Wila '-tasarruf (free universal determina- tion), or spiritual wila', is the highest of the stages of wilayah. The other kinds of wilayah are either connected to the degree of nearness to the Prophet, to the abundance of the loftiness of the degree of purity, or to the stature of an individual of the Household, or else they are connected to their social or cognitive knowledge.
That which has been designated by the word wilayah in the two last sections did not stretch beyond the limits of legislation and adminis- tration, although the origin an d foundation of the philosophy behind this administration is social and cognitive authority. However, wila' -tasarruf, or spiritual wila' is a kind of extra- ordinary creative ability and mastery. First we must see what the meaning and semantics of wilayah-tasarruf are, and what the ideas of those who believe in it are.
The concept of creative wilayah, from one angle, is connected with hidden faculties in this creature who appeared on the face of the earth with the name of man, and with accomplish- ments which this amazing creature is potentially capable of, and which he can bring up to the level of action. From another angle, it is con- nected with the relationship of this creature to Allah. The purpose of creative wilayah is that man, as a result of travelling on the way of sub- mission, achieves the station of Divine nearness, any the result of his arrival at the station of nearness, naturally to the higher stages of it, that is, human spirituality, which is itself truth and reality, becomes the leader of the caravan of spirituality, the commander of the hearts, the testifier of actions and the Proof of the Age (Hujjatu 'z-zaman). The earth is never void of a wali, who is the bearer of this spiritual- ity; or, using a different expression, of the The Kinds of Wila' in Its Positive Sense Perfect Man (al-Insanu l-kamil ).
Wilayah in this meaning is different from prophethood, different from the caliphate, different from guardianship (wilayah), and different from the Imamate when it has the meaning of an authority in the commandments of the din. Its difference from prophethood, the caliphate and guardianship is an absolute one, but from Imamate it has a conceptual and mentally creative difference.
The meaning of its difference from prophet- hood, the caliphate and guardianship being abso- lute is not that everyone who became a prophet, a caliph or guardian was not a wali, rather, it means that prophethood, and also the caliphate and guardianship are realities different from wilayah. Notwithstanding this, the great proph- ets, and especially their Seal, were possessors of universal Divine wilayah.
And the meaning of its difference from Imamate being mentally-created is that there is only one station. Considering it from one direction it is called Imamate, and from another direction it is called wilayah. But the meaning of Imamate is a wide one. Imamate means leadership, but an authority in the command- ments of the din is a leader; a political and social Wilayah - The Station of the Master leader is also a leader; and a teacher of the inner self, a spiritual guide, is also a leader for the innermost heart.
From the Shi`ite point of view, from which the question of wilayah is under consideration, it can be viewed from three aspects; and in each of the three aspects the word Imamate has been used.
Firstly, from the political point of view, who was the person who most merited and was fittest to assume the place of the Prophet in social and political leadership of the Muslims? And who had to be the leader (za`im) of the Muslims after the Prophet? There is also the fact that the Prophet, on behalf of Allah, appointed `Ali to that social position. This point of view, in the present instance, has a historical and dogmatic aspect, and is not being looked at from the point of view of pure knowledge. Secondly, as far as the commandments of the din are concerned, on whom does the authority for reference fall? And in which way has this person acquired his knowledge? And is this person incapable of erring as far as the commandments are concerned, or not? This aspect has a dogmatic side to it as well as being a question of knowledge.
Thirdly, from the point of view of the spirit and the inner self, the Shi`ite view is that at all times there is no Perfect Man who has the power of penetrating what is hidden, and he is a witness for the spirits, the souls and the hearts, and he has a kind of creative control over the world and over man. He is always in existence, and for this reason he is called hujjah - proof, guarantee. As was said, the ayah: "The Prophet has a greater claim on the believers than they have on themselves" (33:6) is not very far from this subject, and it also bears witness to this meaning of wilayah. The meaning of wilayah-tasarruf or creative wilayah is not what some ignoramuses have supposed, namely, that one man from humanity obtained the position of guardianship and protectorship with regard to the world in such a way that he becomes the turner of the earth and the heavens, the creator, the sustainer, the life -giver, and the bringer of death on behalf of Allah.
Although Allah arranged the world accord- ing to the regularity of cause and effect, and although creatures which the Qur'an calls angels were, by Allah's permission, "those who regu- late the affair" (79:5) and "the partitioners" Wilayah -The Station of the Master (51:4), this consideration is in no way contra- dictory with Allah's not taking a partner in His supreme authority and creative power: and, similarly, it does not contradict the fact that no being can ever be deemed a wali in the sense of a companion or an assistant to Allah or even a tool or instrument of Allah.
Who has not any associate in the Kingdom, nor any protector to save Him from dis- grace; and magnify Him with repeated magnificats (17 :111) . The relationship of the created to the Creator is not anything other than createdness, absolute dependence and nothingness. The Qur'an, in the same way as it makes Allah known to the highest limit of self-sufficiency, and in the same way as it says, for examples; Allah takes the souls at the time of their death (39:42).
The Kinds of Wila in Its Positive Sense also proclaims: Say: `Death's angel, who has been charged with you, shall gather you " (32 :11) . Those whom the angels take while still they are wronging themselves (16 :28). The Qur'an, at the same time as it says; My Lord is Guardian over everything (11:57).
He sends recorders over you till, when anyone of you is visited by death, Our messenger takes him (6:61) .
In this ayah, He distinguishes the prophets both as guardians and also as takers of souls. So, from the point of view of tawhid (Divine Unity), there is nothing preventing the existence of means, or the ascribing of the carrying out of commands to other than Allah, but by the permission of Allah and by the will of Allah, in such a way that those who carry out and execute are themselves the very command and will of the Lord.
At the same time, good Islamic thinking first of all requires that we do not associate the creation, and giving and taking of life, and instances of these, to other than Allah; because the Qur'an forces us to pierce through the ways and the means and to gain access to the original source, to turn our attention to Him Who ac- complishes the labour of the whole world, to see that the means are His creation, the execu- tion of His command, and the manifestation of His wisdom. Secondly, the order of the universe is, from the point of view of means, a special order which Allah created, and man will never, as the result of his own evolution, take the place of any of the means of Divine bounty. Rather, he himself will take the bounty through these very means; that is to say, an angel will inspire The Kinds of Wila' in Its Positive Sense him, and an angel will become an agent of his preservation, and an agent of the taking away of his soul. And yet at the same time it is poss- ible that the station of nearness and freedom of existence of that man be sometimes higher and greater than that of the angel who is an agent for him.
Another matter is that we cannot exactly determine the limits of the wilayah-tasarruf, or creative wilayah of a perfect or comparatively perfect man. That is to say that all the indica- tions of the Qur'an and the knowledge that we have verified, in short, the arrival of man at a level at which his will has a determining control over the universe; but to what extent? Is there no limit, or is there a restriction to the extent? This is a matter which is outside our present undertaking.
The third matter which it is necessary to mention is that wilayah-tasarruf is a question of a degree of obedience which has become entirely cleared of material thoughts. This power is not a power which we call a desire of the heart, or a function of the mind, or someone's willful desire. Basically, a man who is still con- demned to the thoughts and desires of his fancy is deprived of such wonders. In a man who is pure to this extent, his will is never excited by the beginning and preliminaries that excite our will; his will is excited by inward stimulation and beckonings from the unseen. But how and what is the nature of this stimulation and beckoning we do not know, and so such a man "sometimes sits in the highest heaven" and "sometimes does not see as far as his instep. ,21 However, according to what was revealed in the ayah of the Qur'an;
Say: I have no power to profit for myself, or hurt (7: 188). it is clear that this means that the original power for all profit and hurt is Allah, and that my ability to profit and hurt myself is also from Allah, not from myself. Anyway, how could it be possible for other men to be, within limits, the masters of their profit and hurt, and for the Prophet to be even less so than other men. It was necessary to raise these three points in the introduction to the discussion of creative wilayah. Since there has been less discussion on this subject, and, moreover, since there are a The Kinds of Wila' in Its Positive Sense number of assertions which stimulate interest and which we shall put forward on this topic, we shall extend the discussion about this matter a little further.
We confess that the acceptance of wilayah in this meaning is a little difficult; believing in it is not without its problems, especially since, for our level of understanding, so many expla- nations for such problems are not satisfying. From time to time people expose the diffi- culties of the problem and the way in which it is rejected in this manner: "At present, with all the urgent and pressing problems that there are for Muslims, what is the necessity of intro- ducing such difficulties as to whether the Prophet and the Imams have wilayah-tasarruf or not?" Some others bring forth their objec- tions and difficulty in another manner which has a religious colouring, and they say that this is an exaggeration, and it is believed to be a super-human, semi-divine degree for a man to have: it associates the work of Allah with what is other than Allah, so it is shirk (associ- ating with Allah) and is in opposition to the first Islamic fundamental which is tawhid.
The fact of the matter is that we cannot either accept or refute a matter just by our- selves; whether a concept entails shirk or con- forms to tawhid is not a matter for our desire or free-will, so that anything we want to stick the word tawhid onto we can. There are many precise criteria in the Qur'an and from the proofs of reason. Islamic teachings on matters concerned with shirk and tawhid emanate from the summit and the highest-degree of self- mastery, beyond the conceptualization of the ordinary individual. The question of whether one matter is more urgent and more pressing than another is also a fundamental matter, but it is not the only criterion of necessity that one matter in one epoch is discussed more, and so more people have the impression of its necessity. It is a mistake if we always imagine that the impressions of necessity are the same as the necessities themselves.
To what extent the Qur'an emphasizes a matter in the presentation of a problem and in its teaching is in itself a criterion which must at all times be something to be made use of. The problem of creative wilayah is one of the problems associated with man and human powers. The Qur'an lends great importance to man, human powers and the extraordinary aspects of his nature, and, in discussions which The Kinds of Wila' in Its Positive Sense we shall, insha' Allah, set forth in our book Man in the Qur'an 22 , we shall deal with this subject.
Here, it is sufficient that we give a sum- mary indication of this problem and make clear the foundations of this idea, with attention to the meaning and understanding of the Qur'an; so that the ordinary person should not imagine that this is, so to speak, an "occult " subject. With this kind of problem, which may sometimes seem irrelevant to our understanding, we get nearer to the truth if we find fault with- in ourselves rather than if we reject the matter.
There is no doubt that the subject of wila- yah in its fourth meaning belongs to gnosis (`irfan) , but it has not been proved that since something belongs to gnosis, it must be declared null and void. This matter belongs to gnosis, which, from the point of view of Shi`ism, is also an Islamic matter. Shi'ism is a school of Islam, and `irfan is a way; at this point this school and this way (irresective of the super- stitions with which the latter is cluttered) coin- cide with one another. And if, necessarily, it is agreed that it be said that one of these two was derived from the other, by the verdict of indisputable historical circumstances it is defi- nicely `irfan which produced an adaptation of Shi`ism and not the other way round. In any case, we shall explain the foundations and bases of this consideration in an abridged form.
The most important problem which must be dealt with in this area is the problem of nearness and approach to Allah. We know that in Islam, perhaps in every revealed religion, the spirit of the precepts which must be carried out is a determination to `approach near', and the extreme result which can be attained through action is proximity to the essence of Oneness. So we shall begin the discussion itself with the meaning and understanding of `nearness'.