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Ignorance and Perfection

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I heard from Aqā Mīrza Jafar Shīrāzī – from Tabrīz – regarding the knowledge of the Imams, he said: at times the knowledge of something can be perfection, while other times the ignorance of something can be perfection and Allah would take knowledge away from the Imams (a) in those later cases. For example, the night when Imam Ali (a) slept on the bed of the Prophet (p), if he had known that sleeping on the bed will not result in any harm, this would not have been an instance of perfection. The condition of perfection which was exhibited through the sacrifice of the Imam (a) is that he should not know, and he did not know. In cases where ignorance is a condition of acquiring perfection, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) takes away the knowledge.

Source: Dars Khārij of Āyatullah Sayyid Shubayrī Zanjāni, 23rd September 1995

https://www.iqraonline.net/the-martyrdom-of-lady-Zahra-s-and-maintaining-respect-on-both-the-first-and-second-fatimiyyah/

***

I wouldn't say that ignorance can be perfection, but rather that it is sometimes a prerequisite for performing a great deed and perfecting one's character. 

I know some people want to say that the Ahlul Bayt had complete knowledge of the unseen, but if that was the case then it would diminish the value of many of their actions.  This is the opposite of what you would expect, as being very knowledgeable is a praiseworthy trait, yet it does seem that too much knowledge in certain situations undermines the value of actions.  If Imam Ali (عليه السلام) knew beforehand that no harm would come to him when he slept in the Prophets (sawa) bed, then there was nothing special about him sleeping in the Prophet's bed.  What made his action special was the he was putting himself in harms way for the sake of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and the Prophet (sawa).  

Edited by .InshAllah.

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This raises the question of how we deal with narrations that say that the Ahlul Bayt knew 'what was, and what will be and what won't be until the day of judgement'.

One possible way is to understand them as saying that the Ahlul Bayt have access to all knowledge.  There are other traditions which say that if the Ahlul Bayt ask Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) about something then He tells them.  This implies that they don’t have direct knowledge of all things, but they do have access to all knowledge as Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) would tell them if they asked.  They can be said to know everything only in the sense of say a government official saying 'we know everything about you', I.e. there is a database that contains all the information about you that the government has access to, not that there is one person who has all the information about you in his mind.

In this way we can also make sense of the narrations in which the Imams explicitly deny ilm ghayb:  having access to knowledge from God is not the same as literally knowing everything

Edited by .InshAllah.

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Salam,

These explanations are something that I am looking for.  Thank you Brother for sharing.

This is my understanding now after reading your write up:

1.  Ahlul Bayt can have access to all knowledge (including of unseen) if they ask Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) for it.

2.  But they don't access the knowledge and act as ordinary person, and only by Will of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) they will ask for the knowledge.

When Aisha and Hafsa plotted against the Prophet (عليه السلام) as in surah Tahrim, the Prophet( saw) didn't know about it and was informed later.

That explained why many of those who were alive during the life time of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) could have doubted the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), because the Prophet acted as an ordinary person with good akhlaq.  And they think that they can supersede the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) in certain situation (e.g the right of Ali to succeed the Prophet).  Certainly, syaitans wanted and managed to deviate them in that manner that they trusted themselves more than Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام).  

Wassalam,

Layman.

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3 hours ago, .InshAllah. said:

This raises the question of how we deal with narrations that say that the Ahlul Bayt knew 'what was, and what will be and what won't be until the day of judgement'.

If their knowledge is of others and not of about themselves, their own future, etc. Then that would not contradict the sayings in question.

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1 hour ago, IbnSina said:

If their knowledge is of others and not of about themselves, their own future, etc. Then that would not contradict the sayings in question.

How about when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) during Ghadeer... he knew and made known to others that will be his last Hajj?

 

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4 minutes ago, layman said:

How about when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) during Ghadeer... he knew and made known to others that will be his last Hajj?

 

I think that is knowledge for the sake of others, otherwise he would not disclose that information.

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I believe that Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) may know about the future (maybe related to themselves too and not others) but they may not disclosed to others unless with permission of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).

I believe that Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is the City of Knowledge and Ali (عليه السلام) is the gate.  He knew much more but is restricted by Him (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Hadrat Khidir, knows a lot about future.

 

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I don't think it was called "igorance" while Prophet (S)) was already informed by plans of mushrikeen. He not only shared the details with Imam Ali (asws), ordered him to sleep on his bed & also asked Imam Ali (asws) to restore all the deposits of the pagans to their owners, and then to leave Makkah and to meet him in Yathrib.

So how it is a case of ignorance?

 

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1 hour ago, Salsabeel said:

So how it is a case of ignorance?

 

Maybe the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) was not sharing with others (except with Imam Ali) and case to case basis.

In some circumstances, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) may delay in informing the Prophet ( saw) and let the event took place first.  Then after informed the Prophet.

In SurahTahrim, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) was informed after the plot by Aisha and Hafsa.

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1 hour ago, layman said:

In some circumstances, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) may delay in informing the Prophet ( saw) and let the event took place first.  Then after informed the Prophet.

I am talking about one specific case mentioned in the OP. 

It is not that difficult to understand that there was no threat to the life of Imam Ali (asws) when Prophet (S) handing over to him the "amanaat" and asking him to return them back to their owners and commanding to meet with him in Yathrab. 

If Prophet (S) would be unsure about the life of Imam Ali ((عليه السلام)), he would not hand over him the trusts rather he would prefer to handover them to owners himself. On the other hand, this duty/responsibility itself would become a gladtiding for Imam Ali (asws).

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I do not think it is correct to say that the Ahl al-Bayt have access to all knowledge. This, in affect, is like saying they have the ability to becoming all-knowing.

We have explicit hadith that mention how only Allah knows certain things:

 الكافي: محمد بن إسماعيل، عن الفضل بن شاذان، عن حماد بن عيسى، عن ربعي بن عبدالله، عن الفضيل بن يسار قال: سمعت أبا جعفر عليه السلام يقول: العلم علمان: فعلم عند الله مخزون لم يطلع عليه أحدا من خلقه وعلم علمه وملائكته ورسله، فما علمه ملائكته ورسله فإنه سيكون، لا يكذب نفسه ولا ملائكته ولا رسله، وعلم عنده مخزون يقدم منه ما يشاء، ويؤخر منه ما يشاء، ويثبت ما يشاء

[10/368] al-Kafi: Muhammad b. Ismail from al-Fadhl b. Shadhan from Hammad b. Isa from Rib’I b. Abdallah from al-Fudhayl b. Yasar who said: I heard Aba Ja’far عليه السلامsaying: Knowledge is of two kinds. A knowledge with Allah which is hidden. No one has seen into it among his creation. And a knowledge which He taught His angels and messengers. So as for that which He taught His angels and messengers then it must occur. He does not belie Himself, nor His angels, nor His messengers. As for the the hidden knowledge with Him then He brings forward from it what He wills and puts back from it what He wills, and He establishes what He wills.       

الكافي: عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن ابن ابي عمير، عن جعفر ابن عثمان، عن سماعة، عن ابي بصير، ووهيب بن حفص، عن ابي بصير، عن أبي عبدالله عليه السلام قال: إن لله علمين: علم مكنون مخزون، لا يعلمه إلا هو، من ذلك يكون البداء وعلم علمه ملائكته ورسله وأنبياءه فنحن نعلمه

[5/363] al-Kafi: A number of our companions from Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa from Ibn Abi Umayr from Ja’far b. Uthman from Sama’a from Abi Basir (and Wuhayb b. Hafs from Abi Basir) from Abi Abdillah عليه السلام who said: Allah has two kinds of knowledge. A knowledge which is hidden and stored-up. No one knows it but Him. From that does Bada’ happen. And a knowledge which He taught His angels, messengers and Prophets. So we too do know it.     

I think the correct way to explain those ahadith about the Imams knowing ('what was, and what will be and what won't be until the day of judgement') are that they are referring to Islamic rulings.

Shaykh al-Mufid said that the only consensus amongst the Imamiyya is that the Imams have all knowledge of the rulings, but not everything.

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35 minutes ago, Follower of Ahlul Bayt said:

Shaykh al-Mufid said that the only consensus amongst the Imamiyya is that the Imams have all knowledge of the rulings, but not everything

I heard in a conclusion from Shia speaker Mr. Raefipoor in one of his speeches that Imams choose their knowledge & information by their choice of free will ,they can have access to all informations & knowledges but they choose between them based on situation & events  that they need at that time in order to access to which one of them , all knew that Imam Ali (عليه السلام) was digging holes in Earth in deserts in far places & was speaking to Earth to calm himself from weight of his knowledge that he had to hide from people of his time.

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I think the subject of "whether Imams have knowledge of all things or not" demands the question whether the book "Kitabin Mubeen" or "Imamin Mubeen" or "kitabin Maknoon" or "Ummul Kitab" contains knowledge of all things or not. What do you think? 

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11 hours ago, .InshAllah. said:

They can be said to know everything only in the sense of say a government official saying 'we know everything about you', I.e. there is a database that contains all the information about you that the government has access to, not that there is one person who has all the information about you in his mind.

 

I agree with the explanation

وَمَا يَعْلَمُ جُنُودَ رَبِّكَ إِلَّا هُوَ

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I think they have knowledge of everything but uses it ,in its time when Imam Mahdi (aj) reappears he knew all aspects of modern science for example he has full knowledge of Electronic engineering but if an Imam like as Imam Ali (عليه السلام) was using this knowledge in his time it has no use for him & people also may could lead to astraying other people that think he is a God .

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    قُل لآ اَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِي نَفْعاً وَلا ضَرّاً إِلاَّ مَا شَآءَ اللّهُ وَلَوْ كُنتُ اَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ لاَسْتَكْثَرْتُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ وَمَا مَسَّنِيَ السُّوءُ إِنْ اَنَا ْ إِلاَّ نَذِيرٌ وَبَشِيرٌ لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ

188. “Say: ‘I own for my self neither any benefit nor harm except what Allah may please; and had I known the Unseen, I would have acquired much good, and no evil would have touched me. I am not but a warner and a giver of glad tidings for a people who believe’.”

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There is no such thing as perfection unless it is Absolute and One.   No perfect circles or perfect squares exist even.  God is the perfection of everything (if you must say that such and such a thing is perfect which wouldn’t be correct technically).  

So this is a limitation of Shi’a Dogmatism/Theology which ought to be acknowledged if one wants to be true to themselves.  Nothing wrong with acknowledging a limit in dogmatic credal theology because the essence of Shiaism is not and should not be limited to its hard and rigid dogmatic borders which although are necessary are also limits (without those limits Shiaism would not be Shiaism after all).  But for those who of you who are intelligent (and all of you on this forum are, MashAllah) It might be better if you simply acknowledge such necessary limits which exist in all religious theologies and dogmas.  There comes a point where “tawhid of practice” begins to get compromised, and this is not a particular fault of Shiaism.  

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On 1/20/2019 at 3:52 PM, .InshAllah. said:

I heard from Aqā Mīrza Jafar Shīrāzī – from Tabrīz – regarding the knowledge of the Imams, he said: at times the knowledge of something can be perfection, while other times the ignorance of something can be perfection and Allah would take knowledge away from the Imams (a) in those later cases. For example, the night when Imam Ali (a) slept on the bed of the Prophet (p), if he had known that sleeping on the bed will not result in any harm, this would not have been an instance of perfection. The condition of perfection which was exhibited through the sacrifice of the Imam (a) is that he should not know, and he did not know. In cases where ignorance is a condition of acquiring perfection, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) takes away the knowledge.

Source: Dars Khārij of Āyatullah Sayyid Shubayrī Zanjāni, 23rd September 1995

https://www.iqraonline.net/the-martyrdom-of-lady-Zahra-s-and-maintaining-respect-on-both-the-first-and-second-fatimiyyah/

***

I wouldn't say that ignorance can be perfection, but rather that it is sometimes a prerequisite for performing a great deed and perfecting one's character. 

I know some people want to say that the Ahlul Bayt had complete knowledge of the unseen, but if that was the case then it would diminish the value of many of their actions.  This is the opposite of what you would expect, as being very knowledgeable is a praiseworthy trait, yet it does seem that too much knowledge in certain situations undermines the value of actions.  If Imam Ali (عليه السلام) knew beforehand that no harm would come to him when he slept in the Prophets (sawa) bed, then there was nothing special about him sleeping in the Prophet's bed.  What made his action special was the he was putting himself in harms way for the sake of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and the Prophet (sawa).  

For example, the night when Imam Ali (a) slept on the bed of the Prophet (p), if he had known that sleeping on the bed will not result in any harm, this would not have been an instance of perfection.

Meaning Imam Ameer ul Momineen AS knew the probability of an attack, and knew he could lose his life by being hit by multiple swords all at once. He did have the knowledge of the sacrifice, but he didn't know if the attack would materialize or not, or if executed, would succeed or not. 

Subhan Allah, what an amazing representatives of Allah they are, in every state they are in, they manifest the magnificence of their Lord. 

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Imam Ali(عليه السلام) perfection if one can call it such results from the saying of the Holy Prophet(sawws) 'to return the trusts and accompany the ladies to Medina'. Now this is absolute trust that even if injured etc he(عليه السلام) would be accompanying the ladies to Medina because the Holy Prophet(sawws) had said so. 

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Salam...

The knowledge of Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and Imams (عليه السلام).

I am giving a scenario for better understanding, I hope (at it is my understanding):

God has given trillions of dollars to one man.  Upon his death, he will pass the huge amount of money to his appointed successor.  And his successor will do the same up to 12 successors.

God say that you can have access to the money and can only give the money to the people upon My approval only.  Even to use the money on your personal needs, my get My permission.

Due to the above restriction imposed by God, these men can only live like ordinary people.  They cannot live beyond the ordinary.  

Majority of people call these men as ordinary rich people.  Only those few individuals knew that these men are super rich.

These men cannot spend the money freely because giving too much money to people will spoil them, too little will starve them.  Giving the money must on just enough based on need and time.  Must have occassions to give the money.  On any particular occasion, small among of money that enough for human consumption will be given.  General people will know that these men will give money accoding to their needs...not to much and not to little.  People also knows that these men are rich but no one knows the limits.  

Occasional these men will remind people that they are just ordinary rich men, inherited from their parent.  So they have savings.  If people knows how much reserved money at their disposal, they will kill them out of jealousy.  And they did.  Until the last one.  He still giving money to general people  who need and those who call to his help.

........

Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is Giver of knowledge to Ahlul Bayt(عليه السلام).  Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) has been given a very very very small portion of knowledge that what Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) know.  Infact, no comparison at all.  

However, that very very very small portion of knowledge is very very very big knowledge when compared to what we know as ordinary human beings.

Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) are trustee to distribute the small portion of that knowledge (not everything)...as glad tidings and warner.

They will give the knowledge according to the need level of people...by Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) permission and not according to their free wills because the knowledge belongs to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) completely.

 

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I think their limit was selective limit by themselves for example Imam Ali (عليه السلام) choose to don't know that attack will happen or not & put his trust to Allah & his messenger as Qur'an said

"And among the people is he who sells his soul seeking the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is most kind to [His] servants". Qur'an 2:207.

http://en.wikishia.net/view/Laylat_al-Mabit

 

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1 hour ago, Ashvazdanghe said:

I think their limit was selective limit by themselves for example Imam Ali (عليه السلام) choose to don't know that attack will happen or not & put his trust to Allah & his messenger as Qur'an said

"And among the people is he who sells his soul seeking the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is most kind to [His] servants". Qur'an 2:207.

http://en.wikishia.net/view/Laylat_al-Mabit

 

I think brother this is a very fine point and the choice to know only comes into play once any one of them are in the seat of wilaya so to speak.  They are protected for sure. This is how I understand it so could be wrong. 

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I believe that Imams(a) and even the Prophet (s) didnt know everything and that they just knew whatever God wished them to know. For example, Imam Mahdi doesnt know the exact time of his appearance or some Imams who were martyred by poison didnt know that what they were eating or drinking was poisonous.

Moreover, if they knew everything, it would mean that they knowledge was equal to knowledge of God which is not possible.

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I believe in the words of Prophet (S) as he said "ana madintul ilm" (I am the city of knowledge).

Every city has certain boundaries/limits, but how big is the city of knowledge, I can only wonder about it!

Only Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) knows the vastness of the city of knowledge. 

Surah Al-Alaq, Verse 5:

عَلَّمَ الْإِنسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ

Taught man what he knew not. (English - Shakir) 

Neither I know how much He has taught and what are the limits of "ma lam ya'lam". 

What I know for sure is that He has taught the Qur'an:

Surah Al-Rahman, Verse 2:

عَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ

Taught the Qur'an. (English - Shakir) 

And Qur'an do contain knowledge of everything:

Surah Al-Anaam, Verse 59:

وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلَّا يَعْلَمُهَا وَلَا حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْأَرْضِ وَلَا رَطْبٍ وَلَا يَابِسٍ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ

And with Him are the keys of the unseen treasures-- none knows them but He; and He knows what is in the land and the sea, and there falls not a leaf but He knows it, nor a grain in the darkness of the Earth, nor anything green nor dry but (it is all) in a clear book. (English - Shakir)

Surah Hud, Verse 6:

وَمَا مِن دَابَّةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا عَلَى اللَّهِ رِزْقُهَا وَيَعْلَمُ مُسْتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسْتَوْدَعَهَا كُلٌّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ

And there is no animal in the Earth but on Allah is the sustenance of it, and He knows its resting place and its depository all (things) are in a manifest book. (English - Shakir)

Surah An-Naml, Verse 75:

وَمَا مِنْ غَائِبَةٍ فِي السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ

And there is nothing concealed in the heaven and the Earth but it is in a clear book. (English - Shakir) 

And there are many more verses too. Are there books other than Qur'an too? Like Qur'an uses terms like "ummul kitab" & "kitabin maknoon". Are these books something other than Qur'an?

What is interesting is that there is at least somrone other than Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) & Prophet (S) who have been mentioned as witness in the last verse of chapter 13 and who has "ilmul kitab".

Surah Ar-Rad, Verse 43:

وَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَسْتَ مُرْسَلًا قُلْ كَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكُمْ وَمَنْ عِندَهُ عِلْمُ الْكِتَابِ

And those who disbelieve say: You are not a messenger. Say: Allah is sufficient as a witness between me and you and whoever has knowledge of the Book. (English - Shakir)

We do know "wa man indahu ilmul kitab" as well as "imamin mubeen" of the following verse:

Surah Ya Seen, Verse 12:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ وَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا وَآثَارَهُمْ وَكُلَّ شَيْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَاهُ فِي إِمَامٍ مُّبِينٍ

Surely We give life to the dead, and We write down what they have sent before and their footprints, and We have recorded everything in a clear writing. (English - Shakir)

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