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Lessons on Interpretation of the Hamd Surah

Second Session

(part 3)


There is a class of people who have accomplished this: they have migrated in this way; and attained their goal (although in another sense their migration is continuing), and it had become incumbent upon God to reward them. There are others who have migrated but not yet reached the goal of being “overtaken by death.”‌

 And then is still another group” to which you and I belong””that has not even begun to migrate.1 We are still caught up in the darkness; we are captives in the pit of attachment to the world, to nature, and, worst of all, to our own egos. We are enclosed in our home of selfhood, and all that exists for us is our selves. Whatever we want, we want for ourselves. The thought of misgrating has not even occurred to us; all our thoughts are devoted to this world. We do not return to God the trust of the strength and energy. He has put in us, but expend all of it for the sake of this world. As time goes on, we become more and more distant from our point of origin, that place toward which we are supposed to migrate.

According to a tradition, the Prophet was once seated with his Companions when suddenly they heard a noise. They asked him what it is was and he told them, “Once a stone fell into hellfire, and now, seventy years later, it has reached the bottom, making the sound you just heard.”‌ By this the Prophet was referring to a man who had sinned for seventy years and just died. I, too, have traveled in the same direction, but for eighty years, not seventy; and you have, too, for differing numbers of year. I hope that henceforth you will in the opposite direction. Anything that afflicts us is caused by our love of self, our egoism. There is a welk-known saying: “The most hostile of your enemies is your self, enclosed between your two sides.”‌ Your self is worse than all your enemies, worse than all idols. It is, in fact, the chief of all idols, compelling you to worship it with a greater force than that of all other idols. Until one breaks this idol, one cannot turn to God; the idol and God, egoism and divinity, cannot coexist within you. Unless we leave this idol temple, turn our backs on this idol, and set our faces toward God Almighty, we will in reality idolaters, even though we may outwardly worship God. We say “God”‌ with our tongues, but our selves are what is in our hearts. When we stand in prayer we say, “You alone do we worship and from You alone do we seek help,”‌1 but in reality it is our selves that we are worshipping. I mean that we are exclusively concerned with ourselves, and desire everything for ourselves.

All the problems besetting the world, including wars, arise from this egoism. True believers will not got to war with each other; if war breaks out between two people, they must realize that they are not believers. When there is no belief, but only attention to self, concern for the self and its desires, then trouble arises. I want this seat for myself; conflicts arise, for these are incompatible. I may want a carpet for myself, or some position of leadership, which you desire equally for yourself, so that a dispute ensues between us. Someone wants to rule a country himself; another harbors the same desire, so war breaks out between them. All wars that take place in the worlds are wars between opposing egos.

The awliya’ are exempt from this egoism, and no war takes place among them. If they were all gathered together, neither strife nor dispute would occur among them, for they are all devoted entirely to a single aim, God, and nothing remains of their  selfhood  that  might  cause  them  to  pull  in  different directions. But we are trapped in a pit in darkness of the worst kind, the darkness of egoism. Yes, we are caught in a dark pit of egoism. We are preoccupied with our own desires and ourselves and while we are willing to consider harm for others if it is to our benefit, we refuse to accept what is proper and right if it threatens our interests. We also believe immediately whatever we think is to our benefit, but refuse to believe anything contrary to our interests.

All human sufferings are caused by egoism of these and other forms; people pull in different directions dictated by their own selfish desires. As long as matters continue this way, there will be no question of worshipping God, but only the self. Who can escape this temple of the self, this idol-temple that is situated within man himself? Man needs a helping hand from the world of the unseen to reach him and lead him out. It is precisely for this purpose, to lead man out of his idol-temple that all the prophets have been sent and all the heavenly books revealed. They have enabled man to shatter the idol and being worshipping God.

The prophets all came to make this world a divine world after it had been a satanic world, a world governed by Satan. It is Satan that is ruling us, too; we follow him, and our vain desires are a manifestation of him. As long as that great Satan that is our unredeemed soul exists within us, whatever we do will be done in egoism. We must destroy the government of Satan within us.

 When we migrate to the teachings of the prophets and the awliya’, turn our backs on egoism, we will have begun to emerge from the pit. Some will even succeed, while still in this world, in reaching a stage that is now beyond our imagination””that of non-being, of effaced in God. We must desire to make this migration from egoism, and be prepared to struggle in order to migrate.

The Prophet said, “You have now returned from the lesser jihad; the greater jihad still remains as duty for you.”‌ All forms of jihad that may be waged in the world depend on this greater jugad; if we succeed in the greater jihad, then all our other strivings will count as jihad, and if not, they will be satanic. Some who waged jihad may have been given simply a slave girl as their just reward, whereas others who made the migration to God received God as their reward.


A Commentary on the Chapter of ‘Praise’ 

Witten by: Imam Khomeini(R.A)

Translator: Bahram Afrasiabi 

Other Links:

Lessons on Interpretation of the Hamd Surah: First Session (part 3)  

Lessons on Interpretation of the Hamd Surah: First Session (part 4)

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