Translation:Epistles of Wisdom

The Epistles of Wisdom (The Rasā'il al-Ḥikma) 1017–1042
by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, translated from Arabic by Wikisource

The Epistles of Wisdom
The Rasā'il al-Ḥikma

Epistle 1

Copy of the edict that appeared in the mosques about the occultation of Our Lord, the Iman al-Hakim.

Dated from Qa'da 411 (February 16 to March 18, 1021), this piece was written a few days after the disappearance of al-Hakim, 27 Sawwal 411 (February 13 1021). The author presents his writing as an “edict” (sigill) of the "occultation" (gayba) or temporary withdrawal of the Iman until his triumphant return. Accordance with the Shi-ite doctrine of gabya, the disappearance of the Iman is attributed to the hostility and the blindness of men. Despite the countless material and spiritual blessings which were brought by al-Hakim, most of them refused his wisdom and devoted themselves to their passions. Disappointed and angry, he turned away from them and evaded their eyes. But in leaving, gives them one last chance to repent before his imminent return. For this piece, the collection of the Rasā'il al-Ḥikma opens an enigma. Indeed, at first glance the content seems to be in clear breach of the Druze doctrine. There is no explicit reference to the divinity of al-Hakim, which appears rather often in the features of a Shia Iman, bearing the title of “Amir al-Mu'minin”, “Wali Allah” and “Huggat Allah”. As Iman is a qualification that the Druze reserve for the personality of Hamza ibn Ali - his name is followed by a eulogy of “salam Allahu 'alaihi”, Hamza condemns this practice that is also a particularly serious form of “sirk”. The beginning of the text is a sort of Shi-ite creed, perfectly "orthodox": the “basmala” is listed as ordinary in Islamic, the deity named Allah receives the usual eulogies, just like Muhammad and other prophets.

"In the name of Allah, the Clement, the Merciful. The happy ending happens to the one who wakes up from sleepy dizziness, turns away from the stupidity of the ignorant and testifies to sincere faith, so that by repentance, he hastens to Allah Most High and to his friend (walī), his argument (ḥuğğa) back to men, his vicar (ḫalīfa) on Earth, the guardian (amīn) of its creation, the Commander of the Faithful (amīr almu'minīn). Salvation (al-Fawz) is the perogative of pure and pious men, who do not deny the Day of Resurrection, but sincerely believe in that which is hidden (al-ġayb) and recognize its certainty. They profess that the hour will happen suddenly and do not have any doubts about this, and that Allah does not neglect to reward the righteous. Indeed, adversity strikes the unjust, rebel demons, vicious renegades, despicable liars, traitors, tyrannical, despotic and corrupt men, adversaries and hypocrites, who deny the Day of Resurrection and incur the wrath of God, the lost, Praise be to Allah. The faithful appreciate him with praise that never comes to term, but continues to all eternity. May Allah bless the master of emissaries, Muhammad, who was sent with the Qur'an for all creatures, as a message and warning, through the go-between of his progeny, of the Imams who guide and are guided, noble scribes, witnesses against humans to explain to men the matters on which they wonder and are divided, to lead them to the solemn announcement of the Right Way. Peace of Allah the sublime, the high, be with them till the Day of Resurrection.

Let's get to it. O men, the promises, exhortations and threats which the director of your business, the Imam of your century, the successor of your prophets, the discussion of your creator and his assistant, who will testify against you because of your sins and all that you have committed, you have recieved in the past, containing a warning and a reprimand enough for those who listen, obey and choose to be guided, while the soul struggles against the passions, prefers that which is beyond the earthly world."

But you, despite this, you are swimming in the torrent of ignorance; you sink into the desert wandering and you indulge in the game, until you find yourself confronted with that day that you were threatened of. No! You will know soon! Again: you will know soon! No! If only you knew the certain science of this fact!

You know, all of you, that the apparent hidden grace (zahira wa Batina) that Allah Most High has bequeathed to his friend and Imam on earth, the Commander of the Faithful (peace of Allah be upon him), the Imam of your century accorded them in turn, whether noble or peasant, whether you belong to the elite or vulgar; he made you enjoy his apparent and hidden nature, abundantly and to the measure of possibility, by his favor and generosity, as he saw fit (peace of Allah be upon him), without being stingy in the abundance of his gifts. With this out of kindness on his part, he has let you enjoy what Allah Most High has granted him in his book about you, notably the right to dispose of property you have captured. Moreover, he did not participate with you in the affairs of this world, for abnegation and renunciation in respect of him, you saw his power and strength, for a reason that precedes his wisdom, for he (peace of Allah be with him) is more educated about it. So you own, grace and his favor and the abundance of his gifts, to the equivalent that has been acquired in the past by any of your ancestors. None of communities that succeeded before you in time and earlier ages, nor Emigrants (muhagirun) and Auxiliaries (an-sar), have reached a high power. However, you have not learned this from the Friend of Allah by merit, neither has any action one of you, male or female, would have done. It is rather by kindness and benevolence on your regard, for clemency, for mercy and as an ordeal (ihtibar), as a test for you to find out which of you is doing the best actions, and you know the extent of grace that he lavished on you his age, the excellence of his goodness, makes his supreme benevolence, the greatness of his favor and its benefits, even higher than what your predecessors have received.