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The conditions for an ideal object of worship

The Lord of the World, as presented in the Quran, possesses all the necessary conditions of an ideal object of worship. He is the creator of love and all forms of beauty, the originator of all forms of power and energy. He is a vast ocean on the slightest ripple of whose surface the swimmer of the intellect is tossed around like a play thing. It is He Who preserves the heavens from falling and the earth from collapsing.If, for an instant, He closes His eye of mercy or averts it from this world, the whole of the universe will perish and hurtle toward non-being in the form of dust. The existence and survival of every atom in the universe is, therefore, dependent on Him. It is He Who bestows all bounties and all felicities, Who owns us and may freely dispose of us. When He commands and an order goes forth, as soon as He says, "Be!," a creature comes into being. Truth and reality derive their substance from His essence, and freedom, justice, and other virtues and perfections derive from the rays of His attributes.

To take flight towards Him, seek to draw near to His glorious threshold, is to attain all conceivable desire at the highest degree. Whoever gives his heart to God, gains an affection ate companion and a loving friend; the one who relies upon Him has placed his hope on a firm foundation, while the one who attaches his heart to other-than-God is a prey to illusion and builds a foundation on wind. He Who is aware of the slightest motion that takes place any where in creation can also determine for us a path leading to happi ness and lay down a way of life and a system of human relations that conforms to the norms He has established in the order of creation.He is, after all, aware of our true interests, and it is even his right alone to lay down a path for us as the logical outcome and natural consequence of His divinity. To act in accordance with the program He lays down is the only certain guarantee for our ascent toward Him. How is it possible that man should be so enamored of truth and justice that he is ready to sacrifice his life for their sake, unless he is aware of their source and origin? If a being is worthy of worship, it cannot be anyone other than the Creator Who is the axis of all being.

No thing and no person has such a rank as to deserve the praise and service of man. All values other than God lack absoluteness and primacy and do not subsist in and of themselves; they are relative and serve only as a means for the attainment of degrees higher than themselves. The primary qualities that elicit man's worship are being the bestower of all bounties and being aware of all the possibilities, needs, capacities and energies contained in man's body and soul.

These qualities belong exclusively to God; all beings stand in need of and rely upon th t being Who is existent by by virtue of His own essence. The caravan of existence is constantly moving toward Him by means of His aid, and His commands descend unceasingly of every speck in the universe. Absolute submission and worship belong, then, exclusively to His Most Sacred Essence. His glorious presence, uninterrupted by a single moment of absence, is felt at the heart of each atom of being.All things other than God resemble us in that impotence and deficiency prevail over them. They are, therefore, unworthy of our submission and are not worthy of usurping sovereignty over any part of God's realm, which is the whole broad plain of existence. Man, too, is too noble and valuable a being to be subjected and humbled by anything other than God. In the whole broad plain of being, it is God alone Who deserves man's praise.

Man must grant to his love of God, to his efforts to draw near to Him and earn His pleasure, precedence over all other beings and objects of love. This will result in the ennobling of man and, the augmenting of his value, for man is but a small drop and if not united with the ocean, he will be swept away by the storm of corruption, dried up by the burning sun of chaos. Man gains his true personality and becomes eternal when he attaches himself to that effulgent source, when God gives meaning to his world and becomes the interpreter of all the events of his life.

It is in this sense that men's worlds may be either broad and expansive or narrow and constricting. The Commander of the Faithful, Ali, peace be upon him, says, in discussing the weaknesses of man and his limited capacities: How strange and remarkable is the affair of man! If he becomes hopefull with regard to a certain desire, greed will render him abject; desire will lead to greed, and greed will destroy him. If he falls prey to hopelessness, grief and sorrow will kill him. If he attains happiness and good fortune, he will fail to preserve them. If he falls prey to terror and fear, they will reduce him to utter confusion. If bundant safety is granted him, he will become negligent. If his blessings are restored to him, he will become arrogant and rebel ous.If he is stricken with misfortune, sorrow and grief will disgrace him. If he acquires wealth, he will become overweening. If poverty lays hold of him, he will be plunged in misery. If he is weakened by hunger, he will be unable to rise from the ground. If he eats to excess, the pressure of his stomach will discomfort him. So all deficiency in the life of man is harmful, and all excess leads to corruption and ruin."

Generally speaking, justice, nobility, virtue and other qualities that earn respect and praise must either be illusionary and imagi nary, or we must consider these values as real and necessary, based on the perceptions of conscience and instinct. In the latter case, we ought humbly to submit to that universal existence and absolute perfection which flows over with virtue, life and power, and from which all values derive. When we look into the matter carefully, we see that all the countless beings that exist in the world, as well as the love and aspirations that are rooted in the depths of our being, all converge at one point, all revert to one source God.

The very essence and reality of the world is identical with its connection, relation and attachment to God. Being reascends by a different route to the point where it began and from which it descended, and that point alone is worthy of man's love and devotion. Once man discovers this point, he becomes so enamored of its absolute beauty and perfec tion that he forgets all else. We see that all phenomena have emerged from non-being into a state of being, and that throughout the period of their existence, whether short or long, they are dependent on a source external to themselves for aid and sustenance; they are marked indelibly with subordination and lack of autonomy.

If the ideal object of worship we seek and toward which we are attempting to advance were unaware of the pains we suffer and the nature of the world; if it were unable to satisfy our desires and long ings, being replete with impotence and deficiency just like our selves and belonging to the same category as us-it could not possibly be our final aim and ultimate object or possess absolute value.When we seek the fulfillment of a wish by means of our worship, it is God alone Who can respond by meeting our needs. The Quran says: "Those whom you call upon other than God are servants like yourselves (i.e., they have no power of themselves)." The Commander of the Faithful, upon whom be peace, while supplicating his Lord in the mosque of Kufa, said: "O my Master, O my Master! You are God the Great and I am your wretched and insignificant slave.

Who can show mercy to His insignificant but God the Great? O Master of mine, O Master of mine! You are strong and powerful, I am weak and impotent; other than one strong and powerful, who can show mercy to the weak? "O Master of mine, O Master of mine! You it is Who bestows generosity on the beggar, and I stand as a beggar at your threshold. Who will show mercy to the beggar other than the generous and the munificent one? "O Master of mine, O master of mine! You are eternal existence and I am a creature destined to perish. Who will have mercy on one destined to perish other than the eternal, everlasting essence? "O Master of mine, O Master of mine! You are the guide Who points out the way, and I am lost and bewildered.

Who will take pity on the lost and bewildered if not the guide Who points out the way? "O Master of mine, O Master of mine! Have mercy upon me by Your infinite mercy; accept and be satisfied with me in Your generosity, favor and kindness, O God, possessor of generosity, favor and kindness, and in Your all-embracing mercy, O most merciful of the merciful!" Thus, to show reverence to other-than-God, to orient oneself to God and His Attribuother than His pure essence, is in no way justifiable; apart from God, nothing can have the slightest effect on our true destiny. If an object of worship deserves man's devotion and love and is capable of lifting him to the peaks of felicity, that object of worship must be free of all deficiency and inadequacy.

Its eternal rays must touch all creatures with sustenance and life, and its beauty must cause every possessor of insight to kneel down in front of it. Possessing infinite power, it quenches the burning thirst of our spirits, and gaining knowledge of it, is nothing other than attaining the ultimate source of our true nature. If we choose an object of love and worship other than God, it may have certain capacities and be able to fulfill our desires up to a point, but once we reach that point, it will no longer be an object of love and worship for us.It will no longer be able to arouse and attract us; it will, on the contrary, cause us to stagnate. For not only will it not satisfy our instinctive desire to worship, it will prevent us from reflecting on any higher value and imprison us in a narrow circle, in such a way that we no longer have any motive to advance or ascend.

If the object we choose to worship and love be inferior to us, it can never cause us to ascend and refine our beings. Our inclination to it will, on the contrary, drag us down to decline, and we will, then, be like the needle of a compass which is diverted from the pole under the influence of a completely alien magnetic field. The result will be total loss of direction; eternal misery will become man's inevitable destiny.  

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Lord of the World Quran

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