KERNEL OF THE KERNEL - of the Series in Islam Seyyed Hossein Nasr, editor Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page ii

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    Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page i

  • SUNY Series in Islam

    Seyyed Hossein Nasr, editor

    Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page ii

  • Kernel of the KernelConcerning the Wayfaring and Spiritual

    Journey of the People of Intellect

    (Risala-yi Lubb al-Lubab dar Sayr wa Suluk-i Ulul Albab)

    A Sh Approach to Sufism

    From the Teachings of


    Compiled, Edited, and Expanded by


    Translated by


    Foreword by

    Seyyed Hossein Nasr

    State University of New York Press

    Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page iii

  • Published byState University of New York Press, Albany

    2003 State University of New York

    All rights reserved

    Printed in the United States of America

    No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval

    system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

    For information, address State University of New York Press,90 State Street, Suite 700, Albany, NY 12207

    Production by Dana FooteMarketing by Anne M. Valentine

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    Husayn Tihran, Muhammad Husayn.[Risalah-'i Lubb al-lubab. English]Kernel of the kernel : Risala-yi Lubb al-lubab dar sayr wa suluk-i ulu'l albab [sic] /

    [based on lectures] by Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba' ; compiled, expanded, and edited by Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Husayn Tihran ; translated by Mohammad H. Faghfoory ; preface by Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

    p. cm.Includes bibliographical references and index. 0791452379 (alk. paper) 0791452387 (pbk. : alk. paper)1. Religious lifeIslamKoranic teaching. 2. Religious lifeShah. 3. God

    (Islam)Koranic teaching. 4. lslamEssence, genius, nature. 5. Sufism. I. Title: Risala-yiLubb al-lubab dar sayr wa suluk-i ulu'l albab [sic]. II. Tabataba' , Muhammad Husayn.III. Faghfoory, Mohammad Hassan. IV. Title. . 297.4dc 21 2002021109

    Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page iv

  • Humbly dedicated in gratitude to the blessed memoriesof Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba andAllamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Husayn Tihran

    May Gods Mercy be upon their immaculate soulsand to

    Shaykh al-Sayyid al-Husayn al-Shadhilwho awakens hearts to His call

    with Silent Music

    Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page v

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    Foreword by Seyyed Hossein Nasr / xiii

    Translators Introduction / xxi

    1. Attraction to the invisible world is in mans primordial nature

    2. The Straight Path means a combination of exoterism and esoterism

    3. The Holy Quran calls for purification along with intellection

    4. Mulla Sadras recommendation for humility of the heart and acquiring intellectual sciences

    5. The chain of gnostics during the last hundred years

    6. Reasons and motivations for compilation of this treatise

    7. The human being in the darkness of materialism

    8. Wayfaring and spiritual journey according to the gnostics

    9. Difficulties in passing through the intermediate world and the realm of multiplicity of the soul

    Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page vii


  • 10. The spiritual traveler entering the realm of spirit

    11. The goal of the traveler is companionship with God and His Image

    12. Muraqabah, its stages, and effects

    13. The meaning of wine (mey) according to gnostics

    14. The traveler observes his own soul

    15. The traveler observes Divine Names and Attributes

    16. Immersion in the Divine Essence of the Lord and subsistence in the Worshiped

    17. The station of being present in the world of multiplicity while simultaneously witnessing and experiencing

    the realms of Divine Lordship

    18. Reasons why not everyone can reach the station of human perfection

    19. The inability of words to describe the realities of the lights of catharsis and the Realms of Divine Lordship

    20. The world of sincerity (khulus ) and its hierarchy

    21. Peculiarities and manifestations ofsincerity of essence (khulus-i dhat )

    22. Freedom from the world of multiplicity is one of the first and most essential necessities of spiritual journey

    23. Ones detachment from ones essence

    24. The need for Divine Grace for total victory in the struggle against the carnal soul

    25. The necessity of observing all religious duties throughout spiritual journey

    26. Observing religious duties by the Perfect Man is by virtue ofperfection, and not for finding proximity to God

    27. Brief description of the realms preceding the realm of sincerity (khulus ) according to Quran

    Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page viii

    viii Contents

  • K H U LUS

    28. The Greater Islam (Islam-i Akbar)

    29. The Greater Faith (Iman-i Akbar)

    30. The Greater Migration (Hijrat-i Kubra)

    31. The Greater Spiritual Struggle (Jihad-i Akbar)

    32. The Greatest Submission (Islam-i aazam)

    33. The Greatest Faith (Iman-i aazam)

    34. The Greatest Migration (Hijrat-i uzma) and the Greatest Spiritual Struggle (Jihad-i aazam)

    35. Choosing to Die

    36. Explanation: Special privileges granted to Muslim spiritual travelers over travelers of of previous religions

    37. The Station of Righteousness (Suluh)

    38. Different kinds of righteousness (Salah)

    39. The necessity to seek reason to prove the truth of religion

    40. The effects of lamentation and pleading to God with humility to find faith in the World of Meaning

    41. Conversation between the prophet Hadrat-i Idrs with Allamah Tabataba in a dream

    42. God will guide those who search guidance from Him with sincerity and purity of heart

    Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page ix

    Contents ix

  • 43. Knowledge and action complement each other

    44. The necessity of having bodily organs share the joy of faith

    45. The absence of sadness and fear for the selfless traveler

    46. Wayfaring in the Angelical Kingdom is not in contradiction with being in this world

    47. Prayers and supplications of the Shite Imams were not merely for guiding and teaching purposes

    48. The necessary conditions for spiritual journey

    49. Abandoning conventionalism, habitual practices, and formalities

    50. Steadfastness

    51. Tolerance and forbearance

    52. Loyalty

    53. Stability and perseverance

    54. Constant attention

    55. Ones accounting ones inward state

    56. Self-condemnation

    57. Expeditious action

    58. Devotion

    59. Observing proper manners

    60. Intention

    61. Silence

    62. Abstaining from indulgence in food consumption

    63. Spiritual retreat

    Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page x

    x Contents

  • 64. Morning wakefulness

    65. Perpetual ritual cleanliness

    66. Constant expression of humility

    67. Avoiding appetite and worldly pleasure

    68. Guarding and protecting the secrets and mysteries of the path

    69. Spiritual teacher and master

    70. Litany and supplication

    71. Control of mind, thoughts, and other mental preoccupations

    72. Invocation

    73. Meditation

    74. Methods for control of mind and thoughts in the treatise attributed to Ayatullah Sayyid Mahd (ibn Murtada ibn Muhammad)

    Bahr al-Ulum

    75. Methods used by the lateAkhund Mulla Husayn-Qul Hamadan

    76. Stages of muraqabah

    77. On the chain of the authors spiritual teachers and masters in Divine sciences

    78. The opening of the fourfold realms of tawhd before ones soul as aresult of muraqabah and concentration on the soul

    79. What do the gnostics mean by Griffin ( Anqa) and (Smurgh)

    80. Poems by Hafiz alluding to the station

    of the Essence of the Invisible of all invisibles

    Index of Quranic Verses

    Index of Ahadth

    Index of Quotations of the Sayings of the Sh ite Imams

    Notes on Saints, Scholars, and Authors Cited in the Text

    General Index

    Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page xi

    Contents xi

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  • Faghfoory: Kernel of the Kernel page xiii



    Seyyed Hossein Nasr

    The work of Allamah Tihran translated here represents a genre of Islamicgnostic and esoteric writings that has been rarely studied in the West untilnow. This book is in fact perhaps the first of its kind to appear in the Eng-lish language. In order to understand what intellectual strand this work rep-resents, it is necessary to delve in a general way into the different manifesta-tions of Islamic esoteric teachings. The first and best-known crystallizationof the inner or esoteric teachings of the Islamic revelation is of course Su-fism, which has produced a vast treasury of writings ranging from practicaladvice to the lives of saints, from ethical treatises to poetry and from shortaphorism and letters to didactic works dealing with Islamic metaphysics,cosmology, psychology, and eschatology along with a number of other sub-jects. This latter category of writings is associated especially with the intel-lectual teachings of Sufism, dealing as it does with unitive knowledgeknown as gnosis or irfan/marifah. Its greatest expositor was Ibn Arabmany of w


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