A Shiite Anthology
Ali al-Reza (A.S)
I. Profession of Unity
It has been related that when al-Ma'mun desired to install al-Rida (as his successor), he collected together Banu Hashim and said to them, "Verily I desire to install al-Rida in this affair after me."
Banu Hashim envied al-Rida and said, "Thou appointest an ignorant man who possesses not the insight to direct the caliphate. Therefore send for him. He will come to us and thou wilt see how his ignorance decides thee against him. So he sent for him and he came. Banu Hashim said to him, O Abu-l-Hasan! Ascend the pulpit and display for us a sigh whereby we may worship God."
So he ascended the pulpit and sat for a long time, his head bowed in silence. Then he trembled a great trembling and stood up straight, praised and lauded God, and asked His blessing for His prophet and his household. Then he said, " The first element in the worship of God is knowledge of Him, the root (asl) of knowledge of Him is to profess His Unity (tawhid), and the correct way (nizam) to profess the Unity of God is to negate attributes from Him For the powers of reason testify that every attribute and everything possessing an attribute (mawsuf ) is created. Everything possessing an attribute testifies that it has a Creator which is neither attribute nor possesses an attribute. Every attribute and everything possessing an attribute testify to connection (iqtiran, between the attribute and that to which it is attributed). Connection testifies to temporality (hadath). And temporality testifies that it accepts not the Beginningless, which accepts not the temporal."
So it is not God whose Essence is known through comparison. It is not His Unity that is professed by someone who attempts to fathom Him. It is not His reality (haqiqah) that is attained by someone who strikes a similitude for Him. It is not He who is confirmed (tasdiq) by him who professes an end for Him. It is not He to whom repairs he who points to Him. It is not He who is meant by him who compares Him (to something). It is not to Him that he who divides Him into parts humbles himself. And it is not He who is desired by him who conceives of Him in his imagination."
"Everything that can be known in itself (bi-nafsihi) is fashioned (masnu). All that stands apart from Him is an effect (malul). God is inferred from what He fashions (sun'), the knowledge of Him is made fast by the powers of reason, and the argument (hujjah) for Him is established by (man's) primordial nature (al-fitrah)."
"God's creating of the creatures is a veil between Him and them. His separation (mubayanah) from them is that He is disengaged from their localization (ayniyyah). That He is their origin (ibtida') is proof for them that He has no origin, for none that has an origin can originate others. That He has created them possessing means (of accomplishing things) is proof that He has no means (adah), for means are witness to the poverty of those who use them."
"So His names are an expression (tabir), His acts (afal) are (a way) to make (Him) understood (tafhim), and His Essence is Reality (haqiqah). His inmost center (kunh) separates (tafriq) Him from creation, and His otherness (ghuyur) limits (tahdid) what is other than He. Therefore ignorant of God is he who asks for Him to be described! Transgressing against Him is he who seeks to encompass Him! Mistaken is he who imagines to have fathomed Him!"
"Whoso says 'how ?' has compared Him (to something). Whoso says 'why ?' has professed for Him a cause (talil). Whoso says 'when?' has determined Him in time (tawqit). Whoso says 'in what ?' has enclosed Him (tadmin). Whoso says 'to what ?' has professed for Him a limit (tanhiyah). Whoso says 'until what ?' has given Him an end (taghiyah). Whoso gives Him an end has associated an end with Him. Whoso associates an end with Him has divided Him. Whoso divides Him has described Him. Whoso describes Him has deviated from the straight path (ilhad) concerning Him."
God does not change with the changes undergone by creation, just as He does not become limited by delimiting (tahdid) that which is limited (al-mahdud). He is One (ahad), not according to the explanation offered by number (tawil adad); Outward, not according to the explanation of being immediate (to the senses); Manifest, not through the appearance of a vision (of Him); Inward (batin), not through separation (muzayalah); Apart (muba'in), not through distance; Near, not through approach; Subtle, not through corporealization; Existent, not after nonexistence; Active, not through coercion; Determining, not through the activity of thought (jawl fikrah); Directing (mudabbir), not through movement; Desiring, not through resolution; Willing (sha'), not through directing attention (himmah); Grasping (mudrik), not through touch (majassah); Hearing, not through means; and Seeing, not through organs."
"Times accompany Him not, places enclose Him not, slumber seizes Him not, attributes delimit Him not, and instruments (adawat) are of no use to Him. His being (kawn) precedes times (al-awqat), His existence (wujud) non-existence and His beginninglessness (azal) beginning (al-ibtida')."
"By His giving sense to the sense organs it is known that He has no sense organs. By His giving substance to substances it is known that He has no substance. By His causing opposition among things it is known that He has no opposite. By His causing affiliation among affairs it is known that He has no affiliate. He opposed darkness to light, obscurity to clarity, moisture to solidity, and heat to cold. He joins together those things which are hostile to one another and separates those which are near. They prove (the existence of) their Separator by their separation and their Joiner by their junction. That is (the meaning of) His words-He is the Mighty and Majestic-'And of everything created We two kinds; haply you will remember'. "(LI 49).
A Shiite Anthology: The Vision of the Heart
A Shiite Anthology: The Fairest of Creators