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In the Name of God بسم الله

Jafar moh

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    Jafar moh reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Paradise: A Kingdom of Gnosis   
    Is Paradise a Kingdom of Islamic Gnosis? There has been a millennia-long debate on the nature of the Islamic Paradise, whether it is physical or spiritual, literal or allegorical. The hoopla around its physicality does not concern me much, because whether heaven is in a molecular dimension or a spiritual one, it is certainly more "real" and of greater consequence than the natural world we have experienced. But in my recent reading of the Islamic Paradise and its anthropological symbolism, it is becoming more apparent to me that sacred knowledge plays an enormous role in the final abode.
    Probably the most common characteristic of Paradise is water, which is associated with life, cosmology, knowledge, blessing, resurrection, and wilaya in Shiism. The universe was made of water before Allah parted it and formed the heavens and the Earth ( ان الله عز وجل حمل علمه ودينه الماء قبل أن يكون سماء أو ارض أو انس أو جن أو شمس أو قمر ). Paradise has flowing rivers that are white like milk (white being a symbol of purity and light). It has many shades of green, which is a sign of the Garden's richness and lusciousness. There are supplications for rain, which is also life, help, blessing and mercy, coming vertically downward from the heaven unto the Earth. In our tafsir of 67:30, the sunken water is a hidden Imam, and the gushing water is an apparent Imam ( قلت: ما تأويل قول الله عزوجل: "قل أرأيتم إن أصبح ماؤكم غورا فمن يأتيكم بماء معين "فقال: إذا فقدتم إمامتكم فلم تروه فماذا تصنعون ) - the Imam being the source of life, without whom we die physically (the Earth always has a Guide) and spiritually (a man stagnant in religion is heedless and dead). In 16:64-65, divine revelation is likened to rain. Ismailis hold that water is a symbol for knowledge, which purifies the soul of its recipient, and al-Ghazali says the same in his commentary of 13:17, and Majlisi too says this about 72:16.
    The most prominent river in Paradise is al-Kawthar - its name implies its plenitude, and whomever drinks from it will never thirst again. al-Kawthar flows from beneath the Throne (الكوثر نهر يجري من تحت عرش الله). In Shiism, the Throne of Allah is not a physical throne, but a symbol of knowledge and authority (العرشى ليس هو الله والعرش اسم علم وقدرة) (ان الله عز وجل حمل علمه ودينه الماء). This Throne - the knowledge and religion of God - was first settled upon the primordial water of life (11:7). Once the world was formed, Allah made His most elite Prophet (s) and Imams (s) the carriers of this knowledge and religion, and hence they became the carriers of the Throne. The angels surround the Throne, seeking the knowledge and the association of the Guide (40:7-9 (الذين يحملون العرش) يعنى رسول الله صلى الله عليه واله والاوصياء من بعده يحملون علم الله (ومن حوله) يعنى الملائكة).
    The Blessed Tree of Paradise is at the house of `Ali ( رأيت في الجنة شجرة طوبى أصلها في دار علي). In 14:24-26, Allah presents a "goodly tree" (Shajaratun Tayyiba, related to the word Tuba) as an allegory for a "good word". On the surface, this good word is the revelation, but esoterically, the Messenger (s) is the root of this tree, `Ali is its branches, the Imams are its twigs, the knowledge of the Imams are its fruit, and the Shi`a are its leaves. ( رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله أصلها، وأمير المؤمنين عليه السلام فرعها، والائمة من ذريتهما أغصانها وعلم الائمة ثمرتها وشيعتهم المؤمنون ورقها) Indeed, there are a lot of tree allegories in ancient scriptures. Fruits normally symbolize the offspring, the actions, or the knowledge of a person. The "food" consumed in 80:24 is actually knowledge (عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام في قوله تعالى " فلينظر الانسان إلى طعامه " قال: إلى علمه الذي يأخذه عمن يأخذه). The fig and the olive in 95:1 is actually Hasan and Husayn (who are sometimes the fruits on the goodly Tree). From the root of the Blessed Tree, four rivers will flow out (ويجري نهر في أصل تلك الشجرة ينفجر منه الأنهار الأربعة) - i.e., from the Prophet, the carrier of sacred knowledge, whom Allah is atop of (in power, authority, and origin), the rivers (knowledge) will stream out to the rest of the people of Paradise. The reward of the believers is seeing the Face of Allah, which are the Guides, through whom Allah is known, turned to, and through whom the religion of Allah is attained (فقلت: يا بن رسول الله فما معنى الخبر الذي رووه أن ثواب لا إله إلا الله النظر إلى وجه الله تعالى؟فقال عليه السلام: يا أبا الصلت من وصف الله عز وجل بوجه كالوجوه فقد كفر، ولكن وجه الله أنبياءه وحججه صلوات الله عليهم، الذين بهم يتوجه إلى الله عز وجل والى دينه ومعرفته). On the other hand, the "tree" of Hellfire is Zaqqum, which one hadith says is the Umayyads ( وكيف لا أبكي وأنا من الشجرة الملعونة في القرآن), whose fruits are the heads (or chiefs) of the devils (37:62-68).
    The wilaya itself has been described as Paradise by the Imams. Wilaya is the Kingdom of Heaven, the Body Christ, the undying allegiance, love, association and partisanship of the Guides, amidst great adversity and suffering in the prison of this world. The acknowledgment of Imamate is the meaning of Paradise (قال رجل في المجلس أسأل الله الجنة فقال أبو عبد الله (ع) أنتم في الجنة فاسألوا الله أن لا يخرجكم منها. فقلنا جعلنا فداك نحن في الدنيا فقال أ لستم تقرون بإمامتنا قالوا نعم فقال هذامعنى الجنة الذي من أقر به كان في الجنة فاسألوا الله أن لا يسلبكم). Once we acknowledge and recognize the Imam, the faith that illuminates our hearts connects us to the Paradise of the Hereafter.
    Paradise is described as a place brightened with Allah's light. In our literature, this light inspires guidance (noor al-hidaya), greatness, love (لما اسري بي إلى السماء بلغ بي جبرئيل مكانا لم يطأه قط جبرئيل فكشف له فأراه الله من نور عظمته ما أحب), faith, clairvoyance, and purity – like the water. The places of wudu will become places of light in the Resurrection. The locale of faith is in the heart, and faith is a light in Paradise (الحياء من الايمان والايمان في الجنة). When we sin, that light leaves our hearts, and Paradise slips away from us.
    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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