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Knowledge, Faith, and the Awakened Soul

Knowledge and faith combine to awaken the soul.Knowledge and faith, when combined together, yield good results. The separation of one from the other leads to evil. The knowledge contained in a crooked heart is like a torch in the hand of a thief or a weapon in the hand of a criminal. The present superpowers have knowledge but lack in faith; the result is exploitation and persecution of the weak. On the other hand, when faith is combined with ignorance, it leads to deadly results. In the period of Imam Ali, the Kharjites, and in our age, the Taliban are typical examples of this phenomenon we see. Where faith is devoid of knowledge, the bigotry and brutality is born.

Knowledge and faith combine to awaken the soul.Awakening is the result of an illumined mind and a living soul. The mind is illuminated by the rays of knowledge, while a soul is enlivened by the warmth of faith. The awakening determines our response to the stimuli from our environs, which gestures towards the recognition of Our Destination. An awakened mind comprehends these signs and understands them logically to reach the truth. Awakening is the sine qua non for any good change to happen in the conditions of a community. Knowledge, faith, and awakening are very deeply inter-related. Each affects the other, and each has its share in the evolution of personality or a society. Knowledge illumines the path, while faith provides zeal and gusto to continue the travel despite hardships and hurdles, and awakening is the result of both and affects the both.

Sadr al-Din Shirazi, popularly known as Mulla Sadra, propounds that the purpose of all other branches of sciences is to serve the divine knowledge. According to him, the ultimate end of man’s physical devotions and spiritual ascetic practices is the obtainment of knowledge and attainment of sciences, and every kind of knowledge or science but the divine knowledge and demonstrative science, the negligence of which, along with their opposing ignorance, could incur an evil end and an everlasting perdition.

He says: “My Dear! Know that the ultimate fruit of the human practices and movements, physical or spiritual, and the end of all thoughts and spiritual transitions, in states or sciences, is the free knowledge which is qualified by no fetter and the sciences, which is served by all yet serves none. Other sciences are derived from it, as the effect is derived from the cause and the branch from the source. It is the divine knowledge or the lordly art that is served by all other sciences and kinds of knowledge; it is their origin, and is the end and purpose of all crafts and industries and the corner stone of all of them; ‘In the name of God, it shall set sail and cast anchor.” (11:41) All other sciences and crafts are its slaves and servants.”

There are different levels of awakening, and each level has a corresponding level of knowledge and faith intertwined. The beginning is from acquiring the understanding and recognition of self and the environs around, and the end is recognition of His lofty status and complete unconditional submission before His Absolute might. This is a travel of soul through different stages. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) says about those who have advanced on this journey: “Knowledge has given them real insight; they have imbibed the spirit of conviction; they consider easy what the people living in ease and luxury consider difficult; they are familiar with what the ignorant have aversion to; their bodies are in the world but their souls are in high heaven.”

Heedlessness, which is the opposite state of being awakened, makes a human being, who otherwise has been armed with power of intellect by its Creator, worse than animals:

And certainly We have created for hell many of the jinn and the men; they have hearts with which they do not understand, and they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear; they are as cattle, nay, they are in worse errors; these are the heedless.” (7:179)

The Holy Qur’an at numerous places reprimands the ones who have blinded their eyes and have ignored all sources of guidance:

Have they not travelled in the land so that they should have hearts with which to understand, or ears with which to hear? For surely it is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts which are in the breasts.” (22:46)

“And the blind and the seeing are not alike.” (35:19)

“And the blind and the seeing are not alike, nor those who believe and do good and the evil-doer; little is it that you are mindful.” (40:58)

“What! Can you then make the deaf to hear or guide the blind and him who is in clear error?” (43:40)

“Those it is whom Allah has cursed so He has made them deaf and blinded their eyes.” (47:23

This blindness which the heedless and corrupted ones have imposed upon themselves leads them into further deviation, and the end result is the ruin in the both worlds.

Knowledge and faith, when combined together, yield good results. The separation of one from the other leads to evil. The knowledge contained in a crooked heart is like a torch in the hand of a thief or a weapon in the hand of a criminal. The present superpowers have knowledge but lack in faith; the result is exploitation and persecution of the weak. On the other hand, when faith is combined with ignorance, it leads to deadly results. In the period of Imam Ali, the Kharjites, and in our age, the Taliban are typical examples of this phenomenon we see. Where faith is devoid of knowledge, the bigotry and brutality is born.

A beautiful statement from Imam Ali highlights the purpose of attaining knowledge: “Conviction has also four aspects to guard oneself against infatuations of sin: to search for explanation of truth through knowledge; to gain lessons from instructive things; to follow the precedent of the past people, because whoever wants to guard himself against vices and sins will have to search for the true causes of infatuation, and the true ways of combating them out and to find those true ways one has to search them with the help of knowledge; whoever gets fully acquainted with various branches of knowledge will take lessons from life, and whoever tries to take lessons from life is actually engaged in the study of the causes of rise and fall of previous civilizations.” In Islamic history, the rise and fall of Muslims has been in sync with rise and fall of knowledge and faith. Muslims rose with the rise in levels of knowledge and faith and declined with the decline in levels of knowledge and faith.

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  1. terrific! you guys never cease to amaze me.

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