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Majalis-ul Muayyadiya - by Al Muayyad fid-din Shirazi
Life and Lectures of Al Muayyad fid-din Shirazi
Contents Lectures 1 through 20 of the Majlis
Lecture 7 - The Soul is Ascending
O Momins, may God make you familiar with the knowledge of truth and may He preserve you from the mischievous instigation of the devil and the vicious influence of the hypocrites. God says in His holy book, "Is the one who walks crawling on his face better guided or the one who walks upright on the straight path?" It is said that to walk crawling on the face is the peculiar characteristic of the lower animals whose face is always fixed on the ground to look for food and water. By their very nature they are meant for a lower life. They live on the lowest products of earth and when they die they are reduced to nothing but dust.
There are some human beings that are lower animals in human form. Although they are upright in stature, they are animals in the disguise of human beings. They are inclined to nothing more than eating and drinking. They are over-powered by their animal nature and are ignorant of the higher powers of their souls.
You have been told in the previous Lecture that after breathing the air of this world and enjoying the food and water of this world man will never like to go back to his mother's womb and live in a filthy atmosphere. A poet says "To eat and drink and to live like animals in my opinion is a disgraceful thing. (This is what I thought) when I was in the prime of youth. How can I think otherwise when death is staring me in the face? Sweet water is meant for me and yet I am sinking in the saltiest waters. You see the human soul wide awake only when it sees its well-pampered body lying in the grave."
The poet looks upon eating and drinking as the peculiar characteristic of the lower animals. He did not attach himself to these things. Had he not been forced to eat and drink, he would never have had recourse to them. A philosopher says, "We eat to live but we do not live to eat." With regard to the poet's complaint, that, though he had plenty of sweet water, he was sinking in the saltiest water, by sweet water he means the higher regions which are within the reach of the soul and by sinking in the saltiest water he means his connection with this filthy world. The holy Qur'an says, "God has let flow two bodies of water. One of them is sweet and drinkable and the other is salty and bitter. He has put a partition, a barrier between the two which does not allow the waters to mix up." The ‘sufees' who are men of truth and the men of purity interpret these two bodies of water as the ‘shariat' and ‘haqiqat'. They say that the external side of the religious laws, which are based on ‘taqlid', a mere following, stand for a body of salty water. ‘Haqiqat' which is the unfolding of our religious laws in conformity with the dictates of our intellects and the aspirations of the soul is a river of sweet water. Though these rivers are close to each other, God has kept a barrier between the two and does not allow overlying each other. This is one explanation. Others say that one of these rivers stands for our dark, dingy variable life on each other and the second river stands for the holy regions, the world of angels. The barrier between the two is our earthly form. If we can rise above this earthly form then the soul will fly back to its Lord. God says in the holy Qur'an,"O peaceful soul, come back to your Lord satisfied with your lot. Mix up with my devotees and enter My ‘jannat'."
The last lines of the poet, in which he says that the human soul keeps awake only when it finds its pampered body in the grave, correspond to the saying of our Prophet, "Men are asleep. When they die they will be awake."
Let me remind you what I have said in my previous ‘Majalis' that God addresses mankind in general. His address is meant both for people of higher intellect and for the people of feeble intellect. He has appointed the ‘Arabab-e-taweel' to explain in detail and make clear the points, which cannot easily be understood even by the people who have reached the highest intellectual level. They lead the people from the perceptible to the imperceptible and reveal to them the truth. Those who are intelligent and attentive understand the matter and those who persist in their ignorance continue to remain ignorant and expect to rise on the Day of Resurrection with their present bodies indulging in eating and drinking.
We repeat what we have said before that the human body is inseparable from variability and its need for eating and drinking and for the evacuation of its bowels. If these people maintain that the body will be free from its natural requirements, then it ceases to be a body. If they think that there can be a human body separated from its bowels, its veins and its nerves and its flesh and blood they will be roving in madness. They talk of things, which do not appeal to reason.
This much is enough as a refutation of the arguments of those who believe in the rise in the next world along with their bodies.
There is a party from among the Shias who are a disgrace to the Shia sect and who are a blot in the ‘shariat'. They maintain that men come again and again in this world. They believe that there is no such thing as the second world. This is the only place where man is rewarded and punished according to his deeds. They believe that the ‘hoories' and the boy-servants and the ‘jannat' are all here. He who eats and drinks well and derives pleasure from them to the fullest extent is in ‘jannat'. He who does not get enough to eat and drink is in hell. They talk of the ‘naskh', ‘maskh', ‘faskh' and ‘raskh'. By ‘naskh' they mean the shifting of the soul from one human being into another. By ‘maskh' they mean the changing of a human being into a monkey, a pig or some such low animal. By ‘faskh' they mean the shifting of the human soul into the bodies of snake, scorpions and earthworms. By ‘raskh' they mean the changing of human beings into stones and minerals.
These nonsensical beliefs of theirs cannot stand the test of reason. With regard to the shifting of the human soul from one human body into another, it looks an absurdity. There is no sense in destroying one body and building another, which is exactly similar to it. This does not speak of the wisdom of our Creator.
With regard to their saying that those who derive pleasure from eating and drinking are in a paradise on earth, we have made it clear to you before, that eating and drinking are defensive weapons against the feelings of discomfort of hunger and thirst. What we call pleasure is nothing but relief from discomfort. To stand always in need of the use of these defensive weapons is not a reward but a punishment. God says in His holy book, "They will not experience death in the ‘jannat', excepting the one, which they have experienced only once." Their saying that ‘One will experience death after death' shows nothing but lack of intelligence.
With regard to the form of punishment which they believe is experienced in this world by ‘maskh', faskh' and ‘raskh', they forget that the lower animals whose goal of life is nothing but eating and drinking are quite happy in this own way. Our children who in the stage of childhood behave like lower animals and are incapable of thinking ahead are quite happy in the world they live in. They eat, drink and play and there is nothing to worry them. It is said that once a philosopher stood gazing a group of children who were playing in a sprightly manner. He remarked, "Ever since I have passed this stage, I have never experienced pleasure again." A writer says, "Increase of intelligence means an increase of worries." Another write says, "The beasts of burden carry the loads of worries on their hearts." Again, since the lower animals have no thinking power and do not think of life and death as we do, one life on earth is enough for enjoyment, if it is at all an enjoyment.
In short, this is a stupid belief. May God protect us from the influence of such people with the help of our spiritual heads, the Imams. I stop this discussion here. I do not think it necessary to prolong the matter.
Let us revert to the explanation of the Qur'anic verse, "We have created the heavens and earth and what is in between the two in six days and it caused us no trouble." The verse needs a thorough understanding. We people whose powers are limited do need time for making things, but God whose powers are unlimited needs no fixed period for the creation of heavens and earth. God Himself says in another passage in the holy Qur'an, "Whatever We command, We do at once like a twinkling of the eye." This being the case with God, what need has He to take a particular period of time for the creation?
Besides, the days are known by the sunrise and sunset. How can six days be counted when there was no sky, no earth and no sun to rise and set? These commentators who stick to the literal meaning of the words when they get stuck up in the explanation of these things neither prove their points by arguments nor do they seek the guidance of the Imams in this matter. They make a foolish assertion that the period was exactly six days.
At the next ‘Majalis' we shall offer you the explanation with conclusive proofs based on our religion. We stop the ‘Majalis' here. May God guide you and keep you away from the influence of those whose self-conceit has prompted them to reject our interpretation.
Contents Lectures 1 through 20 of the Majlis
Another article on Al Muayyad by Mohamed Adra
Poetry by Al Muayyad
Al Muayyad's protege Nasir Khusraw
Poetry by Nasir Khusraw
Ismaili Heroes Check out the Al Muayyad Section
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