Section 5 : Spiritual Food

These examples inform us that Alla-hs (SwT) special invitation does not always concern material satisfaction. The food that Alla-h (SwT) serves in the aforementioned specific invitations are spiritual. In fact in some traditions the word taa-m[39] is translated as spiritual food. Consider the following:

In chapter Abasa [80:24], Almighty Alla-h says:

Then let man look at his food.[40]

Under this holy verse, the Shiite exegete Sayyid Ha-shim Bahra-ni-, in his Tafsi-r al-Burha-n quotes a tradition narrated by Thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni- in al-Ka-fi [v.1, p.39, tr.8] from Ima-m al-Sa-diq (a) as follows:

Zayd al-Shahha-m asks Ima-m (a) what mans food stands for in the verse above. The Ima-m (a) responds saying:


It refers to the knowledge that he acquires, and its source.

The Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have said:


I spend the night near my Lord, and He feeds me and quenches my thirst.

Commenting on this prophetic tradition, Sayyid Ali- Kha-n al-Madani- in his magnum opus, Riya-d al-Sa-liki-n says:

( ) ɡ ɡ

And it is known that the Prophets food near his Lord is not of the kind of animal food, nor is his drink like the drinks that we see before us. Indeed what is meant here is only the taa-m (food) of knowledge and the shara-b (drink) of gnosis (marifah).[41]

Alla-mah Majlisi- also, commenting on this tradition says in his Oceans of Lights:

... ...

and undoubtedly that drink is nothing but Divine gnosis, love, and seeking illumination through the lights of the hidden realm[42]

The infinitive noun shurb also, which is commonly translated as drinking does not literally mean to drink. Drinking is only a material extension of shurb- which literally denotes to convey to ones inside[43] be that by drinking[44] or otherwise.

The Holy Qura-n for example, uses shurb for the polytheists who inclined to the worship of a cow after Prophet Mu-sa- (a) went to be the special guest of Alla-h (SwT), in the following way:

and their hearts had been imbued with [the love of] the Calf, due to their faithlessness.[45]

Observe that the word ushribu- is employed which does not connote any kind of material intake of drink.

Ima-m al-Sajja-d (a) in his supplication against Satan says:

O Alla-h, saturate our hearts with the rejection of his works and be gentle to us by destroying his stratagems![46]

And in his supplication of Arafah he (a) says:

Drench my heart with Your obedience when intellects are distracted[47]

And Ima-m Ali- (a) is reported to have said:

() ǡ ǡ ǡ ǡ ǡ ǡ ǡ ǡ ǡ .

Indeed Alla-h has a wine for His friends, which if they drink, they get intoxicated, and when they get intoxicated, they get overjoyed, and when they get overjoyed they get pleasant, and when they get pleasant, they melt down, and when they melt down, they get pure, and when they get pure, they seek, and when they seek, they find, and when they find they reach, and when they reach, they unite, and when they unite there is no difference between them and their lover.[48]


[39] The verb taima literally stands for he tasted.
[40] Holy Qura-n, 80:124.
[41] Riya-d al-Sa-liki-n, vol. 1, pg. 280.
[42] Biha- r al-Anwa-r, vol. 6, pg. 208.
[43] al-Tahqi-q fi- Kalima-t al-Qura-n al-Kari-m, vol. 6, pg. 30.
[44] EW Lane, EW Lane Arabic-English Lexicon, see under the root word shi-n ra- ba-.
[45] Holy Qura-n, 2:93.
[46] Ima-m al-Sajja-d (a), Sahi-fat al-Sajja-diyyah (Eng. Edition), sup. 17, pg. 63.
[47] Ima-m al-Sajja-d (a), Sahi-fat al-Sajja-diyyah (Eng. Edition), sup. 47, pg. 185.
[48] This tradition has been narrated by many authorities in mysticism such as Mulla- Ha-di- Sabzawa-ri- in his Sharh al-Asma- (pg. 534), Ayatulla-h Hasan Zadeh Amuli- in his Nu-r ala- Nu-r (pg. 89), Mawla- Nara-qi- in his Ja-mi al-Saa-da-t (vol. 3, pg. 152).