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Prophet Hood

Prophet Hood

Author:
Publisher: www.alhassanain.org/english
English

www.alhassanain.org/english

Prophet Hood

Author: Al-Shia.org

www.alhassanain.org/english

Notice:

This versionis published on behalf of www.alhassanain.org/english

The composing errorsare not corrected .

Table of Contents

Preface 5

Supplement 1 8

To Which Class Of Society do The Prophets Belong? 11

How are Prophets chosen? 16

Duties and Responsibilities of the Prophets 19

The Continuity of Prophet hood 24

The End of Prophet hood 29

The Believer' Status Before, After and at the Time of the Prophets' Appearance 32

The Three-Act Play of people's Status 34

FOOTNOTES 36

Preface

Prophethood is among the subjects which have been dealt with in theNahj-ul-Balagha and a discussion about which can help us understand one of the basic principles of Islam. In fact, it is not only a subject which can be followed throughout theNahj-ul-Balagha but one of the most important and fundamental principles of Islamic ideology.

I have repeatedly mentioned in various discussions that in order to analyze and understand the numerous matters of Islamic thought and ideology, the principle of prophet hood is an axis around which these matters can be discussed as well. As -to the principle of monotheism, we believe that its social and revolutionary dimensions can only be clarified when we discuss it within the vast spectrum of the matters concerning prophet hood.

Accordingly, our method in this chapter is to point out and analyze the different dimensions of prophet hood and to support our discussion with an explanation of Ali'sibn Abi Talib's sayings wherever necessary. In this manner, two aims will be fulfilled, i.e. some important sections of theNahj-ul-Balagha will be translated and interpreted, andan issues among the basic Islamic principles will be made apparent.

It is tobe mentioned at the beginning that in the discussion about prophet hood, revelation and its relevant matters will not be discussed. Rather, prophet hoodwill be viewed as a historical reality and an unquestionable event. Undoubtedly, prophet hood has existed as a phenomenon in the history ofmankind.

There is no difference of opinionin this regard between us and those who disbelieve in lt. However, the difference lies in the interpretation of this event and the message it conveys. In fact, no one denies such personalities as Moses,Jesus and other Prophets whether or not the history of their lives be more or less known or vague. History reports that all of them have existed.

Therefore, prophet hood will be considered as a historical event in our discussion and the following questions will be answered in theanalysis which follows:

1. What was the social background (social, temporal and historical situation) when this event occurred?

2. Where did this event originate? Did it appear among the kings, the oppressed, thescholars and thinkers... which class of people?

3. What position did it enjoy? Was it to the benefit of a special class ofpeople ?Was it directed towards material advantages? 'Was it directed towards mystical and spiritual aspects of life? What was its social and intellectual direction?

4. Whatwas the pros and cons when the Prophet first offered his message? Who were those who opposed it and to which class of the society did they belong? What were their motives and means of opposition? Who were in favor of it and to which class did they belong? What were their motives and how did they assist the Prophet?

5. What was the aim behind the message of prophet hood?Was prophet hood aimed at material welfare?Was it aimed at class distinction?Was it aimed at enhancing the level of people's knowledge and understanding?Was it aimed at opposing or accounting for the powers of the time?

6. Did the Prophet call the people? Was it 'monotheism' with its social, political,economic and revolutionary dimensions?

Answering these questions, with regard to Islamic texts and records, will shed light on different aspects of this social reality and will acquaint us with a vast scope of Islamic thought. Ofcourse theNahj-ul-Balagha will be the axis of our discussion, although different verses of the Holy Qur'an as well as mental reasoning may be of great help both in answering the questions and in interpreting All's words.

The firstquestion which is relevant is "What grounds were available for the manifestations of prophet hood?" What was the social,economic and historical setting for the appearance of the Prophets?And among which class of people have they appeared? TheNahj-ul-Balagha has answered these questions on several occasions. In the first sermon, speaking about monotheism, the creation of heavens and the earth, the angels and other matters, the appearance of the Prophets and the background to prophet hood in generalare discussed as well.

We read the preceding sentence so that the connection to this matteris made clear.

From his progeny (Adam) God chose prophets and took their pledge for His revelation and for carrying His message as their trust. In the course of time, many people perverted God's trust withthem and ignored His position and took partners along with Him. Satan turned them away from knowing Him and kept them aloof from His worship.

Then sent His messengers and series of His prophets towards them to let them fulfill the pledges of His creation, to recall to them his bounties....3 The last part of this quotation reveals some peculiarities of the community in the 'Age of Ignorance', in which Prophets were sent by God to people. These peculiaritiesare hereunder explained .

It says that 'in course of time many people perverted God's' trust. The Holy Qur'an speaks about 'ahd on several occasions, examples of whichare given below,

"Thy Lord has decreed you shall not serve any but Him " (17:23) "Made I not covenant with you, children of Adam, that you should not serve Satan - surely he is a manifest foe to you ?" (36:60) "... and God made them testify concerning themselves, 'Am I not your Lord?'they said,' Yes, we testify " (7:172)

These verses imply that God's covenant ('ahd ) is to abstain from servitude to Satan, that man's servitude should be exclusively for God and that human beings have primordially admitted that they are servants of God and should serve Him alone.

This is the meaning of 'ahd (trust and covenant)to which the Commander of the Faithful refers in theNahj-ul-Balagha . In fact, he says that most of the people broke their allegiance with God and disobeyed His commands by worshipping idols, taking partners (holders of power and possessions) along with Him, imposing themselves on other people as worship-deservingidols and perverting the divine decree through ignoring or exclusive obedience to God.

Supplement1

It was under these conditions, the Commander of the Faithful asserts, that God brought about prophet hood and appointed His Prophets.This is also emphasized in other statements of the first Sermon after describing the appearance of the Prophet of Islam and not the appearance of the prophets at large, although the social conditions and mental atmosphere in which all the Prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others, have appeared have been the same, and thus what is said about the Prophet of Islam fits other Prophets as well.

„The statements run as under the people of the earth at this time were divided in different Parties, their aims wereseparate and their ways were diverse.They either likened God with His creation or twisted His Names or turned to other than Him. .., "4

It says that the Prophet was appointed to prophet hood at a time when people were divided in groups with different ways of thinking, i.e.. a universal mentality did not govern the is minds of all people, which indicates the lack of an acceptable culture at that time, separation among people and, finally, ignorance. It continues with the statement that 'their aims were separate'. This has two implications.

The simple one is that in different parts of the community or in different corners of the world people enjoyed desires and manners of their own. The members of each community or class of people favoredsomething which the members of other classes and communities despised. In fact, thesociety at large lacked a common aim and aspiration, which shows the decline of that society.

The second implication is that there was not more than a few poles of power throughout the world at that time, and they wereSassanian Kings, Roman Emperors, EthiopianSultans and other despots, dictators and idols who stood at the peak of their communities, ruling over the people with tyranny and according to their own aims, desires and self-centeredness.

The existence of insufficiencies and oppression in the Iranian community, the existence of impenetrable classes among the people, the boundless mastery of Brahmans, aristocrats and soldiers over the lower classes and the existence of moral, cultural, economic and class tyrannies, the pressure of which tortured the people, were all a manifestation of the sensuality and selfishness of the idols (kings) who possessed the leadership of the Iranian community. Thus, the whims and desires of a minority dominated all the affairs of a majority ofmankind.

„They likened God with His creation". It implies that those people who, according to their nature and spiritual feelings, believed in the existence of adiety and a creator, found it in the form of creatures and small, imperfect beings. Some of them worshipped cows as their gods. Others worshipped stone or wooden idols. In fact, all the people were in some way oranother worshippers of God as their nature demanded but they were devoid of a perfect knowledge concerning God. This was themost manifest perversion.

"They twisted His Names or turned to other than Him». This was a kind of mental deviation prevailing among the believers of God. They were actually so involved in the Name of God that they could not take step beyond it. In ancient times, for example, those who had a vague view of God in their minds, being unable to know God perfectly, turned to His Names Allah,Mannan orIlah and worshipped them.

They were ignorant of the reality of God. Another examplecan be observed in the extremist ideologies of today. Advocates of these ideologies claim to believe in God but if theyare asked what God is, they cannot explain the true concept and meaning of this word. Rather, they take the 'whole existence', the rules governing nature and the cause and effect, conventions current in nature and history to be a god.

They lack the ability to know the real meaning of God, i.e. to know Him as an independent 'Necessary Being' who is undoubtedly the Creator of this universe rather than being Himself the universe. They cannot perceive this reasonable, philosophical concept. Thus, they are confused about the Name and the real Being of God.

Naturally, wisdom, love, knowledge, spiritual attractions and moral Attributes, all of which originate from monotheism and a knowledge of God, do not develop in them and, therefore, prayers, incantations and the wise prayers of ImamSajjad , peace be upon him, for example, become meaningless to them. Accordingly, what such people worship is 'God' as a word without being concerned with its meaning and concept. This is a sign of the decline and deviation of religious as well as a characteristic of the people who lived at the time when Prophets appeared.

In the second Sermon, the Commander of the faithful has more detailed statements concerning the social background to the appearance of the prophets.

They run as follows „At that time people had fallen in to vices whereby the rope of religion had been broken, the pillars of belief had been shaken, principles had beensacrileged , systems had becometopsy turvy , openings were narrow, passages were dark, guidance was unknown and darkness prevailed. Godwas being disobeyed . Satanwas given support and Belief had been forsaken.

As a result, the pillars of religion fell down, its traces could not be discerned, its passages had beendestroyed and its streets had fallen into decay.People obeyed Satan and tread his paths. They sought water from his watering places. Through them Satan's emblems and his standard was raised invices which trampled the people under their hoofs, and treaded upon them with their feet.

The vices stood on their toes (in full stature) and the people immersed in themwere strayed,perplexen , ignorant and seduced as though in a good house with bad neighbors . Instead ofsleep they had wakefulness and for antimony they had tears in the eyes. They were in a land where the learned were in bridles (keeping their mouths shut) while the ignorant were honored." 5

This is a very beautiful and artistic picture (in the form of an ordinary lecture from the pulpit) of the social conditions in the age of ignorance, in which the Commander of the Faithful portrays the adversities, deficiencies and disorders casting shadows over the people's life- the people who were mentally bewildered andperplexen and who did not know the aim and purpose of life.

Wecan easily and clearly understand the meaning of these words of his, because they provide us with an exact portrait of the situation of our own time, when the Iranian nation was severely oppressed and fell victim to the tyrannies brought upon it by the Pahlavi executioners and American mercenaries.

In fact, what in this Sermon and other Sermonshas been expressed about the background to the appearance of the Prophets (which the writer used to interpret consciously in connection with the situations of strangulation at the Pahlavi time conforms exactly to the conditions under which we lived during the Pahlavi rule).

In those days, especially in the last three years of the Pahlavi reign, the people were so mentally deceived and misled that they got on the buses and trucks in many cities, applauded, played the flute and shouted, „Long live the Shah".Meanwhile, the awakened conscience of a group of people was severely wounded; yet, this was not the common conscience of our community, for even those who refrained from participating in such shows, whether they were government employees, clergymen of other classes of people, accepted the ways and procedures of the ruling regime by their indifferent and apathetic behavior towards the prevailing situation.

The people were actually bewildered and dead. No one was aware of the aim behind his daily labor. They worked day and night but they were ignorant of the aim, aspiration and the future for the achievement of which human beings endeavor. The similitude of them was the like similitude of the 'mill donkey'who constantly moves in a circular direction and never reaches an end.

They were endowed with the best dwellings and lands, having all the God-given bounties and with the territory of human conscience,faculties and beauties which have been hidden but now have bloomed in our revolutionary boys and girls, fathers and mothers. In fact, such a blessed background existed in people but the 'neighbors were bad' in the words of the Commander of the Faithful, i.e. the rulers and holders of power were incompetent and dishonest.

On the whole, under such conditions which he recounts in the above-quoted statements, and we experienced in our own time, the Prophets were appointed to prophet hood. We shall, God-willing, give more details about the background to prophet hood, as pointed out in the Commander of theFaithful's words, which are very important so far as the philosophy of history is concerned, and which is misunderstood by some deviated individuals who draw wrong.

To Which ClassOf Society do The Prophets Belong?

In thischapter we are going to discuss the social origins of the Prophets themselves, i.e., to find out the social class to which the Prophets belonged. We are going to see whether they belonged to the rich people,aristocrats and holders of worldly power or to the poor, the needy and the deprived. It is, in fact, very import-ant to know the social and economic classes from which the Prophets have arisen in the course of history, founded monotheistic movements and revolutions and provided the masses with divine words and messages.

The Holy Qur'an, theTraditions and theNahj-ul-Balagha are rich sources which can help us in the analysis of this matter, but here the emphasis is only on the words of theNahj-ul-Balagha . In the long and famous sermon of al-Qasi'ah (the Sermon of Disparagement) there are statements which deserve careful reflection and which offer information concerning the matter being discussed.

The statements run as follows: "Certainly , if God were to allow anyone to indulge in pride, He would have allowed it to His selected prophets and vicegerents.But God, the Sublime, disliked vanity for them and liked humbleness for them. Therefore, they laid their cheeks on the ground, smeared their faces with dust, bent themselves down for thebelievers and remained humiliated people (they were from the oppressed people). God tested them with hunger, afflicted them with difficulties, tested them with fear, and upset them with troubles." 6

Here, the Commander of the Faithful speaks about pride and vanity and emphasizes that since God disliked these two qualities, He misrepresented them in the eyes of His Prophets and righteous beings. Therefore, the Prophets hated self-deceit and superiority complexes, but liked humbleness and humility.

Thus, they bent themselves down for the believers, lived among the lowest classes of the people, rubbed their faces with the dust (in prostration) beforeGod and refrained from indulging in haughtiness. They did, in effect, what the Holy Qur'an orders tobe done to the parents. It says: "... and lower to them (one's parents) the wing of humbleness out of mercy " (17:24)

TheProphets., according to the Commander of the Faithful were from the oppressed masses of the people. They knew the, pains and agonies of the needy. They felt, for instance, what hunger was, because God had tried them with hunger. The Holy Qur'an quotes Moses, peace be upon him, to have said, "Oh God!I need what you shall send me.

" According to narrations, Moses, peace be upon him, was hungry and implored God in this manner to send him bread so that he could satiate his hunger. Thus, the Prophets felt the pains of hungry people. They had tasted the sufferings of life. They knew well the troubles of hard physical labor in cold and hot weathers. They understood the meaning of hardship.

Timidity and the state of being fearful are characteristics of the oppressed. They are usually fearful of the future, poverty and the dominance of a powerful hand over their destinies. They are always worried and in a state of mental disturbance, concerning the existing situations and the coming conditions. They expect at any moment tobe put under pressure by a Powerful oppressor.

Likewise, the Prophets suffered from such fears and anxieties and, to say the least,were so surrounded by hardships and difficulties as to become pure in the same way as gold derives its purity under the pressure of very hot temperature. In fact, the Prophets were not pampered individuals to suddenly come Out of their Palaces and call the people to make a revolution.

There was a close link between them and the common people. They had, like all members of the society been subjected to ignorance, tasted the pains and sufferings oflife and then became worthy to be called 'Prophets'.

The Definition of the Deprived (mustad'af )

A society dominated by ignoranceis always made up of two groups of people. One group consists of those who make Plans, administersociety and have total authority over all affairs. The other group consists of the subjects and subordinates who have nothing to do with different affairs of society. They work hard (and thus they are not good-for-nothings as they are usually called, compared for example, to the amount of work Pharaoh performed with the slaves in building the Pyramids), but they have no right to apply their will, personality and points of view in the administration of the affairs of their society.

The first group is a minority consisting of the powerful families and dynasties with various degrees of authority over society. Theyare called 'the arrogant' (mustakbirin ). The second group are the common people and the masses who are regarded as the weak and who are devoid of authority whatsoever. Theyare called 'the deprived' (mustad'afin ). Our own country, during the corrupt regime of Pahlavi,was administered by a limited number of individuals, with the Shah at the head of them. It is true that an institution named the 'National Consultative Assembly' existed but all the decisionswere made by the Shah and his American advisers and dictated to the members of the Assembly, who had no will of their own .

At the lower levels, decisions were made by the big money makers who acted in collusion with governmental personages, bygovernor generals and so forth. In fact, the total authoritywas centralized in the hands of one person, the Shah. If all the ministers, Assembly members, director generals and the like agreed on something, but the Shah opposed; it was his will anddecision which prevailed.

The rest of the people, i.e. the masses, had no authority (even over their own destinies) tohnterfere with the affairs pertaining to foreign relations (with Russia and America, for instance), internal industries, agriculture, animal husbandry, etc. let alone matters concerning religion and morality. They had no right to meddle with the total course of affairs of their society due to the absolute lack of democracy, voting `nd elections in the country.

This state of affairs is nowadays an obvious characteristic of all socialist countries but in a more respectable form, i.e. one party (the Communist Party) possesses the total power and authority in administering the affairs of these countries. In fact,all the affairs of these countries are determined by the high governmental cadres, supreme councils and the general secretary himself . Other people have no right to express their viewpoints, and their will and decisionsare not taken for granted.

Thus, mental development is repressed in such countries, and perhaps this is why the youth usually engage in Sports and physical training and blossom out as the first rate athletes in international competition such as the Olympics as we observed in the recent Olympicgames held in Russia.

In western societies, too, the situation is more or less the same (mostly in the so-called civilized countries of America and Europe where 'freedom' and 'democracy' have widespread literal application). Nowadays, there are unfortunately some people who try to transform freedom and democracy to western conceptions of freedom and democracy, without knowing that the West itself is bereft of real freedom; (in America, West Germany and the likes,

people imagine that they elect their representatives freely whereas the reality is that it is specific currents which lead them to one side or another to cast their votes in favor of one party or another. Recent elections in America and the conflicts between the Democratic and Republican parties are the best evidence, verifying this reality).

Generally speaking, in all countries of the world, people are divided into two classes: the deprived and the arrogant. The deprived masses are themselves two groups: the needy and the non-needy.In fact, a poor and wretched peasant who performs fifteen hours of physical labor a day under the difficulties of rain, snow and hot weather and one who lives an ordinary life, being a shopkeeper, or employee, etc., without suffering so much, are both in the category of the deprived, because both of them are considered to be worthless and good-for-nothing and are devoid of the right to participate in the administration of their society.

According to the Commander of the Faithful in the quoted Sermon, the Prophets belonged to the deprived classes and, like them,have been deprived of the authority to carry out a responsibility in their society. A historical review of the life-accounts of Muhammad, peace and the mercy of Godbe upon him and his descendants, and other Prophets will clarify this matter further.

Moses, peace be upon him, was born to a deprived family among the children of Israel who lived under severe pressures.But after birth he was brought in a completely arrogant house and became a favorite with the Pharaoh's family although he had not been born of the Pharaoh's wife. He was brought up under the best living possibilities, the most deliciousfood and different kinds of luxuries (as a perfect aristocrat). Then, when Pharaoh noticed that he was nourishing an enemy within his house, Moses decided to escape.

In fact, Moses had begun his invitation and calling people to God, had started his revolutionary propagations within the royalpalace and had succeeded in converting the Pharaoh's wife to submission to God when Pharaoh experienced a feeling of danger and decided to prosecute him. Moses escaped to Egypt.

To say the least, Moses became a Prophet and invited the people to make a revolution when he was within the royal house and at the peak of arrogance (this biographical account of Moses is narrated in the Qur'an, and no use was made here of the Traditions).

Our Prophet, Muhammad, peace and the mercy of God be upon him and his descendants was born in a tribal house of high rank. He was the grandson of and a favorite with 'Abd al-Muttalib , the chief of Mecca (although he was, unlike Pharaoh, a pious, chief and a believer in God).When his father, Abdullah, who was one of the dearest children of 'Abd al-Muttalib , died in youth, the latter brought up Muhammad, peace and the mercy of God be upon him and his descendants, until he became four years of age (although Moses was the favorite with a great emperor and Muhammad with a tribal chief, both of them enjoyed the favor of highly respectful families).

Then 'Abd al-Muttalib passed away and Muhammad came under the guardianship of his uncle AbuTalib who did not enjoy the same respect as his father, 'Abd al-Muttalib , but who was himself a distinguished personality, not belonging to the masses.

AbuTalib acted as a good guardian for aperiod of time and then he was afflicted with poverty. Thus, Muhammad lost the (financial) support of his uncle at this time.But before long he marriedKhadija , a rich woman. He first acted as a functionary toKhadija but later on, (fifteen years before his appointment to prophet hood) he married her, thus becoming a relatively rich man in Medina.

Thevery financial state remained with him until he became a Prophet at the age of forty (this is why it is said that Islam advanced throughKhadija's wealth and Ali's sword).

Accordingly, the Prophet of Islam was born to an aristocratic family and lived a comfortable and affluent life untilhe was appointed to prophet hood by God . After the appointment, however, due to the high expenses of propagation and calling people to monotheism and due to the lack of opportunity for conducting business, he became poor.

Other prophets, too, were more or less wealthy. It is in the Traditions (although there is no clear, historical accounts available) that Job, for example, possessed lands, gardens and trees which were destroyed when God wanted to test his belief. David, too, had a rural origin. He was a commoner. Yet he became a commander and a ruler. Solomon was born in the house of this commander (David).

In fact, this chosen Prophet of God (although there is no difference between him and Moses as far as his purity, piety,revolutionary spirit and prophet hood are concerned) was the son of a ruler. Abraham was born in the house of an idol-carver, and the history of nations and religions reveals that idol-carvers were not only not among the low, deprived classes but were also consideredto be saintly and respectable.

Wecome to the conclusion , therefore, that a considerable number (not all of them) of the Prophets have been brought up among affluent and powerful families. Thus, we have two points here tobe considered along with each other: First, in the Commander of the Faithful saying that Prophets have belonged to the deprived and humble masses of the people. Second, the Prophets (some of them), as we see above, have been born among the socially, comfortable families of high ranks.

Are these two realities incompatible? No It is not the main point here to see whether they are compatible or not,The main point is to nullify the (communists') imaginary legend that all the revolutionary agents have originated from the proletarian, bare-footed and needy classes. What is essential is that a revolutionary person (be he a leader of the revolution or a commoner) should be dressed with revolutionary morals and Attributes.

Materialists and the interpreters of Marxism, in fact, hold a wrong belief that only those individuals can enjoy revolutionary morals and Attributes who themselves belong to the poor, bare-footed or proletarian classes, for man is always and everywhere a human being and thus corrigible. He can,like the Prophets about whom Ali says, "They were from the deprived people," equip himself with correct, revolutionary habits and with the attributes of the deprived.

It is true that aristocratic training and education entail no result but an aristocrat human being, yet it is untrue to believe that such an education (in a person whois brought up in an aristocratic atmosphere) is unchangeable and indestructible.In fact, should divine guidance (either in the form of thinking, meditation and the awakening of conscience of the individuals themselves or through training and purification of the soul by the teachers of morality, i.e. the Prophets) enlighten the sick bodies of those who are under the influence of aristocratic habits and training, they would come out of their spiritual depression and become dressed with revolutionarydispositions.nclusions on the basis of theiri ?????

Howare Prophets chosen ?

What are the Prophets' responsibilities towards God? What is the social,cultural and intellectual background in which the Prophets appear? To answer these questions, we analyze the following statements of the first Sermon of theNahj-ul-Balagha . "From his progeny (Adam), God chose (istafa ) Prophets and took their pledge for His revelation and for carrying His message as their trust."

Istafa (to choose the best) is a very important and fundamental issue. In Arabic, not all selectionsare indicated by this word. Only when a pure element is recognized and chosen from amongst a collection of elements is the 'istafa ' used. Itis actually employed when the pure and the impure are separated in a collection of things and the pure portion is extracted.

As far as physical and spiritual aspects of humanity are concerned, the Prophets have been ordinary human beings but, at the same time, they have possessed the competence needed for gaining high ranks and positions. Accordingly, they have been selected, distinguished individuals, born of parents none of whom have been involved in polytheism and human Corruption Thus 'istqfa ' in its general sense implies that a trained and educated Generation deliver a more trained Generation to society.

As an example, the Prophet of Islam was born in a pure and holy family, from a father and mother who were, in turn, distinguished from the point of spirituality and morals (and not on the basis of race, blood, wealth and aristocratic privileges). In fact, 'Abdullah was superior to all fathers andAmina was superior to all mothers. These two spiritually trained beings married and provided society with a child nobler to all children, a betterspiritually-trained being.

So much is certain that the Prophets who appeared before Moses; peace be upon him, enjoyed lesser spirituality than those who came after him and after Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, for every Prophet has been the product of the training and education brought by the Prophets before him, i.e. the prevailing divine and spiritual training provided by past Prophets have been quite influential for the growth of the coming ones. Thus, the Commander of the Faithful uses the word 'istafa ' to indicate that God has appointed those beings to prophet hood who have had this spiritual training.

"... and took their ledge for His revelation and for carrying his message as their trust." Here the Commander of the Faithful mentions the Prophets' commitments and says that they are committed in two respects:First they have a commitment towards the divine revelation, meaning that they are obliged to say merely what they receive as revelation and not to intermix their personal views with the divine message. Second, they are obliged to deliver the message they have received and not to bury it with themselves.

"in the course of time many people perverted God's trust with them and ignored his position and took partners along with Him. Satan turned them away from knowing him and kept them aloof from his worship." In five short sentences, the Commander of the Faithful provides us with a precise account of the mental, practical,social and cultural background of the people at the time of the Prophets' appearance.

In the first sentence he uses the Phrase 'aktharu khalqihi ' (the majority of His creatures) to indicate that not all the people, but a great many of them, had perverted God's prescription and commands because absolute darkness or ignorance has never had dominance over a society, that is, in no age and era People have been left without heavenly guides, teachers and messengers who have themselves had some faithful followers.

Intact he refers to a society and a time in which people ignored God's orders, changed the general principles delivered through the chain of prophet hood and deviated the course and program of life determined by the Prophets through the application of prejudices, perversions and Personal grudges.

He continues with the phrase 'facahiluhaqqah ' (thus they ignored His Position), meaning that people forgot about God's power and providence in administering the affairs of society (the same situation is dominant today among the westerners who do not feel the absence of God in their lives, because they have remained far away from their true nature. They have forgotten the existence of God although they apparently believe in God and hear His name repeatedly. They actually do not know God's Position and status in society).

What is God's trust and covenant (ahd )? Almighty God has provided human beings with a general pattern of life and a specific course within which people should move. This course or pattern is the very reality to which all the Prophets have invited people throughout history, i.e. monotheism, respect for humanity andmoral , natural and legal quality of human beings. This is the divine program, a command and covenant.

Satans try to pervert this course and command and to induce people to obey and worship God's creatures instead of God. God calls people to honor the human being andsatans invite them to humiliate and belittle him. Thus, the perversion of the divine covenant is to deviate from the mentioned course and pattern, to ignore God's position and to transform society into a satanic one in which partnersare taken along with God.

Taking partners along with Godis not merely confined to worshipping an object.But when God's position remains unknown and the people do not know that creation and Legislation belong to God (i.e. in the same way as the laws of creation - laws relating to the movement of heavens and the earth, day and night, man, birth and death - are in possession of God alone, Legislation or administration of the society and life, too, is under His authority. This is the meaning of God's position in human life).

They accept certain lines of thought as their guide, certain human beings as their rulers and certain false customs and traditions as their manners of living. They thereby replace God with ignorance,unawareness andsatans (which only in our limited minds are regarded as rivals to God for, in reality, God has no rival). For example, Egyptians were actually taking a Pharaoh like Anwar Sadat as a partner along with God when they left their destinies in his hands.

The Commander of the faithful continues with the statement, "Satan turned them away from knowing Him.." to emphasize that when God's position remains unknown in a society,satans try to fill up the human mind, which is bereft of the knowledge of God in some way or other. Sometimes one lacks something and he knows that he lacks it, but more painful is the case when one lacks something and he knows it is notdue to the fact that the empty place of what he lacks has been filled with something else of his thirst has been quenched with muddy water. (This is the greater oppression the victims of human beings, i.e. suppression of man's God seeking sense or imposition of unawareness on man). Lateron we shall see that Prophets have the responsibility to remove this oppression and compensate for it.

It is to be noted here that Satan (shaitan ), referred to in Ali's sermon, should not be mistaken forIblis , the creature who, according to the text of the Qur'an, refused to bow down to Adam and then implored God to keep him alive till the Day of Judgment but God promised only to keep him alive, .

This creatureshould not in any way be assimilated with other creatures. We should grow accustomed to accepting the exact concepts of theQur'anic statements, and notmerely what our prejudices warrant.

Satan has a different meaning.Generally speaking according to the Qur'an, it is applied to those forces which, create corruption, wickedness and deviation. On this ground, we have in the Qur'an"satans among men andjinns ", i.e.satans among humankind who put on clothes, walk and do the like, andsatans of the kind ofjinns .These satans who sometimes dwell within the human being and are called selfishness, carnal desire, avarice, Aggression, negligence and so forth. Sometimes they dwell outside the human being andare titled king, ruffian refractory, corrupt religious leader, aphrodisiac scene, etc.

Now, should we not developsatans within ourselves, outsidesatans cannot influence us. For the very reason we cannot put the blame of our own deviations on social conditions or on those who have led us to negligence. It is in the Qur'an that the arrogant and the deprived will quarrel on the Day of Judgment. The deprived accuse the arrogant of having misled them but the arrogant deny it and argue that they themselves should not have listened to them. Both of them tell the truth and at the same time, both are condemned.

"... and kept them aloof from His worship." By this statement the Commander of the Faithful means that when human beings do not know God, it is quite natural for them not to worship Him and not to serve Him (servitude issubmissi .