Section 7 : A Closer Look at the Meaning of Diya-fat Alla-h
 

Almighty Alla-h is referred to in the verses of the Holy Qura-n with different names. Sometimes He is introduced with Huwa (He)[50], sometimes with Alla-h[51], sometimes with Rabb[52] and so on. All these names manifest a certain meaning, which if overlooked may hamper one from understanding the verse perfectly. Authoritative exegetes of Qura-n have alluded to this fine reality in their works[53].

Likewise the Ahl al-Bayt (a), who represent the guardians of Qura-n, and appreciate its kernel, also employ every Divine Name for the purpose of referring to a certain Attribute of Alla-h (SwT). For example, in the aforementioned prophetic tradition the Holy Prophet 7 said: I spend the night near my Lord (inda Rabbi-) Here the name Lord (Rabb) is specifically employed and thus it refers to the aspect of Gods Lordship, an extension of which is to perfect and train the human beings. In addition, it also alludes to his state of perfection in particular. The first person pronoun ya- in Rabbi- () alludes to this subtlety.

Therefore, the food and drink in the tradition must be in harmony with what would confer excellence to the Prophet (s). Obviously in his case we speak of higher excellence, for the path towards Absolute Excellence never ends.

With regard to Diya-fat Alla-h, the name Alla-h is employed. The name Alla-h is an all-comprehensive Name of God which exemplifies all His Perfect Attributes. That is why it is also known as al-ism al-azam (the Greatest Name). Its origin is commonly known to be the transitive verb alaha (he worshipped). Hence it signifies The Worshipped One or One Who is worthy of worship. Consequently, the spiritual food in the month of Ramada-n is one that makes us true worshippers of Almighty Alla-h, those who exemplify all His Sublime Names (al-Asma- al-Husna-) in themselves. In one of his sermons, Ima-m al-Khumayni- alludes to this subtlety saying:

How can we express our gratitude in return for this great Divine Blessing, for the nations have been called to be the guests of Alla-h with all His Names[54]

In other words, the Holy month of Ramada-n is a month of becoming Abdulla-h (an obedient servant of Alla-h (SwT)). It is a month of adopting the etiquette of Alla-h (SwT) in the language of tradition or adopting the Divine Color in the language of the Holy Qura-n. The Holy Qura-n says:



Alla-hs Color; and whose color is more pleasant than Alla-hs; and He alone do we worship.[55]

And the Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have said:

.


Adopt the etiquette of Alla-h.[56]

In fact one of the wonderful supplications taught to us by Ima-m Ba-qir al-Ulu-m (a) is Dua al-Muba-hilah, in which what we seek are the Beautiful Attributes of Alla-h.

Alla-mah Taba-taba-i-, the mentor of leading contemporary authorities in irfa-n, would highly emphasize on reading this dua-, for, he would say, there is no mention of Paradisal men or women in it. Observe the following verses of this radiant supplication:

Dž


O Alla-h I seek from You the kind of Your Brilliance (baha-ika-) which is the Most Brilliant, and every Brilliance of Yours is Very Brilliant; O Alla-h I ask You by Your Brilliance in its entirety.O Alla-h I seek from You the kind of Your Greatness which is the Greatest, and every Greatness of Yours is very Great; O Alla-h I ask You by Your Greatness in its entirety[57]

The contemporary mystic-scholar Ayatulla-h Hasan Za-deh Amuli in his treatise Light upon Light while enumerating the requirements of observing good manners in front of Almighty Alla-h, says:

Observing etiquette before Alla-h also requires that you do not seek other than Him, for that is the worship of the free men (ahra-r) and lovers (ahba-b). Such a supplication originates from the exalted aspiration of the servant of God. Those who are lower than this station, ask for their needs according to their lower stages. One of our mentors (may Alla-h be pleased with him) would encourage us to read supplications like Dua- al-Sahar [another name for dua- al-muba-hilah] of Hadrat Ima-m al-Ba-qir (a): (O Alla-h I seek from You the kind of Your Brilliance which is the Most Brilliant) wherein there is Divine Brilliance, Beauty, Majesty, Greatness, Light, Mercy, Knowledge, Nobility, but no mention about Paradisal damsels (hu-r) or heavenly youthful male servants (ghilma-n). If Paradise is sweet, the Creator of Paradise is sweeter.

Why is the abstinent after Paradise?

Why is he oblivious of the Creator of Paradise?[58]

Later in the same treatise this great mystic quotes Misba-h al-Shari-ah, a masterpiece on the secrets of worship attributed to Ima-m al-Sa-diq (a), saying:

.


Ima-m al-Sa-diq (a) said: Indeed I called Alla-h and He responded to me, and I forgot my wish, for His Response by giving attention to His servant when he calls upon Him is greater and more magnificent than what the servant wants from Him, even if that be Paradise and its eternal blessings, but none save the Knowledgeable Ones comprehend- those who are worshipful, the Divine lovers, Gnostics, Alla-hs choicest and special servants.[59]

We can also say that since the Holy Prophet (s) was a perfect manifestation of an obedient slave of Alla-h (SwT), this month is a month of getting closer to the Holy Prophet (s) too. Leading mystics have clearly stated that the Holy Prophet (s) is a manifestation of the Greatest Name of God - Alla-h (SwT), which means that he manifests in himself all the Divine Attributes. In other words he is Abd of Alla-h. We also bear witness to this during every prayer:



I bear witness that Muhammad is His Obedient Servant and Messenger.

The Infallible Ima-ms of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) likewise personify the Divine Attributes. Ima-m Ali- (a) is reported to have said:

... ...


We (the Ahl al-Bayt) are the Most Beautiful Names of Alla-h by which when Almighty Alla-h is asked, He Responds.[60]

And it is also reported from Ima-m al-Ba-qir (a) that:

.


We are the Most Beautiful Names of Alla-h, and without knowing us, Alla-h does not accept any deed of His servants.[61]

In a sermon which he delivered on the first day of the Holy month of Ramada-n, Ima-m Ali- (a) while addressing the fasting ones said:

. ...


O you who are fasting, reflect on your affair, for surely you are a guest of your Lord in this month; observe how your attitude is during the night and day, and how you protect the members of your body from disobeying your Lord; and make sure that you do not sleep through the night and be heedless during the day, so that your month ends while your burden still remains on your shoulders, such that when the fasting ones are paid their due, you are among the losers, and while they enjoy prosperity in the neighborhood of their Lord, you are from the expelled ones[62]

Here one can see that the name Rabb is employed, signifying that this invitation deals with training the human being so that he may attain his perfection.

If one was to carefully ponder over what is obligatory and highly recommended in this holy month, he would realize that Alla-h (SwT) out of His overflowing Mercy compelled the human beings to fast and encouraged them to pray so that they may overhaul themselves and start the journey to Alla-h (SwT). Fasting weakens the animal passions and thereby enables the spirit to focus its attention toward the spiritual realms.

In the aforesaid sermon, Ima-m Ali- (a) enlightens us with guidelines that would enable us to appreciate and benefit from the Divine invitation of the Holy month of Ramada-n. Briefly, he tells us to be careful and not to waste its days in negligence (ghaflah) and its nights in sleep (nawm), for they are opportunities for us to elevate our spirits. If we are not able to appreciate the highest level of this invitation, which some mystics consider as the banquet, we should at least struggle to appreciate the lower levels, which in reality serve as introductory phases for the highest level. And the path towards appreciating the different levels of the Divine Banquet is fasting. The level of fasting, however, is what would determine the level of Divine Reception. Muslim ethicians classify the levels of fasting into three[63]:

1. Sawm al-Umu-m (the general fast);
2. Sawm al-Khusu-s (the specific fast);
3. Sawmu Khusu-s al-Khusus (the most specific fast).

Notes:

[50] Holy Qura-n, 112:1.
[51] Holy Qura-n, 2:255.
[52] Holy Qura-n, 1:2.
[53] This can be tangibly observed in the excellent exegesis of Alla-mah Taba-taba-is Tafsi-r al-Mi-za-n.
[54] Sahi-feye Ima-m, vol. 18, pg. 497.
[55] Holy Qura-n, 2:138.
[56] Sharh Dua- al-Saba-h, pg. 87.
[57] Mafa-ti-h al-Jina-n, pg. 184.
[58] Nu-run ala- Nu-r, pg. 80.
[59] Nu-run ala- Nu-r, pg. 81.
[60] Madi-nat al-Maa-jiz, vol. 1, pg. 556 .
[61] al-Mukhtasar, pg. 129.
[62] Fada-il al-Ashhur al-Thala-thah, pp. 107-108.
[63] Many scholars of ethics have adopted this classification. Those familiar with Arabic/Persian literature can refer to vol. 2 al-Mahajjah of al-Ka-sha-ni- and Asra-r al-Hikam (vol. 2, pg. 568) of Mulla- Ha-di- Sabzwa-ri-.