Literary Reading: The Essence of Imam – An Ode by Imam 'Abd al-Salam

There is an ode of Imam ‘Abd al-Salam in which he says that the talisman (anything that has magical powers) that can open the treasure trove of spiritual meaning of the Holy Quran is the Imam. 

This ode is lucidly explained by Dr. Shafique Virani in his book “The Ismailis in the Middle Ages”.

In the ode the Imam  observes that  the true essence of  the  Imam  cannot  be  recognized  with  earthly, fleshly eyes, for these can  only  see his physical form, perishing like all else with the passage of time. 

His true face is to be perceived with the eyes of the heart. He has thousands of physical habitations, but his true home is traceless; he has had a thousand names, but all of them refer to one reality. 

In the Ode the Imam says that today he is known as ‘Abd al-Salam, but tomorrow the physical body will be gone and the name will change, yet the essence will remain in the next Imam of the lineage. Those who look at the Imam as they squint will consider him like any other human being, but as soon as the eyes of the heart perceive correctly, his true status is discovered. 

In form the Imams change, but in meaning and substance they are changeless. Human language cannot attain to the majesty of the Imams. 

The Imam is the most precious ingredient in the supreme elixir (miraculous substance) of eternal life-red sulfur. He is not simply a pearl, but the ocean that gives birth to pearls.

The existence of the Imam, who leads humankind to a recognition of God, is the very pinnacle of creation.

One thought on “Literary Reading: The Essence of Imam – An Ode by Imam 'Abd al-Salam

  1. A precise explanation of the concept of the Imamah, but at the same time it is very difficult to understand the simplicity or the depth of the language to perceive the true status of Imam without the divine help and enlightenment.

    Imam lights his murid’s path towards the Siratal Mustaqueem

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