‘Allāmah Ḥasan Muṣṭafawī, “RISĀLAH MA‘RIFAT ALLAH: A Treatise on the Stages of Mystical Wayfaring toward the Station of Beatific Vision,” trans. Mansoor Limba (www.ElziStyle.com)
This is a treatise which deals with the salient features of the stages [manāzil] that lead toward the station [maqām] of Beatific Vision or meeting with Allah, the Glorious and Dignified [liqā’ Allāh ‘azza wa jall], and the effects and signs of each of these stages as well as the outcome of attaining the station of liqā’ Allāh.
What shall be tackled in this treatise are subjects which are completely well-established and certainly authentic and in accordance with the holy verses of the Qur’an and the traditions [aḥādīth] of the Infallibles [ma‘ṣūmīn] (‘a).
﴿ رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي ٭ وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي ﴾
“My Lord! Expand my breast and ease my affairs in life.”
The Word Liqā’
Fayyūmī says in Miṣbāḥ al-Munīr:
لَقيتُه ألقاه من باب تَعِب لُقيّاً و لِقاءاً، و كلُّ شيء استقبلَ شيئا أوصادَفه فقد لَقِيَه.
“When an object faces or confronts another object, then it has met that one [faqad laqiyahu].”
It is thus stated in Tahdhīb al-Lughah by Azharī:
كلُّ شيء إستقبلَ شيئا أوصادَفَه فقد لَقِيه. مِن الأشياء كلّها.
When an object, from among all objects, faces or confronts another, then it has met that one [faqad laqiyahū].
Ibn Fāris also says in his Maqāyīs al-Lughah:
المُلاقاةُ و تَوافي الاءثنين مُتقابِلَيْن.
“[Liqā’ is] a face to face meeting [mulāqāt] and encounter of two things or individuals.”
So, liqā’ is an Arabic infinitive [maṣdar] like mulāqāt [“to meet” or “meeting”], from the mufā‘alah verbal mode [bāb-e mufā‘alah] and it means face to face encounter and meeting.
And this meaning of confrontation [muqābalah] and encounter [muwājahah] is unambiguous in the physical world such as a face to face encounter and confrontation of two persons.
In the spiritual worlds, particularly in relation to God, the Exalted, however, this “encounter” and “meeting” must naturally be in a spiritual or figurative sense.
This is because God, the Exalted, is devoid of the features, limitations and descriptions existing in the worlds of creation [‘awālim-e khalq].
Liqā’ with Allah, the Exalted
Three types of limitation [ḥadd] can be seen in the creatures of the worlds of creation [‘awālim-e khalq]:
1. Limitation derived from the composition of things. This limitation or restriction [qayd] exists in the natural physical bodies, and the freedom of action of each member of the inanimate, plant and animal worlds is confined within their nature and composition.
In the material world, there is no option whatoever to extend the scope of one’s power and activity beyond the corporeal nature.
A corporeal being can only act and develop within the bound of its inherent talent and physical power. Neither can it strengthen its physical composition with forces beyond itself.
2. Limitation of time and space. In physical bodies, in general, there are both fine and ugly, for every corporeal body is innately in need of the longitudinal dimension of time and the latitudinal dimension of space, and will be restricted by these two limitations. For this reason, difference in the concept of time and space does not matter.
Thus, every corporeal body is bound by the limitations and dynamics of time and space.
3. Natural or essential limitation. This limitation or restriction essentially exists in all contingents [mumkināt] and degrees of beings particularly in the world of intellects [‘ālam-e ‘uqūl]. It is true that the intellects are beyond the corporeal realm but they are limited in essence, origin and existence.
As the effect of training, mystical wayfaring and refinement of the self, man has the talent to transcend beyond the corporeal realm. He can even go beyond his inherent limitation and be absorbed and annihilated in the world of unity and divinity [‘ālam-e lāhūt].
Yes, the station of meeting [liqā’] with Allah, the Exalted, will be realized here.
﴿ يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ ٭ ارْجِعِي إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَرْضِيَّةً ٭ فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي ٭ وَادْخُلِي جَنَّتِي ﴾
“O soul in tranquility! Return to your Lord in a pleased and pleasing state! Then enter among My special servants and to My special paradise!”
Our discussion in this treatise pertains to the features of the stations of this divine journey until the wayfarer [sālik] reaches the station of beatific vision [manzil-e liqā’].
Of course, we address those who are heedful of these stages and have belief and interest in the topic of beatific vision [liqā’], and those who deny and oppose it have nothing to do with this discussion.
Denying Liqā’ with Allah
This section is not part of the stages of wayfaring of the wayfarers [sālikīn]. It rather deals with opposition and antagonism to this direction.
But in view of the dictum—“things are recognized through their opposites”—to clarify many aspects of this section can be of immense help in the stages of wayfaring [sulūk]. Meanwhile, the meanings of some holy verses quoted in this regard shall be revealed and clarified.
It must be noted that there are certain stages or levels of denial [kufr]:
1. Denial of the cosmic signs [āyāt takwīniyyah]: This is sheer animalistic state, ignorance and lack of foresight [maḥjūbiyyah] because the first [sign of] man’s wakefulness and movement is to notice the cosmic signs, effects and symbols of the Creator of the universe which are associated with order, wisdom, plan, intelligence, and thinking.
Since man becomes negligent of the manifestation of divine signs and effects as a result of total heedlessness and ignorance and intoxication of material pleasure and worldly life, he will naturally deny the Origin [mabda’] and Destination [ma‘ād] as well as the issue of liqā’.
﴿ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَلِقَائِهِ أُولَئِكَ يَئِسُوا مِنْ رَحْمَتِي وَأُولَئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ ﴾
“And those who deny the signs and the encounter with Allah, the Exalted, they have despaired of My mercy and will be afflicted with a painful punishment.”
﴿ قُلْ هَلْ نُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِالأخْسَرِينَ أَعْمَالا ٭ الَّذِينَ ضَلَّ سَعْيُهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ يَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ يُحْسِنُونَ صُنْعًا ٭ أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ وَلِقَائِهِ فَحَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فَلا نُقِيمُ لَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَزْنًا ﴾
“Say, ‘Shall I inform you about the biggest losers in regard to works? Those who endeavor goes awry in the life of the world, while they suppose they are doing good’. They are the ones who deny the signs and the encounter with Him. So, their works have failed. On the Day of Resurrection, We will not set for them any weight.”
﴿ وَالَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَلِقَاءِ الآخِرَةِ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ ﴾
“And the works of those who deny Our signs and the encounter are nullified.”
﴿ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَكَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَلِقَاءِ الآخِرَةِ فَأُولَئِكَ فِي الْعَذَابِ مُحْضَرُونَ ﴾
“But those who were faithless and denied Our signs and the encounter will be brought to the punishment.”
Yes, since these individuals are totally detached from the Beloved Creator of the universe, naturally they must not expect the special bounties and mercy of God in addition to His general mercy and infinite blessings:
a. Consciously or unconsciously, they are hopeless of the special mercy of God, the Exalted.
b. They are perturbed for being deprived of the mystical wayfaring [sulūk] and for their actions.
c. All their worldly endeavors which are already finished are of no benefit.
d. All the things they think to be good and wholesome are actually the opposite.
e. Because of lack of [Godly] intention and other deeds, their good deeds shall fade away.
In general, any action which is not accompanied by righteous intention, purpose and objective is devoid of any value. If ever it is a righteous deed, because of its lack of spiritual or divine objective, the doer shall yield its fruit only in this world according to his worldly or materialistic intention.
Yes, the purpose or intention of materialistic individuals (absolute kuffār) is nothing but acquisition of worldly interests and attainment of materialistic aims and outcomes.
الأعمالُ بالنّيّات، لِكُلِّ امرِءٍ مانَوى.
That is to say, the values and peculiarities of actions are based on the intentions, and every person shall be compensated according to the intention behind his action.
2. Denial of liqā’: There is a lesser denial [kufr] in this stage, and in general man pays attention to and is heedful of cosmic signs and effects of God’s creation, and he is also aware of the order and role of innovative creative power along with plan, intelligence and wisdom of the universe and its inhabitants.
Yet, he has not yet paid attention to the essence of man’s wayfaring and the fate awaiting the material world and its annihilation and the direction toward the next world as the Resurrection and Judgment Day, the pure spiritual world, the appearance of the inner quality of man, and the settlement of the outcomes and products of deeds, morality, attitudes, beliefs, and psychological impulses.
It must be noted well that every movement and activity must definitely have two sides or points: (1) the point of origin, genesis and beginning of action, and (2) the point of destination, end, conclusion, and the Ultimate Cause, and this fact is generally indisputable and definite.
Since the Origin of this universe with such stupendous order is identified, naturally the end, destination, finality, and conclusion of this movement and activity will be toward Him because the power, authority and Origin must be One in order to avoid chaos, disorder, contradiction, and conflict. In this manner, the return will also be toward Him.
The ray of faith, however, has not yet reached this stage or level. Consciously or unconsciously, there will be negligence, denial or rejection of the Resurrection, return and conclusion of the movement.
It is true that at this stage, there is movement and a step is made toward the Resurrection and liqā’, but denial of liqā’ still remains.
﴿ قَدْ خَسِرَ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِلِقَاءِ اللَّهِ حَتَّى إِذَا جَاءَتْهُمُ السَّاعَةُ بَغْتَةً قَالُوا يَا حَسْرَتَنَا عَلَى مَا فَرَّطْنَا فِيهَا وَهُمْ يَحْمِلُونَ أَوْزَارَهُمْ ﴾
“They are indeed losers who deny Our encounter. When the Resurrection suddenly overtakes them, they will say, ‘Alas for us, for what we neglected in doing good deeds!’ And they will bear their burdens of misdeeds.”
﴿ قَدْ خَسِرَ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِلِقَاءِ اللَّهِ وَمَا كَانُوا مُهْتَدِينَ ﴾
“They are indeed losers who deny the encounter with God, the Exalted, and they will never be guided to the path of truth.”
﴿ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا إِلا بِالْحَقِّ وَأَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنَ النَّاسِ بِلِقَاءِ رَبِّهِمْ لَكَافِرُونَ ﴾
“God, the Exalted, did not create the heavens and the earth except according to a right and correct scheme and for a specified scale and term, and many of the people disbelieve in the encounter with their Lord.”
﴿ وَقَالُوا أَئِذَا ضَلَلْنَا فِي الأرْضِ أَئِنَّا لَفِي خَلْقٍ جَدِيدٍ بَلْ هُمْ بِلِقَاءِ رَبِّهِمْ كَافِرُونَ ﴾
“And they say, ‘When our life on earth comes to an end, shall we find a new program?’ Rather they disbelieve in the encounter with their Lord.”
Since these individuals are deniers and rejectors of the encounter with Allah [liqā’ Allāh], they will expectedly experience the evil effects of their denial and rejection:
a. Losses and damages: Since they do not go along the true path of liqā’, they will incur overall losses in their journey toward the truth and perfection.
b. Regret and frustration: This is caused by their shortcoming and failing to perform the duties related to the wayfaring toward liqā’ Allāh and by being deprived of this sublime felicity.
c. Enduring heavy burdens of errors: All the failures, deviations and sins as a result of lagging behind in the spiritual journey are placed on their shoulders in the form of very heavy burdens.
d. Being in a state of deviation and misguidance: They are always misguided and outside the path of truth and the stages of felicity.
e. Heedlessness of the purpose of creation: They are heedless of the purpose of creation of this universe and the reason and philosophy behind this order in the creatures.
Yes, the world with such greatness and stupendously orderly formation and the heavens and stars with such vastness are all in front of the Glory and Beauty of the Almighty God and are moving toward Him while glorifying Him and prostrating to Him, and all [in the heavens and the earth] are earnestly making a step to meet Him.
﴿ وَلِلَّهِ يَسْجُدُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ طَوْعًا وَكَرْهًا ﴾
“To Allah prostrates whatever there is in the heavens and the earth, out of volition and obedience, or out of force and compulsion.”
3. Negligence of liqā’: It is true that negligence [ghiflah] is not synonymous with denial [kufr], but in terms of practice and its outcome it is equivalent to kufr or denial.
When a person is negligent, indifferent and inattentive to a certain thing, naturally he will not do anything positive and effective in relation to it, and for this reason, negligence has no practical difference with denial or rejection.
So, although negligent, lackadaisical, sluggish, and inattentive individuals may be considered Muslims, in terms of the outcome [of their practice], they are identical with the faithless or rejecters of faith [kuffār].
For this reason, the negligent are portrayed in the Glorious Qur’an in the worst and most detestable manner:
﴿ أُولَئِكَ كَالأنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ ﴾
“They are like cattle; rather the heedless are more misguided.”
﴿ يَعْلَمُونَ ظَاهِرًا مِنَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ عَنِ الآخِرَةِ هُمْ غَافِلُونَ ﴾
“They see and know just an outward aspect of the life of the world, but they are oblivious of the Hereafter.”
﴿ اقْتَرَبَ لِلنَّاسِ حِسَابُهُمْ وَهُمْ فِي غَفْلَةٍ مُعْرِضُونَ ﴾
“Their reckoning has drawn near, yet they are disregardful and oblivious.”
﴿ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ لا يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءَنَا وَرَضُوا بِالْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاطْمَأَنُّوا بِهَا وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا غَافِلُونَ ٭ أُولَئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ ﴾
“Those who do not expect to encounter Us and who are pleased with and certain of the life of this world, and those who are oblivious of Our signs—it is they whose refuge shall be the Fire.”
﴿ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لا يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءَنَا ائْتِ بِقُرْآنٍ غَيْرِ هَذَا أَوْ بَدِّلْهُ ﴾
“Those who do not expect to encounter Us say, ‘Alter this Qur’an or bring another Qur’an for us’.”
﴿ وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءنَا لَوْلَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْنَا الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَوْ نَرَى رَبَّنَا لَقَدِ اسْتَكْبَرُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ وَعَتَوْ عُتُوًّا كَبِيرًا ﴾
“And those who do not expect to encounter Us say, ‘Why have not angels been sent down to us, or why do we not see our Lord?’ They have every kind of arrogance within their souls and go beyond the state of moderation.”
﴿ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا دِينَهُمْ لَهْوًا وَلَعِبًا وَغَرَّتْهُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا فَالْيَوْمَ نَنْسَاهُمْ كَمَا نَسُوا لِقَاءَ يَوْمِهِمْ هَذَا وَمَا كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يَجْحَدُونَ ﴾
“Those who took their religion for diversion and play and whom the life of the world had deceived. So today (Day of Resurrection) We will forget them as they forgot the encounter of this day of theirs, and as they used to impugn Our signs.”
These holy verses prove that negligence, oblivion, lack of hope of the encounter, expecting the angels to come down, physically seeing God, and playing with religion are related to other than the faithless [kuffār].
Negligence is the opposite of remembrance and it means the lack of remembrance. Oblivion means to forget and neglect what is being mentioned. Hope means to desire for something good which is possible to happen or appear.
Attachment to the physical world of darkness and the life of this world is the opposite of attachment to the world of light and the life of the next world. Similarly, certainty and tranquility of the mind in relation to the world is the opposite of certainty and tranquility of the mind in relation to the luminous heavenly life.
So, inclination to and being satisfied with the life of this world deprives man of the inclination to encounter God, the Exalted.
Oblivion and negligence of the life in the next world and liqā’ Allāh is the opposite of oblivion, lack of attention and remembrance of God, the Exalted, [to a person] in the next world because in this case there is no ground and exigency of the attention and remembrance of God. By his own choice and freewill, the negligent person has rejected the life of the next world.
﴿ فَالْيَوْمَ نَنْسَاهُمْ كَمَا نَسُوا لِقَاءَ يَوْمِهِمْ هَذَا ﴾
“So today We will forget them as they forgot the encounter of this day of theirs.”
﴿ وَهُمْ فِي غَفْلَةٍ مُعْرِضُونَ ﴾
“Yet they are disregardful in [their] obliviousness.”
Hence negligence, in general, has evil effects and consequences:
1. Negligence draws the lofty station of humanity [insāniyyah] to that which is baser than animality [ḥayawāniyyah].
2. Inclination to the life of this world causes the same extent of lagging behind in the hereafter.
3. Negligence of the signs [of God] and lack of hope for liqā’ Allāh lead to punishment.
4. Negligence of liqā’ Allāh leads to self-conceit, arrogance and rebellion against God.
5. Lack of hope for liqā’ Allāh leads to the mockery of religion and faultfinding.
Yes, one who is totally detached from the world of light, spirituality and luminosity thinks that value, position and greatness are confined to physical life. Since he sees himself in the first stage of existence and cares for and loves himself more than anything else, he naturally is afflicted with self-conceit and self-praise. So, he will look at religion and that which is related to metaphysics with contempt. It must be borne in mind that in these three stages or degrees of denial and negligence man is deprived of any stage or degree of true perfection and felicity. His life will end up in utter deprivation, indigence and extreme poverty, and he will have no share of the spiritual pleasures, blessings and favors of the metaphysical world.
 Ma‘ṣūmīn: those possessing the quality of ‘iṣmah [infallibility]; viz., the Prophet, Fātimah, and the Twelve Imāms (‘a). See A Brief History of the Fourteen Infallibles, 3rd edition (Tehran: World Organization for Islamic Services, 2001), available at http://www.wofis.com/publications/001/001.pdf. [Trans.]
 The abbreviation, “‘a” stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, ‘alayhi’s-salām, ‘alayhim’us-salām, or ‘alayhā’s-salām [may peace be upon him/them/her], which is used after the names of the prophets, angels, Imāms from the Prophet’s progeny, and saints (‘a). [Trans.]
 Sūrah Ṭā Hā 20:25-26. In this volume, the translation of Qur’anic passages is based on the author’s explanatory Persian translation in footnotes as required by the publisher. [Trans.]
 That is, Aḥmad ibn ‘Alī Fayyūmī. [Trans.]
 That is, Abū Manṣūr Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Azharī. [Trans.]
 Tahdhīb al-Lughah, vol. 9, p. 298.
 Miṣbāḥ al-Lughah and Tahdhīb al-Lughah interpret liqā’ to mean ‘to face’ and ‘to confront’. Maqāyīs al-Lughah defines it as ‘to meet’ and ‘to encounter’.
 Mufā‘alah verbal mode [bāb-e mufā‘alah] is an Arabic infinitive in which two persons [or things] confront each other.
 Sūrah al-Fajr 89:27-30.
 Maḥjūbiyyah: literally, the state of being veiled or covered. [Trans.]
 Sūrah al-‘Ankabūt 29:23.
 Sūrah al-Kahf 18:103-105.
 Sūrah al-A‘rāf 7:147.
 Sūrah al-Rūm 30:16.
 Sūrah al-An‘ām 6:31.
 Sūrah Yūnus 10:45.
 Sūrah al-Rūm 30:8.
 Sūrah al-Sajdah 32:10.
 Sūrah ar-Ra‘d 13:15.
 Sūrah al-A‘rāf 7:179.
 Sūrah ar-Rūm 30:7.
 Sūrah al-Anbiyā’ 21:1.
 Sūrah Yūnus 10:7-8.
 Sūrah Yūnus 10:15.
 Sūrah al-Furqān 25:21.
 Sūrah al-A‘rāf 7:51.
 ﴿ وَرَضُوا بِالْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاطْمَأَنُّوا بِهَا ﴾ “…who are pleased with the life of this world and satisfied with it.” (Sūrah Yūnus 10:7)
 ﴿ يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ ٭ ارْجِعِي إِلَى رَبِّكِ ﴾ “O soul at peace! Return to your Lord!” (Sūrah al-Fajr 89:27-28)
 Sūrah al-A‘rāf 7:51.
 Sūrah al-Anbiyā’ 21:1.
(An excerpt from ‘Allāmah Ḥasan Muṣṭafawī, “RISĀLAH MA‘RIFAT ALLAH: A Treatise on the Stages of Mystical Wayfaring toward the Station of Beatific Vision,” trans. Mansoor Limba (https://www.elzistyle.com/product/risalah-liqa-allah)