Life – An Exalted Destiny – Aga Khan III
Imam and Imamat — Allama Hunzai
Imam and Imamat
By Prof. Dr. Allama Nasir al Din Nasir Hunzai
In his firman to Surat Jamat on 12th October, 1903, NOOR Mowlânâ Sultân Muhammad Shâh (a.s.) said “If you always read religious books, you will come to know that the throne of Imamat is continuous, perpetual and everlasting.” Therefore, the subjects of Imam and Imamat are of paramount importance for all believers of God.
The verse (36:12) reveals that God has encompassed everything – intellectual, spiritual and physical – in the light of the most noble Imam. Therefore, according to the principles of Qur’anic wisdom, it is clear that all subjects are contained in the subject of Imâmat and all words in the word Imâm. [Source: Recognition of Imam (Imâm – Shinâsi) Part I & II]
Ta’wil of word ‘Itâ’ah’ (Obedience to God, the Prophet and the Imam):
“The holy Prophet said to Hazrat Ali: “He who obeys me, indeed obeys Allah and he who disobeys me, indeed disobeys Allah and he who obeys you, indeed obeys me and he who disobeys you, indeed disobeys me.” (al-Mustradrak, III, 121). This Hadith is an exegesis of verse (4:59) about obedience.” [Source: Tawil 76: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Uli’l-amr’ (The custodians of the Divine commands, the true Imams):
“Verse (4:59) says: “O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger and the ulu’l-amr from amongst you.” That is, in addition to Allah and the Prophet, obedience to the Imam from the progeny of the Prophet, whose Imamat is established from the Qur’an and Hadith, is obligatory. Contrary to this, world kings and rulers cannot be the ulu’l-amr, nor is any example of them found in the age of Prophethood, the ideal age of Islam. In the same surah in verse (4:54) there is mention of giving of the Book, the wisdom and a great kingdom to the Progeny of Ibrahim and here, according to the context of the subject, by progeny of Ibrahim are meant to be Muhammad (s.a.s.) and his progeny.” [Source: Tawil 133: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Imâm’ (Guide):
“The following hadith is about the virtues of the Qur’an: “Indeed, everything has a heart and the heart of the Qur’an is Yâ-Sin (Surah 36)” (Trimidhi, V, 162). One main reason for this title of Yâ-Sin is that the Treasure of the treasures of God is mentioned in it, which is: “And We have encompassed everything in the manifest Imam.” (36:12). That is, God enfolds the universe in the living and present Imam and also unfolds it from him.” [Source: Tawil 106: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Kullu shay’in’ (Everything, all things):
“The wise Qur’an is the perfect and complete Book in whose exoteric and esoteric aspects there is explanation of everything (16:89). The magnificent and unique principle which is the treasure of its heart cannot be praised by us human beings and that universal principle full of quintessence (i.e., the pure, highly concentrated essence) of wisdom is: “And We have encompassed everything in a manifest Imam.” (36:12). That is, all spiritual and intellectual subtle things of the kingdom of God can be found gathered and enfolded in the manifest Imam, provided someone recognizes himself or herself.” [Source: Tawil 732: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Ayat’ (The luminous personality of the Imam in which all signs are encompassed):
“Mawlâ Ali has said: “Anâ âyâtu’llâhi wa aminu’llâh, i.e. I am Allah’s signs and I am the trustworthy of Allah.” (Kawkab, p.208). Âyât in the sense of the signs of Divine power or miracles, are in four places: (i) The higher world, (ii) the wise Qur’ân, (iii) the external universe and (iv) the personal world, but according to the Qur’ân (36:12) all these âyât (signs) are encompassed in the light of the Imâm-i Mubin. That is, his light is the higher world, he is the speaking Qur’ân, the quintessence of the universe and a luminious personal world in true sense.” [Source: Tawil 10: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Ahsâ’ (He has encompassed them):
“It is said in verse (78:29): “And We have encompassed everything in (the form of) a book.” The meaning of everything cannot be complete without intellects and souls, nor can a merely silent book possess all intellectual and spiritual (moving) things. Therefore, it is true to say that this is a description of the speaking book, i.e., the Imâm-i mubîn” [Source: Tawil 33: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Ma’a’l-Qur’ân’ (With the Qur’ân):
“Externally Ali (Imam of the time) is a pure personality and internally a light. Externally, the Qur’ân is a glorious heavenly Book and internally (in the Prophet and the Imam) it is light. This shows that externally Ali and Qur’ân are separate from each other, but internally they are not only together, they are one light.” [Source: Tawil 820: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Ma’a’l-Qur’ân’ (With the Qur’ân):
“It is said in Hadith: “Ali is with the Qur’ân and the Qur’ân is with Ali, they will never separate from each other until they come to me at the pond (of Kawthar).” (Yanâbi, p. 103). The wisdom of this is that Ali (i.e., every true Imam) in his spirituality and luminosity is with the Qur’ân and the Qur’ân in its spirituality and luminosity is with Ali. Thus, the Qur’ân and Ali are one light in spirituality and this oneness will continue until the resurrection takes place and they come to the pond of Kawthar.” [Source: Tawil 819: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Hâdin’ (Guide, Imâm):
“It is said in verse (13:7): “Verily you are a warner, and to every nation (qawm) there is a guide.” (See Shi’i translations and commentaries of the Qurân and the books on the Manâqib of Mawla Ali). From the time of Âdam till the Resurrection of resurrections, the people of every age are a nation and for every nation God has appointed a guide, who is the Imam of the time.” [Source: Tawil 940: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Yastanbitûna’ (They deduce, discover, they do istinbâat):
“Istinbâat primarily means “to dig a well and bring out water for the first time”. Secondarily it is used in the sense of thinking, reflection, to penetrate deeply (Qâmûs, p. 77). For instance, istanbata’sh-shay’ means to reveal a thing from its hidden state.
Verse (4:83), in which it is used, clearly means that after the holy Prophet, it is the ulu’l-amr, the Imams from the progeny of the holy Prophet, who bring out the inner meaning of the Qur’ânic verses, because it is they who know the ta’wil (inner meaning) of the Qur’ân.” [Source: Tawil 980: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Muslimah’ (The community of the pure Imams):
“A true Muslim is the one who submits himself to God. In this sense, Hazrat Ibrâhîm and Hazrat Ismâil prayed: “Our Lord! Make us submitters to You and of our progeny a submitting community (ummatan muslimah) to You (by true obedience).” (2:128). This shows that ummatan muslimah is the community of the pure Imâms who are the progeny of Hazrat Ibrâhîm and Hazrat Ismâil (See Daâ’im, I, 33). ” [Source: Tawil 812: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Madînat al-ilm’ (The city of knowledge):
“It is stated in Hadith: ” I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate, so whoever wants knowledge let him come through the gate.” (Sharh, I, 89). That is, whoever wants the treasures of the knowledge of certainty, the eye of certainty, and the truth of certainty, then it is necessary and imperative for him to enter the city of knowledge of the Prophet by walking in the light of the unprecedented guidance of the Ali of the time.” [Source: Tawil 804: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Ism a’zam’ (Supreme Name of God):
“Imâm Jafar as-Sâdiq has said “Allah has concealed one name, i.e., the supreme Name and He has 360 names.” (Lughât, Sîn, p. 175). The supreme Name or the great secret is in two forms: as a word and as a person. As a word, it is “al-hayyu’l-qayyûm” (the Everliving, the Everlasting) ([Ayatul Kursi] 2:255; 3:2) and as a person it is the True Guide, i.e., the Prophet and the Imam of the time (see Wajh, p. 124-129)” [Source: Tawil 64: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Asmâ’ (The luminous personality of the Imam in which all signs are encompassed):
“It is mentioned in a Hadith: “Indeed, Allah has ninety-nine names. He who memorises their number (and recites them), enters paradise.” (Sarâ’ir, p. 69).
It is not possible to understand the meaning of this Hadith without ta’wil, and the ta’wil is that all other names of God are encompassed in His supreme Name and that supreme Name is the Imam of the time. A mu’min who knows this enters paradise, because this knowledge is tantamount to enumerating His ninety-nine names.” [Source: Tawil 65: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Awliyâ Allah’ (Chosen friends of God):
“In verse (10:62) God says about His friends: “Lo! verily for the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve.” These friends of God are the progeny of the holy Prophet whom God has exalted by granting them the ta’wili miracles of the glorious Qur’ân, because the greatest miracle of the holy Prophet which is intellectual, permanent and in the form of knowledge, is indeed the wise Qur’ân. The Qur’ân has two aspects: tanzil and ta’wil. Tanzil or exoteric aspect was conveyed to the people by the Prophet himself and for ta’wil or esoteric aspect, he appointed his successor.” [Source: Tawil 137: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Ahl adh-dhikr’ (The Pure Imâms):
“Dhikr is one of names of the holy Prophet (65:10-11). The people of dhikr therefore, are the family of the holy Prophet. Dhikr is also one of the names of the Qur’ân (21:50), and so the people of dhikr, are the people of the Qur’ân. Dhikr is also the ism-i azam (supreme Name), i.e., the asmâ’ul-husnâ (the beautiful Names) and therefore, the people of dhikr are the people of ism-i azam, the pure Imâms. Thus, by the people of dhikr are meant the Imâms who guide the people and are enriched with the given knowledge (ilm-i laduni), and therefore, they are able to answer every difficult question related to knowledge.” [Source: Tawil 154: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Ta’wil’ (Hikmat: Wisdom):
“Regarding the Qur’ân, Mawlâ Ali has said: “Its zahir or esoteric aspect is an obligatory act, its bâtin or esoteric aspect is hidden and veiled knowledge which is known to and written with us.” [Source: Tawil 195: A Thousand Wisdoms]
“The Book and the wisdom are mentioned together in mumerous verses of the Qur’ân such as (2:129). In such cases by the Book is meant tanzil (zahir, exoteric) and by wisdom ta’wil (batin, esoteric), as is implied in verse (2:151): “(O the group of Imams!) as We have sent among you a messenger from among you who recites to you Our verses (in spirituality), purifies you and teaches you the Book and the wisdom.” [Source: Tawil 187: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Ta’wil’ (Esoteric Wisdom):
“The day its ta’wil comes, those who were previously forgetful of it will say: “Indeed, the Messengers of our Lord brought the truth (haqq).” (7:53). By the haqq (truth) is meant the walâyat of Ali. Thus, those who had forgotten the ta’wil and the custodian of ta’wil, namely Hazrat Ali, will feel great remorse. (al-haqq = walâyat of Ali, see Sharh, II, 237; Al-Mustadrak (in which is mentioned that the truth is with Ali), III 135).” [Source: Tawil 198: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Marifah’ (Recognition of God):
“It is said in a Hadith: “Recognize Allah by Allah” (Lughât, Ayn, p. 82; Ahadith-i Mathnawi, pp. 2, 106). That is, the recognition of God is possible in the illumination of His light and His light is the holy Prophet and the Imam of the time.” [Source: Tawil 835: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Law lâka’ (If it were not for you):
“It is said in a Hadith-i qudsi: “If it were not for you (O Muhammad), I would not have created the heavens (i.e., universe).” Thus a Prophet so beloved of God has said to Mawlâ Ali: “You are from me and I am from you.” [Source: Tawil 788: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of words ‘An Aliyy’ (Narrated by Ali):
“Mawlâ Ali reports that the holy prophet said: “I am the house of wisdom and ‘Ali is its door.” (Tirmidhi, V, 637).
Question: Which wisdom is mentioned in this Hadith?
Answer: The wisdom of the Qur’ân, the Hadith and spirituality, whose house is the Prophet and whose door, the Ali of the time.” [Source: Tawil 629: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of words ‘Qâla Rasûl Allâh’ (The Messenger of God said):
“The holy Prophet said: “I have left behind among you two weighty things as a rope reaching the earth from heaven, one of them is greater than the other: the Book of Allâh and my itrat (progeny), the people of my house. They will never separate until they will come to me at the pond (of Kawthar).” These two unprecedented and magnificent things, each of which is weightier than the heaven and the earth, or rather the entire universe, are the Qur’ân and its Teacher (the Imam) whom the Prophet appointed as his khalifah or successor. It is they who are the rope of God which is stretched from the heaven to the earth to lift the people of the earth to the heaven (Sharh, X, 481).” [Source: Tawil 669: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Nafs’ (Soul):
“Mawlâ Ali has said: “He who recognizes his soul, indeed recognizes his Lord.” However, it should be noted that the treasure of recognition does not exist in the ordinary human soul until the Holy Spirit is attained from the True Guide. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is in the Imam of the time and he, in reality, is your own soul. If you have recognized the Imam of the time, then you should know that you have recognized yourself and your Lord.” [Source: Tawil 889: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Ati’ni’ (Obey me):
“It is said in a Hadith-i qudsi: “O My servant! Obey me, I will make you like My Image (mithâl = sûrat-i Rahmân) everliving that you will never die, mighty that you will never be humiliated and rich that you will never be needy.” (Arba rasâil Ismâ’iliyyah, p. 15). This is the teaching of the paradise of knowledge and the greatest glad news.” [Source: Tawil 77: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Ta’wil of word ‘Ali’ (Vision of Ali):
“The holy Prophet said: “To look at the face of Ali is worship.” (al-Mustadrak, III, 152-153; Sharh, IX, 381; Kawkab, p. 161). Ali’s vision is worship because of the fact that he is the speaking Qur’ân, the supreme Name, the mazhar of the Divine light, the mirror which shows God and he is the legatee of the holy Prophet. This is why the true lovers yearn for the sacred vision of the Ali of the time with heart and soul.” [Source: Tawil 621: A Thousand Wisdoms]
Nasir al-Din Nasir Hunzai
Allama Nasir ud-Din Nasir (Hub-e-Ali) Hunzai is a writer on Islam, Ismailism and Burushaski language. He was born in 1917 in Hyderabad, a small village of Hunza. In his early childhood he was inclined towards the esoteric meanings of his faith, Islam. He was inspired by the preachings and teachings of Pir Nasir Khusraw. He leads the austere life of a “sufi saint” and is a member of Isma’ili Shi’ism.
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