Tenth Principle: The explanation of matters that are regarded as exaggeration concerning riwayahs about the merits and rewards of some actions or their evilness.
TENTH PRINCIPLE: Like with most of the other sorts of creatures, among mankind are certain individuals who are extraordinary by virtue of their acts and deeds. If those individuals have advanced in good deeds, they have been the cause of pride of mankind. Otherwise, they have been the cause of their shame. Also, they are hidden. It is as though each becomes a collective identity, an imaginary goal. Other individuals try to emulate them, and it is possible. That means, being absolute and indefinite, it is possible for such a perfect, extraordinary person to be present everywhere. In regard to this indefiniteness, according to logic, his universality may be posited in the form of a possible proposition. That is, it is possible for all acts to produce the following result: for example, “Whoever performs two rak’ats of prayers at such and such a time has performed the equivalent of the Hajj.”1 It is thus the truth that at certain times two rak’ats of prayers may be the equivalent of a Hajj. Due to its universality, this meaning may apply to all prayers of two rak’ats. That means what narrations of this sort refer to is not in fact continuous and universal, because since there are conditions of acceptance, it disallows it being continuous and universal. It is either in fact temporary and absolute or possible and universal. That is to say, the universality in this sort of Hadith is in regard to possibility. For example, “Backbiting is like murder.”2 This means, someone who indulges in backbiting is more harmful than deadly poison, like a killer. And for example, “A good word is a deed so good it is like freeing a slave.”3
Here, in order to encourage and restrain, it points out the possibility of that indefinite perfect individual being present everywhere in absolute form as though it is actually the case, thus arousing eagerness for good and disgust for evil. Furthermore, the things of the eternal world cannot be measured on the scale of this world. The greatest thing here is not equal to the least thing there. Because the merits of actions look to that world, our worldly view is narrow for them. We cannot fit them into our minds. For example, Whoever reads this is given the reward of Moses and Aaron. That is to say:
All praise be to Allah, Sustainer of the heavens and Sustainer of the earth * Sustainer of all the worlds, His is the might in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. * All praise be to Allah, Sustainer of the heavens and Sustainer of the earths, * Sustainer of all the worlds, and His is the sublimity in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. * And His is the dominion, Sustainer of the heavens, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.
What has most attracted the attention of the unfair and the unthinking is narrations like these. The reality of the matter is this:
With our narrow mind and short views in this world, we know how much we imagine the the rewards of Moses and Aaron (Peace be upon them) to be. The reward the Absolutely Compassionate One will give to one of His infinitely needy servants in the world of eternity and everlasting happiness, in return for a single invocation may be equal to the reward of those two, but equal to the rewards as we conceive of them and surmise them to be.
For example, there is a primitive, uncouth man who has never seen the king and does not know the majesty of his rule. He imagines a lord in a village, and with his limited ideas thinks of the king as a more exalted version of the lord. Long ago with us even, there was a simple-minded tribe who used to say: “Our lord knows what the Sultan does as he cooks his bulgur soup on his stove in a saucepan.” That is to say, they imagined the Sultan in such a narrow situation and so common a form that he cooked his own wheat soup; they supposed him to have the majesty of a captain. Now, if someone was to say to one of that tribe: “If you do this work for me today, I’ll give you as much majesty as you think the Sultan has, and give you a rank as high as a captain.” To say that is right, because, of the majesty of kingship, what enters the narrow bounds of his ideas is only the majesty of a captain.
Thus, with our worldly views and narrow minds, we cannot think as much as that primitive man of the true rewards which look to the hereafter. It is not the equivalent of the true rewards of Moses and Aaron (Peace be upon them), for according to the rule of similes and comparisons, the unknown is compared to the known; the true reward, which is unknown, for an invocation of one of Allah’s believing servants is compared with the rewards that we know and surmise. Moreover, the surface of the sea and the heart of a droplet are equal when it comes to holding the complete reflection of the sun. The difference is only in quality. The nature of the reward reflected in the mirrors of the ocean-like spirits of Moses and Aaron (Peace be upon them) is exactly the same in nature as the reward that a believing servant, who is like a droplet, receives from a Qur’anic verse. They are the same in nature and quantity, while their quality is dependent on capacity.
Also, it sometimes happens that a single word, a single glorification, opens a treasury of happiness that was not opened with sixty years of service. That is to say, it sometimes happens that a single verse may be as beneficial as the Qur’an. Also, the Divine effulgence which Allah’s Noble Messenger (PBUH), who manifested the Greatest Name, received from a single verse, may have been as much as all the effulgence one of the other prophets received. And it would not be contrary to the truth if it is said that a believer who through ‘the legacy of prophethood’ manifests the shadow of the Greatest Name, receives, in accordance with his own capacity and in regard to quantity, a reward as great as a prophet’s effulgence. Furthermore, reward and merit are from the world of light, and one world from that world may be contained in a speck. Just as the heavens and all its stars may appear in a tiny fragment of glass, so luminous reward and merit like the heavens may be situated in an invocation or verse which acquires transparency through pure intention.
Conclusion: O unfair, unthinking, self-centred, cavilling man whose belief is weak and philosophy, strong! Consider these Ten Principles, then do not make the pretext a narration you thought was contrary to the truth and definitely opposed to reality, and point the finger of objection at Hadiths thus casting aspersions on the Noble Messenger’s (PBUH) sinlessness! Because, firstly, these Ten Principles and what they entail will make you forego denial; they say: “If there is any real fault, it is ours,” it may not be referred to the Hadiths. They say too: “If the fault is not real, it springs from your misunderstanding.” In short; if one embarks on denial and rejection, one first has to deny these Ten Principles and show them to be false. Now, if you are fair, after pondering over these Ten Principles with due attention, do not attempt to deny a Hadith your reason considers contrary to the truth! Say, “There is either an explanation, or an interpretation, or an exegesis of this,” and do not criticize it.
1. Kanz al-‘Ummal, vii, 808; Tabarani, al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, 7740.
2. Musnad al-Firdaws, iii, 116, 117.
3. al-Manzari, al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, iii, 421, 434; Kanz al-‘Ummal, iii, 589.
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