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Majalis-ul Muayyadiya - by Al Muayyad fid-din Shirazi
Life and Lectures of Al Muayyad fid-din Shirazi
Contents Lectures 1 through 20 of the Majlis
Lecture 14 - The True Meaning of the Tradition: "I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate"

Every knowledge refers to the investigation of a subject matter pursued by a fixed method. This view is supported by the verses of the Qur'an and the Tradition of the Prophet. The holy Qur'an says, "There is no righteousness in entering the houses by their back doors; but righteousness lies in fearing God and entering the houses by their proper doors." The words: houses and doors used in the above verse are used figuratively. They do not stand for ordinary houses and doors. We know well that the doors are meant for entrance. Had the words been used in their ordinary sense, there would have been no necessity for God to admonish us to do a thing which everyone of us does in the ordinary course of affairs. The houses and the doors referred to in the verses are quite different from the houses and doors that we are familiar with. This is made clear by the well-known Tradition of the Prophet which is as follows: "I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is its gate. Let those who want to acquire knowledge approach the city by its proper gate."

After having proved by the verses of the Qur'an and the Tradition of the Prophet that knowledge always refers to the investigation of a particular subject pursued by a particular method our next step would naturally be to find out the subject matter of the knowledge of which, according to the Tradition, the Prophet is the city and ‘Ali is the gate. If we maintain that the subject matter is the prayer and how to perform it or the ‘zakat' and how to pay it or the fast and how to observe it, then we cannot but admit that ‘Ali's knowledge in this respect was in no way better or higher than that of those who had the opportunities of associating with the Prophet and attending his sermons. But it is not so. The knowledge mentioned in the Tradition refers to the philosophy of ‘taweel' the reconciliation between traditionalism and rationalism and the knowledge of ‘Hududullah', the spiritual and physical ones. It is this knowledge about which the Prophet says, ‘I am the city of knowledge about which the Qur'an says figuratively, "There is no righteousness in your entering the houses by their back doors."

In short, ‘Ali is the person who is well qualified in the knowledge of which the Prophet is the City and ‘Ali the Gate; and all those who have embraced Islam know nothing of this knowledge excepting those who have approached the ‘Wasee' of the Prophet and entered the city of knowledge by its proper gate. Those Muslims who do not approach this channel have only this advantage that their blood is unlawful for the Muslims to shed and their property is safe with them. The Prophet has divided the Muslims into two classes. He says, "I have been ordered by God to fight on with the people until they say ‘there is no God but God and Mohammed is the Prophet of God.' When they say this their lives and properties are secure with us unless they do something which calls for punishment. They will have to settle their accounts with God." This is the advantage they will get from their embracing Islam. With regard to the second class of people the Prophet says, "Those who say there is no God but God, with sincerity will enter the ‘jannat'." On being asked as to what is meant by sincerity the Prophet replied, "It means the knowledge of the ‘Hudud' of God and the discharging of the obligation that one owes to them." This refers to those learned Muslims who enter the city through its gate.

Lecture 15

Contents Lectures 1 through 20 of the Majlis
Another article on Al Muayyad by Mohamed Adra
Poetry by Al Muayyad
Al Muayyad's protege Nasir Khusraw
Poetry by Nasir Khusraw
Ismaili Heroes Check out the Al Muayyad Section
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