Zād al-Sālik (Provisions for the Traveller)
by Mullā Fayḍ Kāshānī1 (1007-1091 AH / 1598-1680 CE)
In the name of Allah – the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise is for Allah, and peace be upon his chosen servants
This treatise is known as Zād al-Sālik, written in response to a question posed by one of the spiritual brothers regarding the ways of wayfaring on the path of truth.
Know – may Allah strengthen you with His Spirit – that just like an apparent journey has an origin, a destination, a distance, a station, a path, a provision, a transport, a friend and a guide, likewise is the case for a spiritual journey, which is the journey of the soul towards Allah (swt).
Its origin is ignorance and the natural deficiency which you have brought with yourself from the womb of the mother.
[16:78] Allah has brought you forth from the bellies of your mothers while you did not know anything.
Its destination is actual perfection, which is above all other perfections, and that is entailed in reaching Allah (swt).
[53:42] and that the terminus is toward your Lord,
[84:6] O man! You are labouring toward your Lord laboriously, and you will encounter Him
The distance of this journey is inclusive of cognitive and practical levels of perfection which the soul transverses little by little, whenever one is a traveller on the right path of the Divine Law, which is the path of the saints and spiritual elites.
[6:153] This indeed is my straight path, so follow it, and do not follow [other] ways, for they will separate you from His way.
These perfections are dependent on one another such that until a previous perfection is not attained, one is unable to move on to the next. Similar to an apparent journey, until one portion of the distance is not travelled, the next portion of the distance cannot be travelled.
The stations of this journey are the praiseful qualities and the admired ethics, that are the states and stations of the soul. It transfers gradually from every point to the one above. The first station is wakefulness, which is cognition, and the last station is unity, which is the farthest destination of this journey. The details of this journey and the stations have been mentioned in the work Manāzil al-Sā’irīn.
The guide for this journey is exhibiting complete seriousness, exerting strenuous effort, and striving in crossing these stations, accompanied with battling and spiritually exercising the self, and carrying the burdens of divine responsibilities, such as the obligations, recommendations, etiquettes, observation (murāqabah) and reckoning (muḥāsabah) of the self – second by second, moment by moment. Turn your dedications into one, and that is to end the journey at the Truth (swt).
[73:8] …and dedicate yourself to Him with total dedication
[29:69] As for those who strive in Us, We shall surely guide them in Our ways…
The provision for this journey is Godwariness (taqwa).
[2:197] …And take provision, for indeed the best provision is Godwariness…
Godwariness is to act upon that which the Legislator has commanded and refraining from that which He has prohibited, based on insight so that with the Divine Light and the refinement done by carrying out its responsibilities, the heart is prepared for the grace of cognition of the Truth (azwj).
[2:282] Be wary of Allah and Allah shall teach you.
Just as an apparent traveller is unable to journey on his path if he does not use his provisions for his bodily strength, likewise a spiritual traveller who does not establish the Divinely legislated apparent and esoteric purity, nor strengthen their soul through this purity, then knowledge, cognition and the praiseful ethics – which are dependent on Godwariness and Godwariness inversely is attained through it (although not as a circular argument) – are not graced upon him.
Tantamount to someone who in the darkest portion of the night has a lantern in their hand and sees as well as travels the path through its light. Every step that he takes, a portion of the path is enlightened and then he takes a step to move forward. Until and unless he takes a step the path is not enlightened, and until it is not enlightened, he is unable to move forward. The element of “looking” in this example is similar to knowledge, while “moving” is similar to action and Godwariness.
(1) One who acts on that which he knows, Allah (swt) bestows knowledge of that which he never knew.
(2) Allah does not accept an act except when performed with understanding, and there is no understanding except through action. One who understands, their knowledge guides them towards action, and one who does not act has no understanding. Is it not the case that a certain part of faith comes from other parts? – As has been reported from al-Ṣādiq (a).
Just like one will never reach his destination if he does not know the route in an apparent journey, then one who is on a spiritual journey, yet without insight and action, will never reach his destination.
A person acting without insight is like a person travelling on a wrong path – continuous travel does not do anything except increase his distance away (from his destination).
The transport for this journey is the body and its strengths. Just like one is unable to travel the path if their transport is weak and broken down in an apparent journey, likewise in this journey, if one does not have a healthy body and strength, one will not be able to do anything. Therefore, acquiring livelihood from this perspective is necessary, and that which is required should be to the extent that is necessary, and seeking anything extra in one’s livelihood is a barrier to wayfaring. The condemned world which they have warned us against is that excessiveness which is unhealthy for the possessor, but the amount necessary is inclusive of the matters concerning the hereafter and its acquirement is an act of worship.
Just as if one who on an apparent journey allows the reins of their transport to travel any way it wishes, one will not remain on their path, likewise in the spiritual journey if the body and its strengths are neglected so that they can do whatever they will, and they do not abide by the etiquettes and divine practices, nor the reins are controlled, one will not remain on the path towards the Truth.
The companions on this journey are the scholars, righteous ones, worshipers, and the wayfarers who assist and help one another. This is because one does not become aware of their deficiencies quickly enough but becomes aware of others’ deficiencies quicker. Thus, if a few friends together promise to inform one another of their deficiencies, they will be able to travel the path and they will remain protected from the thieves and robbers of religion.
Satan is closer to one who is alone than a congregation – and Allah’s (swt) hand is upon the congregation.
If one slips off the path, another will inform him of it and bring him back. However, if one is alone then it is far-fetched for them to become aware of that.
The guide for this path is the Prophet (p) and the rest of the infallibles (a) who have shown the path and have established the practices and etiquettes which inform one of the benefits and harms of the path, and who have themselves tread this path and have asked the nation to imitate and follow them.
[33:21] In the Apostle of Allah there is certainly for you a good exemplar
[3:31] Say, ‘If you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you’
The fruits of what they would do and command others to do as has been understood from the reliable traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), which a wayfarer must do and is not permissible for him to abandon after the attainment of correct belief, are the following twenty-five things:
1) Protective of the five daily prayers, meaning praying them at their foremost times in congregation and with the appropriate etiquettes. If for some reason or excuse one is unable to pray at the foremost time, or unable to pray in congregation, or does not observe the appropriate etiquettes, they have fallen off the path of wayfaring and are equal to rest of the laity who roam around in their ignorance and misguidance, are unaware about their path and destination and do not progress at all.
2) Protective of the Friday prayers, the two ‘Īd prayers, the prayers of Āyāt – with all their conditions, unless with a justified excuse. If three consecutive Friday prayers are abandoned without an excuse, his heart will become rusted to such an extent that it cannot be cleansed.2
3) Protective of the supererogatory prayers of the five daily prayers, whose abandonment is considered a sin, except the four units of ‘Aṣr and two units of Maghrib and the Watīrah whose abandonment even without an excuse is permissible.
4) Protective of the fast of the month of Ramaḍān to its perfection, by controlling the tongue from vain talk, backbiting, lying, swearing, and controlling the rest of the body parts from oppressing and betraying, and by not opening the fast with that which is prohibited, and be more careful of opening the fast in these days as opposed to the rest of the days with those things whose permissibility is doubtful.
5) Protective of the supererogatory fasts, which are the three known days of every month and whose reward is tantamount to the fasting of a lifetime. One should not abandon them without an excuse, and if they do then they should be repeated, or one madd of food should be given as charity for it.
6) Protective of the Zakāt, such that there is no delay and unnecessary circumspection, except with an excuse such as the absence of a rightfully deserving of it or waiting for one who is most rightful of deserving it.
7) Protective of giving a certain amount of wealth. I mean, one should make it a duty, whether every day, or every week, or every month, to give something to a beggar or one who is deprived. The amount should be reasonable, not so much that it disturbs one’s own life. If one does this secretly, it is better.
[70:24-25] and in whose wealth there is a known right, for the beggar and the deprived
It has been mentioned in a tradition that this wealth is other than Zakāt.
8) Protective of the Islamic pilgrimage, by performing it in the year of its obligation and it should not be delayed without an excuse.
9) Visiting the holy graves of the Prophet and the infallible Imams – peace be upon them. Especially the visitation of Imām Ḥusayn (a) as it has been reported in a tradition: “The visitation of Ḥusayn (a) is mandatory upon every believer, and anyone who abandons it, they have abandoned a right of Allah and the Messenger.”
In another report, it is said, “Every Imām has a right over their friends and followers, and one of these rights that should be fulfilled loyally is the visitation of their graves.”
10) Protective of the rights of the brothers and fulfilling their needs as this has been strongly emphasized, and in fact, many have considered it more important than other obligations.
11) Performing any of the aforementioned acts if they were missed as soon as one becomes attentive to it.
12) Removing the condemned vices, such as pride, stinginess, jealousy and its like from one’s self, through spiritual exercise and counter-behaviour; and shrouding one’s self with praiseworthy virtues such as good manners, generosity, patience and its like till it becomes a disposition.
13) Collectively abandoning all things that have been prohibited. If one happens to commit a sin on a rare occasion, they should immediately seek forgiveness, repent and recompense for their actions so that they become the beloved of the Truth.
[2:222] Indeed Allah loves the penitent.
Indeed Allah loves every wrongdoer who repents.
14) Abandoning doubtful scenarios which lead to falling into prohibited acts. It has been said, “Anyone who abandons an etiquette is deprived of performing the Sunnah, and anyone who abandons the Sunnah is deprived of performing an obligation.”
15) Not embarking on that which does not concern him, as it results in hardness of the heart and loss. It has been reported in a tradition, “One who seeks that which does not concern him will lose that which does concern him.” If one embarks on it out of heedlessness, then they should reconsider after becoming attentive of it and seek forgiveness and repentance.
[7:201-201] When those who are Godwary are touched by a visitation of Satan, they remember [Allah] and, behold, they perceive. But their brethren, they draw them into error, and then they do not spare [any harm].
Until he abandons the gatherings of the lazy ones, those who backbite, and the gatherings of those who waste their day speaking about different things, he will not be able to free himself from those things that do not concern him, because nothing is like the accompanying of such people in creating hardness of the heart, heedlessness, and wastefulness of time.
16) Eating less, sleeping less, and speaking less should be adopted as one’s identity as it has complete influence on the enlightenment of the heart.
17) He should read a portion of the Qurān every day, the bare minimum being fifty verses, with contemplation, reflection, and humility. If he performs some of this recitation during prayers, it is better.
18) He should make some of the supplications and remembrances as part of his daily recitations for specific times of the day, especially after the obligatory prayers. If it is possible to make most of his time occupied with the recitation with the remembrance of Allah, even if the other body parts are occupied with other things, then that is a path to felicity. It has been transmitted that the tongue of Imam Bāqir (a) was mostly occupied with the pronouncement of Lā Ilah Illallah, while eating, speaking and walking. This is because these remembrances are a powerful help and assistance for the wayfarer. If one can maintain the remembrance of the heart alongside remembrance through the tongue, in a short time a great many success will be attained, until he will be able to continuously and in every breath remember God, and not become heedless of Him – an act nothing can be compared to within wayfaring. This itself is a strong aid in abandoning transgression against God– Glory be to Him – through sinning.
19) Conversing with scholars and asking them questions for acquiring knowledge to the extent possible, so that more knowledge can be gained upon what has been previously learned.
The cleverest of people is one who combines the knowledge of people with his own knowledge.
He should consider his companionship with one more learned than himself as a great victory. If he discovers a scholar who acts on his knowledge, then he should stick close to him and not depart from him. A spiritual master that the Ṣūfīs speak of is someone like this, and what is meant by knowledge is the knowledge of the hereafter, not of this world. If one cannot find someone like this nor someone more learned than himself, then one should accompany the Book and people who have good conduct so that he can acquire the praiseworthy morals from them. Every company that reminds him of the Truth and the Hereafter should not be distanced from.
20) Conducting one’s self with others with good conduct and sincerity, so that one does not become a burden upon others, and that others can deem his actions as good and not presume anything negative about him.
21) Making truth in one’s speech and actions their identity.
22) Relying on God – Glory be to Him – in all matters. Not worrying about other causes, not being overly calculative about one’s sustenance and taking it too seriously, or worrying about the long-term worries of it, so that one gets accustomed to being satisfied with little and abandoning excessiveness.
23) Being patient against the troubles caused by family. One should not get upset too quickly, because the more he goes through the troubles and faces calamities, the quicker he will arrive at his purpose.
24) Enjoining the good and prohibiting the wrong to the extent possible and ensuring others are kept on goodness. One should even take them as partners on one’s spiritual journey if they have the spiritual strength. Otherwise, refrain from speaking to them and behave with them with tolerance and dissimulation, so that they are not scared off.
25) Scheduling one’s time, and to fix a specific recitation for every hour of the day and to occupy one’s self with it so that one’s time is not wasted – because every moment of time is subordinate to what has been designated for that time.
This is what most concerns one’s journey. This is what has come down to us from the infallible Imāms (a), who themselves performed these tasks and asked others to perform them as well. As for performing seclusion retreats, or not eating a certain animal, or doing vocal and silent acts of dhikr and so on, then they have been transmitted from the Ṣūfīs and not from the Imāms (a).
It appears that some teachers may have seen some of these acts appropriate for some individuals in order to ease their wayfaring, hence they ordered them to perform them and the source for spiritual retreats could perhaps be this tradition:
One who frees himself for Allah for forty mornings, the fountains of wisdom begin to flow from his heart to his tongue.
The following tradition may have been used to abandon certain animals: “Do not make your stomachs the graveyards of animals,” and so on. There is no doubt that eating less meat, sitting in seclusion with complete attention towards remembrance has a complete role to play in the enlightenment of the heart, but with the condition that it does not become an obstacle for Friday prayers and congregational prayers.
One of the matters which is significant in wayfaring is freedom. Meaning, being free from the deficiencies of nature, the whispering of the habits, and the practices of the laymen – because there is no obstacle greater for a wayfarer than these three things. Some of the wise men have named these three as the heads of Satan and that every evil deed that one performs and sees it as good is rooted in one of these three things.
As for the deficiencies of nature, then these are the carnal desires, anger, and its like such as love of wealth and status.
[28:83] This is the abode of the Hereafter which We shall grant to those who do not desire to domineer in the earth nor to cause corruption
As for the whispering of the habits, then they are the seduction of the Commanding Self and its beautification, performing unrighteous deeds due to corrupted thoughts and false delusions, and as well as other things like vices and condemned dispositions.
[18:103-104] Say, ‘Shall we inform you about the biggest losers in regard to works? Those whose endeavour goes awry in the life of the world, while they suppose they are doing good.’
As for the practices of the laymen, they are things such as following the demons from amongst the men, imitating the ignorant posing as scholars, responding to false traps and desires of the devils from amongst the humans and jinn, falling into their deception and fraud.
[41:29] …‘Our Lord! Show us those who led us astray from among jinn and humans so that we may trample them under our feet, so that they may be among the lowermost!’
However, some practices such as the type of clothing and way of living, which are established by the people in each era, one must follow what the majority does apparently. This is because differentiation one’s self results in fear and isolation unless following their practices is going against an important religious matter, whose abandonment causes harm to the spiritual journey. In this case, following them is not necessary unless out of dissimulation. The identification of these matters must be done by the insightful opinion of that era.
Anyone who makes these twenty-five steps obligatory upon himself and performs them seriously and with sincerity, meaning solely for the sake of Allah, not for any otherworldly reason, each and every day of theirs will see progress, his good deeds will increase, his bad deeds will decrease and his stations will elevate. If he is from the people of knowledge, meaning he has a familiarity with the divine subjects such as the origin, the hereafter, the soul and so on, and understands the purpose of knowing these things, then day by day his understanding will increase through inspiration to the extent of his capacity related to his worship, and his conversing with scholars. Otherwise, for his efforts, he will attain a cleaner soul and his supplications will be accepted and as well as other perfections. In all cases, he will gain proximity to God and His love and light. Complete love and enlightenment are a fruit of understanding.
At times, understanding reaches such a point that most of the affairs of the hereafter become apparent for him, as it has been transmitted from Ḥāritha b. Nu‘mān and the report is mentioned in al-Kāfī. Anytime love increases and reaches the level of passion and one is infatuated with the remembrance of God, it is referred to as the meeting, arrival and annihilation in Allah and subsistence with Allah. This is the purpose and goal of creation, as it has been mentioned in a Ḥadīth Qudsī:
I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known by creation.
And in the revealed Book:
[51:56] I did not create the jinn and the humans except that they may worship Me.
Regarding its interpretation, it has been said: that they recognize Me. He has referred to recognition as worship because it is not separated from it, and He has referred to what is necessary through the necessitated so that it is not imagined that any type of recognition is intended, rather it is a specific recognition which cannot be attained except through worship.
There are numerous ways and paths towards recognition, but every recognition does not result in closeness and proximity. The recognition of most of the laity is through imitation, the theologians is through dialectical arguments whose premises are a combination of the admitted, accepted and speculative propositions, and the philosophers as well gain recognition through rational demonstrative arguments those premises are a combination of certain propositions. However, none of these paths result in proximity and love. Thus, anyone who attains recognition through worship, then they are the fruit of the tree of creation and the reason for the creation of the universe. As for the rest of creation, then they are all created for him and for his service.
Humans and spirits are dependent on the existence of love
Devote yourself to love to enjoy its bliss3
Hence it is mentioned in a Ḥadīth Qudsī while addressing the Messenger (p): Were it not for you, I would not have created the universe.
[51:56] I did not create the jinn and the humans except that they may worship Me.
Thus, anyone who has a great objective and finds in themselves the substance, should strive hard so that through the path of servitude they bring their worship, Godwariness and purity closer to this level.
Though reaching Him is not based on how much you strive
Yet O heart strive as much as you can4
If you reach your destination, then that is a blessing, but if you die on this path then you are a martyr.
If you die on His path, you are a martyr
And yet if you do make it then you are the adornment of the worshipers
[4:100] …And whoever leaves his home migrating toward Allah and His Apostle, and is then overtaken by death, his reward shall certainly fall on Allah…
I’d rather die deceived by dreams than give
My heart to home and trade and never live5
And all opportunity is from Allah – the Most Cherished and Most Wise – and all praise is for Allah the Lord of the universe, and salutations be upon Muḥammad and his progeny collectively.
This concludes the treatise known as Zād al-Sālik.
Sayyid Ali Imran studied in the seminary of Qom from 2012 to 2021, while also concurrently obtaining a M.A in Islamic Studies from The Islamic College of London in the summer of 2018. He continued his seminary studies in legal theory, jurisprudence and philosophy, eventually attending the advanced kharij of Usul and Fiqh in 2018. He is also a regular instructor for Mizan Institute.
- For author’s biography, please see entry on WikiShia or Iranica Online.
- Some scholars have pointed out that some of these expectations are based on Kāshānī’s personal jurisprudential opinions. One of them is this entry, as he believed in the obligation of the Friday prayers.
- Ghazal #252 by Ḥāfez
- Ghazal #284 by Ḥāfez
- Manṭiq al-Ṭayr, by Farīd al-Dīn ‘Āṭṭār