma) flows from the sea of the heart by way of the water-course of the intellect. Hence the words of the Prophet “Whoever devoted forty mornings to Allâh, springs of wisdom will appear from within his heart” that is, on the tongue of the intellect which is the interpreter of the heart (Âmulî 1982: 231; Âmulî 1989: 278).

The heart is the source of wisdom which is spread to all humans by the intellect, the interpreter of the heart.

For Mullâ Sadrâ al-Shîrâzî (m. 1050/1640), the one who has faith (îmân) is endowed with a philosophic discernment. He distinguished the spiritual level of a Muslim who uncritically accepts the religious law (sharî’a) from the faithful who has received an accomplished spiritual wisdom (Sadrâ 1981: 174 note 154, 92 note 9). According to Mullâ Sadrâ, faith is a wisdom (hikma) bestowed to some faithful. It is a knowledge (‘ilm) of God through His essence. Wisdom is a disclosure of the divine signs and a deep meditation on Allâh’s creation (Sadrâ 1992: 2).

For the Ismâ’îlis

The Ismâ’îlî history can be divided into many important phases from Imâm ‘Alî to the present living Imâm, the Âghâ Khân IV. Ismâ’îlism has multiple facets: in the Fâtimid period, it comes under the influence of Neo-Platonism; in the Alamût and post-Alamût periods it undergoes a synthesis with Sûfism, and in the ginânic period it becomes synthesized with Vaisnavism; in the modern era, the human intellect plays an important role in the quest of the perfect equilibrium between the material and the spiritual lives (Steigerwald 1999: 192 note 2; 1996b: 337 note 3). During the Ismâ’îlî history, there were many era of satr (concealment), the Imâms were “hidden from the public” (mastûr) when their life was in danger. The concept of mastûr must not be confused with the Twelver idea of ghayba which means that the twelfth Imâm Muhammad al-Mahdî is occulted till the Day of Resurrection. In Nizârî Ismâ’îlism, the Imam is always living and present on earth to guide those who desire to rise spiritually.

Ismâ’îlîs have a slightly different interpretation of faith; it is tied down with inner spiritual rebirth. The seeker of knowledge comes to life again and rises spiritually. For the Fâtimid Ismâ’îlî Nâsir-i Khusraw (d. after 465/1072), faith (îmân) is a light (nûr); the ignorant is similar to a dead person, but the seeker of knowledge is similar to a dead person who comes back to life again. The faithful follows the light of science (‘ilm) (Khusraw 1332/1953: 312 line 7 to 313 line 1). The one who has received faith (îmân) is enlightened by the science, which is part of the real faith. The ignorant who does not instruct himself remains in the darkness.

The Sunnites have often accused the Ismâ’îlîs of blind imitation (taqlîd) of their Imâm. For Nâsir-i Khusraw, the word taqlîd does not have a pejorative sense. Imitation is necessary at the beginning, it is through imitation that man can attain true certainty and get access to the divine Unity. Only the Imâm of the time leads to the true certainty (Khusraw 1332/1953: 59 line 4 and 60 lines 13-14). The imitation is the starting point in the development of faith. It is necessary to follow the examples of Prophets and Imâms. Abû Hâmid al-Ghazzâlî accused the Ismâ’îlîs of taqlîd (blind imitation) of their Imâms in the Munqidh min al-dâlal, but he seemed to have changed his mind concerning taqlîd in the Mishkât al-anwar. In this last work, he considered science (‘ilm) to be higher than faith (îmân). He defined faith as a pure acceptation through imitation (taqlîd) (Al-Ghazzâlî 1964: 78 lines 17-19).

The Nizârî Ismâ’îlî Abû al-Fath al-Shahrastânî (1) described in his Kitâb al-milal wa al-nihal, Islâm as the starting point, îmân as the middle term and ihsân as the perfection (al-Shahrastânî 1366-1375/1947-1955 vol. 1: 54). In his Majlis, he distinguished five spiritual levels: Islâm (submission), îmân (faith), ihsân (virtue), ‘aql (intellect) which is higher than the religious law (sharî’at), and the level of divine Command (Amr) (al-Shahrastânî 1378HS/1990: 105). Al-Shahrastânî thought that the truth rests upon a theory of equilibrium between predestination (jabr) and free will (qadar) and at the same time between audition (sam’) and intellect (‘aql) (al-Shahrastânî 1378HS/1990: 118, 127). The use of the intellect should remain within the parameters of faith. The harmonisation of human intellect and faith is realised by acting according to the teachings of Prophets and Imâms. The faithful follows the straight path when he realises a perfect equilibrium between his spiritual and material lives. The role of the intellect is to unite both worlds.

At the beginning of his autobiography entitled Sayr wa sulûk, Nasîr al-dîn Tûsî (d. 672/1273) (2) revealed that he was born among a group of people who were followers of the exoteric aspects of the religious law (sharî’at). Gradually he started to realise that whatever he had learned up to that time, was without foundation and he understood that another group must have the truth. He started his quest. He began by studying theology (kalâm), and found that it was entirely dedicated to the exoteric side of the religious law. The theologians used their intellect to promote a religion by accepting without calling the interpretation given by their ancestors into question. By studying kalâm, Nasîr al-dîn Tûsî came to know the divergences between various groups. Then, he noticed that there was a disagreement about whether one could reach the truth through reason (nazar) and intellect (‘aql) or whether one could use these two faculties under the teaching (ta’lîm) of an authentic Teacher (Mu’allim-i sâdiq).

Then Nasîr al-dîn Tûsî started to study philosophy, he found that science to be noble and of great benefit. The intellect becomes the ultimate criteria to figure out the meaning of religion. But he was not fully satisfied by the philosophical method. He found that they had shaky foundations concerning the recognition of the True One and knowledge of the Origin and the Return (Mabda’ wa Ma’âd), because the human intellect is unable to understand the Divine Essence. After a deep reflection, Nasîr al-dîn Tûsî remarked that the truth lays with those who followed the instruction of the Divine Guide, the ta’lîmiyyân, i.e. the Nizârî Ismâ’îlîs. To attain the truth, one must follow a true Teacher (Mu’allim) who is an Agent of perfection (Mukammil) (Tûsî 1335HS/1956 vol. 308: 38 lines 10-11, 39 lines 2-4, lines 10-14, lines 17-18, 39 line 22 to 40 line 2, 40 lines 15-24; Tûsî 1998: 23-29).

In Aklâq-i Nâsirî, Nasîr al-dîn Tûsî placed the people of faith (ahl-i îmân) between the sages (hukamâ’) and the people of assent (ahl-i taslîm). The class of sages have attained knowledge in the true sense (haqîqat-i ma’rifat). The people of faith remain incapable of sheer intellectual knowledge. Lower in rank, the people of assent are incapable even of estimative conceptions and content themselves with imaginative forms (Tûsî 1356/1979: 282-283; Tûsî 1964: 213).


Islâm, like other religions, is a faith of peace, unity, humility, and kindness. Its lustre cannot be obscured, nor its universal message cannot be neglected by non-Muslims. The Qur’ân distinguished clearly between the spiritual level of a mu’min who has faith from the simple Muslim who adheres to Islâm. Faith means to be sure of something and to rely on it without doubt. In a more profound sense, faith is a grace given by God to some Muslims. The mu’min acknowledged the Glory and superiority of God, his own position as God’s servant.

The Shî’ites belong with the Sûfîs (Mystics) to the esoteric branch of Islâm while the Sunnites are part of the exoteric branch. The Shî’ites and the Sûfîs practiced meditation and cultivate love in their heart. Their objective in life is to rise spiritually and become one with God. The Shî’ites follow the guidance of the Imâm whose task is to show them the path (tarîqa) to the truth (haqîqa). The members of the exoteric branch limit their understanding of religion to the practice of religious obligations while the members of the esoteric branch desire to rise spiritually and yearn for freedom (Steigerwald 1999: 179). The Sunnites limit their speculative interpretation and prefer to remain closer to the literal meaning of Qur’ânic verses. The Shî’ites use extensively their intellect to explore all the possible meanings of revelation.

A tradition attributed to the first Imâm’Alî explained that true inner knowing (ma’rifa) which is a grace is part of the real faith. Another tradition attributed to Imâm Ja’far al-Sâdiq distinguished the simple Muslim from the mu’min. The Muslim follows the obligations of the religious law. The mu’min benefits from a true inner knowing while fulfilling his religious obligations. Most of the Shî’ites recognise the necessity to use the human intellect but it cannot alone arrive at full knowledge of God. It must rely on the teaching of the living Imâm. The faithful are the followers of the teaching of the Imâms. Faith consists in profession (qawl), action (‘amal), and intention (niyya). There are many different levels of faith corresponding to different levels of knowledge. The faithful follow the light of science (‘ilm), they use their intellect (‘aql) within the parameters of faith given by the teachings of the Imâms. The mu’min benefits from a light which is a source of spiritual rebirth. The mature faith is manifested through a perfect equilibrium between using the human intellect and listening to the teachings of the Imâms. The only source of real happiness, the only source of peace and light in oneself comes from the faith.


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Tûsî, Nasîr al-dîn

1950 Tasawwurât. Wladimir Ivanow (ed.). Leiden: E.J. Brill.

1335HS/1956 Sayr wa sulûk. Edited by Mudarris Radawî with Majmû’a-yi rasâ’il in Intishârât dânishgâh-i. Tehran.

1998 Sayr wa sulûk. Translated and edited by Jalal Badakhchani in Contemplation and Action. London: I.B. Tauris, 1998.

1356/1979 Aklâq-i Nâsirî. Tehran.

1964 Aklâq-i Nâsirî. Translated by George Michael Wickens in The Nasirean Ethics. London: George Allen & Unwin.


1. For an extensive discussion of al-Shahrastânî’s identity (Ash‘arite or Ismâ‘îlî?) see Steigerwald 1997: 298-307.

2. Nasîr al-dîn Tûsî had passed more than twenty years with the Nizârî Ismâ‘îlîs. Moreover in Sayr wa sulûk, he admitted that he had the great opportunity to enter in the Ismâ`îlî convocation (da‘wat), it would be illogical for him to pretend suddenly to be Ithnâ‘ashriyya just when the Mongol invasion arose, unless he was practising precautionary concealment (taqiyya) of his faith to safeguard his life. In the Tasawwurât, he admitted that he was practising taqiyya. Cf. (Tûsî 1950: 87; see the article on taqiyya in Steigerwald 1998: 39-59).

Published in:

Religious Studies and Theology Vol. 19.1 (2000): 26-39.

One Response to Faith and Intellect — Diana Steigerwald

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Quran, 13:28

ألا بِذِكْرِ اللهِ تَطمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

“Verily! In the remembrance of Allah do hearts find contentment.” - Quran, 13:28

Prophet Muhammad

Prophet Muhammad:

‘Ali is ‘as my own soul’ (ka-nafsi).

He said to ‘Ali, ‘You are from me and I am from you (anta minni wa ana minka).’

‘Truly, ‘Ali is from me and I am from him (inna ‘Ali minni wa ana minhu), and he is the wali (patron/spiritual master) of every believer after me.’

Hazrat Ali

12. When some blessings come to you, do not drive them away through thanklessness.

13. He who is deserted by friends and relatives will often find help and sympathy from strangers.

Imam Ali Sayings

Imam Jaffer Sadiq

لاَ يَكُونُ شَيْءٌ فِي اْلاَرْضِ وَلا فِي السَّمَاءِ إِلاَّ بِهذِهِ الْخِصَالِ السَّبْعِ: بِمَشيئَةٍ وَ إِرادَةٍ وَقَدَرٍ وَقَضَاءٍ وَ إِذْنٍ وَكِتابٍ وَأَجَلٍ. فَمَنْ زَعَمَ أَنَّهُ يَقْدِرُ عَلى نَقْضٍ وَاحِدَةٍ، فَقَدْ كَفَرَ.

“Nothing occurs in this earth and in the heaven except with the following seven stages: Will, intention, destiny, decree, permission, book and implementation. Then whoever thinks that he can reduce any of these stages, then indeed he has disbelieved.”

- Imam Jaffer Sadiq, Usul al Kafi, vol. 1, p. 149

Rumi on Ramadan

The month of fasting has come, the emperor’s banner has arrived; withhold your hand from food, the spirit’s table has arrived. The soul has escaped from separation and bound nature’s hands; the heart of error is defeated, the army of faith has arrived. Fasting is our sacrifice, it is the life of our soul; let us sacrifice all our body, since the soul has arrived as guest. Fortitude is as a sweet cloud, wisdom rains from it, because it was in such a month of fortitude that the Koran arrived. …Wash your hands and your mouth, neither eat nor speak; seek that speech and that morsel which has come to the silent ones.


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99 Beautiful Names

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Aga Khan jokes

Aga Khan Speech Brown University May 1996:

"Looking around this colorful gathering, I recall helping in the choice of the Aga Khan University's regalia. Our research into Islamic traditions of academic dress revealed that an academic's rank determined the height of his hat. The higher the rank, the taller the hat. The senior most professors therefore appeared taller than their students even when sitting down. I have just learnt that my friend Neil Rudenstein, the President of Harvard has given instructions that all Harvard hats are to be heightened by at least a foot. This has caused havoc in the Ivy League which is now debating resolution MAHH96, standing for Maximum Allowable Hat Height. My academic standing and that of President Gregorian, should be evident from the hats that we are presently wearing!"

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