By Jehangir A. Merchant
“Upon them will be green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade, and they will be adorned with bracelets of silver; and their Lord will give to them to drink of a Wine, Pure and Holy.” (Holy Qur’an, 76:21)
“O brothers! By the remembrance of the Shah’s name (in contemplative prayers), the Lord will extend to you His Hand, Shah lslam Shah (the Lord of the Age) will grace you with a high spiritual state.” (verse 6 of this Ginan)
Jem jem jugatasu preet kareva – bhai preet kareva,
Tem tem rayan viyani
As you Love your Mawla in a manner that is most befitting to him,
the nights (of meditational prayers) will start to bear spiritual fruits.
Speaking about the love for religion, our 4th Imam, Mawlana Muhammad al-Baqir has said: “What is religion but love,” and expressing the same thought, our beloved 48th Imam, Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah said:
“If you desire the emancipation of your soul, then keep your soul in the love and affection of God. Never forget God even for one moment, but always think of Him.” Emphasising the importance of the love for the Imam of the time, he had said to his murids: “You will have no fear in this world if you love the descendants of Muhammad and Ali. This one hint includes all the beauties of prayers and religion.”
These clearly show that the path to God is one of love, and all the states and stations are but stages of love.
The love for Mawla has to be strong, sincere and intense, so much so that nothing but the love for him would exist. It is in this state alone that the soul in meditational prayers will soar high and reach the entrance to the Beloved.
Harohar datar samarya nahi – bhai samarya nahi,
To janam ede tenu jayaji.
They who neglect the constant remembrance of the Beneficent Provider,
Their lives on this earth, indeed, pass away in vain.
We are ungrateful to our Lord Who has created and sustains us by continuously sending His blessings and favours upon us. We show this ingratitude by thoughts, words and deeds. In our love for material things and worldly pleasures, we forget God and lead a life unworthy of our noble and high status. The Qur’an says:
“Truly Man is to his Lord ungrateful; and to that (fact) he bears witness (by his deeds); and violent is he in his love of wealth.” (Holy Qur’an, 100:6-8)
Our tendency is to pin our faith on transitory things that come and go, and neglect the things of lasting moment. The end is sad and dismal. As the Qur’an says:
“Those who desire the life of the world and its pomp, We shall repay them their deed herein, and therein they will not be wronged. These are they for whom there is nothing in the Hereafter, save the Fire. All that they contrive here is vain and all that they are wont to do is fruitless.” (Holy Qur’an, 11:15-16)
Karanina hina Ali ghar bhula – Shah ghar bhula,
To Gurnarka meda tenkhe nahiji
They who are impious, forget the abode of Mawla Ali,
To them the spiritual joy of being in Mawla’s presence is lost.
The Qur’an says: “These are the people who buy the life of this world at the price of the Hereafter…” (Holy Qur’an, 2:86)
The impious ones fail in their allegiance they have sworn to Imam-e-Zaman, only increasing in their impiety and wrong deeds. Blinded by the evil, they turn away from all the spiritual bounties and Mawla’s Grace which is ever present in the Jamatkhana. Thus they become the losers.
Mowlana Rumi, who was a devotee of Shams Tabriz, calls out and says:
“Look not in the world for bliss and fortune, since thou wilt not find them;
Seek bliss in both worlds by serving Him.
Put away the tale of love that travellers tell;
Do thou serve God with all the might.
From the Sun who is the glory of Tabriz seek future bliss,
For he is a sun, possessing all kinds of knowledge, on the spiritual throne.”— XLIV
The joy, the bliss and the goal lie at the foot of Mawla’s spiritual throne which is established in his abode of permanent presence, the Jamatkhana.
Eji ene sapanatar je jiv bhula – bhai je jiv rachya,
Bhai mat tinune haraiji
O brothers! They who forget the purpose of life in this dreamlike world and become engrossed in it,
With them you part company which is wayward and uncontrolled.
Our purpose in life is to grow unto God. The Holy Qur’an says: “From God we are and unto God is our return.” (Holy Qur’an, 2:156)
Many of us spend our time in acquiring material wealth and fulfilling ambitions which give us temporary happiness. We fancy this earth as a place of ultimate happiness, not realising that mundane happiness is deceiving and luring us to our doom. Enticed by false material security we continue to roam the pleasure fields of delusion, and we do not pay heed to the approaching death.
The Qur’an warns: “Leave alone those who take their religion to be mere play and amusement, and are deceived by the life of this world.” (Holy Qur’an, 6:70)
In a similar vein, the ginan asks us to part company of those who waste the precious moments of their lives in worldly pleasures or in slavishly pursuing material wealth. The purpose of life is mentioned by Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah in his Memoirs of Aga Khan: “Life is a great and noble calling, not a mean and grovelling thing to be shuffled through as best we can but a lofty and exalted destiny.”
Eji karo karani kuchha samar lena – kuchha samar lena,
To palatra hoyshe bhalaiji.
O brothers! Do virtuous deeds, fulfil your religious obligations and gain the benefits thereof,
Surely then you will earn the rewards in the Hereafter.
In another Ginan, Pir Sadardin says: “Vavso tevun lunso”, which means: “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
We are on this earth for a very short passage in eternity and we have to strive for the fruits of the Hereafter. Just as a businessman works hard to see his business grow and flourish, and occupies himself to acquire wealth, a devotee should engage himself in the habit of performing righteous deeds and seek to achieve the highest spiritual station through self-discipline and daily communion with God in deep meditation.
“…And whatever good you send forth for your souls before you, you shall find it with God, for God sees well all that you do.” (Holy Qur’an, 2:110)
Eji nam pirsade Shah hathidu deshe – Shah hathidu deshe,
To tham deshe Shah Islam Shahji
O brothers! By the remembrance of the Shah’s name (in contemplative prayers), the Lord will extend to you His Hand,
Shah lslam Shah (the Lord of the Age) will grace you with a high spiritual state.
The Pir composed this ginan during the Imamat of Mawlana Islam Shah. The contemplative prayers refer to the special prayers which seek to enlighten our souls with Noorani Light. With the constant remembrance of the word bestowed on the murid by the Imam of the Time the soul becomes enlightened. A devotee’s spiritual progress and achievement, and the state of the Final Union, however, is totally dependent on the Grace Bestowed on the murid by the Imam-e-Zaman.
The Imam extends his helping hand to one who is constant in his righteousness, and who perseveres in his prayers with humility and patience. Such a murid is uplifted to the Eternal Abode.
The Holy Qur’an provides a glimpse into the high spiritual state as follows in chapter 76, verses 11-14:
“But God will deliver them from the evil of that Day, and will shed over them a Light of Beauty and a (blissful) Joy.
“And because they were patient and constant, He will reward them with a Garden and (garments of) silk.
“Reclining in the (Garden) on raised thrones, they will see there neither (the sun’s) excessive heat nor (the moon’s) excessive cold.
“And the shades of the (Garden) will come low over them, and the bunches (of fruit), there, will hang low in humility.” (Holy Qur’an, 76:11-14)
The climax of this is reached in the same chapter when the Holy Qur’an says in verses 20-22:
“…when you look, it is there you will see a Bliss and a Realm Magnificent.
“Upon them will be Green Garments of fine silk and heavy brocade, and they will be adorned with Bracelets of silver; and their Lord will give to them to drink of a Wine, Pure and Holy.
“Verily this is a reward for you, and your endeavour is accepted and recognised. “ (Holy Qur’an, 76:20-22)
This is the culmination of the honour which the devotees receive at the Royal and Divine Banquet. The Wine, Pure and Holy, is the Holy Didar of the Face and Eyes of the Lord.
Ame unyari ame gunehgari – Shah ame gunehgari
Pir Sadardin venti sunayaji
O Lord! Imperfect we are in our deeds and we are sinful,
Pir Sadardin supplicates most sincerely for forgiveness.
On the Path to Eternity the most noble of prayers is the prayer of supplication and repentance. Thus the Pir is supplicating and repenting with a deep sense of humility before Him, Who alone is Pure and Holy.
A devotee is constantly conscious of his own shortcomings and imperfections, and hence sees supplication and repentance as the very first necessity towards spiritual progress. Sin, to a devotee, is the greatest blot on the soul, because it detaches and distances the soul from its Beloved.
Ismaili Pirs have left their intense supplications in the Holy Ginans for us to repeat. Let these supplications be sung from the innermost recesses of our hearts to earn the Lord’s Grace and Pleasure.
“As to the righteous, they will be in the midst of Gardens and Springs, taking joy in the things which their Lord gives them, because, before then they lived a good life. They were in the habit of sleeping but little by night, and in the hours of early dawn they (were found) praying for Forgiveness.” (Holy Qur’an, 51:15-18)
What the Lord loves and desires most is helplessness, humility and a weeping heart.
May we offer these to Him! Amen.
Publication date: November 16, 2010
About the author: (Rai) Jehangir A. Merchant has served Ismaili institutions as an Alwaez, teacher and writer for five decades, both in an honorary and professional capacity. He currently resides in Vancouver,Canada. This article is adapted from Ilm (Volume 8, Number 1, July – November 1982), the flagship Ismaili magazine he edited whilst he served with the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) for the United Kingdom.
Other articles by the same author on this Web Site:
Ghadir-Khumm and the Two Weighty Matters (includes author’s detailed profile)
The Parable of Moses and Khidr in the Holy Qur’an: An Ismaili Interpretation
Text and Explanation of “Eji Shah Islamshah Amne Maliya”
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The question to ask oneself is for what purpose I exist ? The purpose is to love Mawla and remember him all day and night long, and particularly when visiting the jamat khana where the atmosphere is so prayerful and the place has been reserved only for prayer. Other benefits just ensue but the prime motive is to pray and concentrate on prayers all the time as much as possible.
UCH SHARIF, which I visited in 2005, is in Punjab near Rahim Yar Khan. It is a great place, with a small Jamatkhana and around 125 Ismailies living around. They also have have a child care centre. It is approximately 100 kilometres from Ahmadpur.
I have been to the Mausoleum of Pir Sadardin and Pir Hasan Kabirdin in Uch Sharif, which is called LAKHAN PIR. It was a desert town at one point and our Pirs used to preach there.
Thank you very much; my eyes were full of tears.
The commentary on first and second verse provides calmness where the rest of it invites reflection. Thank you for writing this.
Most educative. Guides to purify oneself from worldly mistakes and imperfections. Much can be learned from this passage. Thank you for sharing.