By Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabāʼī, William C. Chittick
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Additional info for A Shiʻite anthology
Nevertheless, the secondary aspects are dearly reflected in "Instructions to al-Ashtar" and to a lesser degree in the prayers. Although it is well known that the first "pillar of Islam" is the profession of faith, which begins with a statement of the Divine Unity, Western scholars have tended to explain the Islamic belief in God's Oneness as a relatively simple-minded affirmation of the existence of only one God. Perhaps one reason the Nahj al-balaghah* and the Shi`ite hadith* literature in general have been Page 17 neglected or simply branded as spurious is that their very existence flatly contradicts the commonly accepted idea of a simple bedouin faith with few philosophical or metaphysical overtones.
The noble sayings and writings presented in the present work were selected and translated from the traditions loot by the foremost exponents of Islam. They include expositions elucidating the principle of tawhid* and making dear the fundamental basis of all Islamic sciences and pursuits. At the same time they contain Page 22 excellent and subtle allusions to the manner in which the important remaining sciences are ordered and organized around tawhid *, how the moral virtues are based upon it, and how finally the practical aspects of Islam are founded upon and derived from these virtues.
In particular, the great watershed of Islamic metaphysical teachings, ibn Abi * Tialib*, the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law and the Shi`ites' first Imam, has been largely overlooked. In the following selections from Bihar* al-anwar*, fifteen out of hundreds that can be found in Shi`ite sources, the reader will see the seeds for much of later Islamic metaphysical speculation. It will be noticed that the style of the hadiths* varies little from the Prophet himself to the eighth Imam, the last from whom large numbers of such sayings have been handed down.
A Shiʻite anthology by Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabāʼī, William C. Chittick