Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Straight Path - a Shia perspective

I asked the author of the Temple of the Living Imam blog for permission to re post one of his posts on Siratal Mustaqim. I also asked him for a brief bio. Here's his response in his own words and the text of the post:

Ok, let's see, what's important? I am a high school English teacher in rural Pennsylvania, father of three, grew up near Reading, PA, a good Catholic boy. A chance encounter with Islam during college sparked my spiritual interest and launched a ten-year trek through the Muslim world in search of the Imam. The Imam is a reality that constantly gives way to ever deepening understandings, and the blog is a way of recording personal encounters with this reality, whether through text or through spirit. Does that help? Let me know if there's anything else I can do for you! Brian

Monday, January 19, 2009

In reference to the entry of a couple days ago on the sirat al-mustaqeem, from the batini Twelver Shia exegesis of Sharaf al-Din Astrabadi called Ta'wil al-Ayat al-Dhahira fi Fadha'il al-'Itrat al-Tahira: "The path [mentioned in Surat al-Fatiha] is actually twofold. The path in this world and the Bridge in the Hereafter. As for the path in this world, that is Amir al-Mu'mineen, may peace be upon him. The one who is led to his wilayat in this world succeeds upon the Bridge in the Hereafter, and the one who is not led to his wilayat in this world does not succeed upon the Bridge in the Hereafter."

The interpretation of the verse reveals the dhahir-batin dichotomy present in so much of Islamic esoterism. According to this view, the Imam is the referent of most of the verses of the Holy Qur'an, even those that appear to be referencing something mundane and non-spiritual in nature. One can ask, "What is this path?" or "What is this Bridge?", and the answer will come,
"It is the Imam." But then the next question must be, "What is the Imam?"

That is a much more challenging question to answer, and that is the batin of the batin.

Note on translation: The words "path" and "Bridge" here are translated from the same Arabic word, sirat. By convention, the word sirat in the context of al-Fatiha is expressed as "path", while in the specific context of the description of the trials of the Hereafter is expressed as "Bridge".

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