Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Philosophical Prayer by Ibn Sīnā

‘Glory be to You, O God!’ say the rest of existents with the tongue of their condition and speech. You confer on each thing what it deserves according to wisdom, granting them existence – with respect to their [relative] nonexistence – as a grace and mercy. And so their essences and accidents glorify Your blessings, thankful for the abundance of Your graces. “For there is not a thing that does not glorify His praise, but you are not aware of their glorification. Verily, He is the Clement, the Forgiving” (Qur’ān 17:44). – So Glory be to You, O God, exalted You are!
   Since existence necessarily belongs to Your essence, contingency belongs to the existence of all others as an inexorable affliction. And as Your essence dispenses with having a quiddity (māhīya, ‘whatness’), while Your creatures are in need of it, we know that Your quoddity (annīya, ‘thisness’) is in absolute union with Your very quiddity – for Your attributes are not multiplied in Your essence.
   And we know with certainty that You are the First of existents in number, the oldest, the wisest, the most enduring, eternally and forever. Verily You are God, the One, the Unique, the Singular, the Absolute (al-Samad), who “has not begotten nor is begotten and to whom none is equal” (Qur’ān 112:3-4).
   O God, You confined my soul to the prison of the four elements, and charged them to prey on her like ravenous beasts. You compelled her to seek their satisfaction, and to abandon herself to them in their lusts, drawing her to the realm which “incurs wrath upon itself” (Qur’ān 1:7).
   O God, exalt my soul by safeguarding her from disobedience (‘isma). Have compassion on her by the mercy which most befits You, and by the overflowing generosity which is most suitable and appropriate for You. Accord her a continuous repentance wherein she reverts back to her celestial realm. Hasten her return to her blessed condition, and dawn on her darkness a Sun from the Active Intelligence. Dispel from her the darkness of ignorance and error, and actualize what lies dormant in her faculties. Bring her out of the darkness of ignorance to the light of wisdom and the brightness of intelligence. “God is the Guardian of those who believe: He brings them out of darkness into the light; as for those who disbelieve, their guardians are idols who bring them out of the light into darkness. Those shall be denizens of the Fire, and they shall remain in it forever” (Qur’ān 2:257).
   O God, show my soul images of worthy mysteries in her sleep, and change her dreams from chimeras to visions of beneficial things, and of true glad tidings. Purify her from the filth which her sensations and imaginations (awhām) have impressed on her, dispel from her the turbidity (kadar) of nature, and place her in an elevated rank in the realm of the souls.
   Praise be to God, who has guided me, sufficed me, protected me, and restored me!
   O God, I beseech You – O Necessary of Existence, O Cause of causes, O Ancient who shall yet be! (yā Qadīman lam yazil) – to preserve me from faltering, to extend the days of my life, and to place my aspiration in the work which pleases You.
   O God, purify my soul by the celestial effusion, and confer on me the virtues gathered for her in the natures of the brilliant stars, granting success to my objectives and pursuits.
   O Deity of the East and the West, Lord of the seven spheres that “run their course and hide themselves” (Qur’ān 81:16), and gush forth upon the world as gushing streams –

      Certainly they are agents of Your will,
         Whose virtues pervade the substance of all things.
      I have begun hoping for good from You –
         And I look to Saturn, to the soul of Mercury and Jupiter.


   O God, endow me by their effusion with a robe of splendor, the dignity (karāma) of the prophets, the delight of those dear (ahbā’) to You, the knowledge of the wise, the reverence of the godwary (khushū‘ al-atqīyā’), and free me from the realm of misery and transience. Place me among the brothers of sincerity, the companions of faithfulness, and the denizens of heaven, along with the truthful ones and the martyrs.
   There is no god but You, O Cause of all things, Light of earth and heaven. Bestow on me an effusion from the Active Intelligence, O Possessor of majesty and plenty. Purify my soul by the lights of wisdom, and enable me to be thankful for the grace You have conferred on me. Show me the truth as it is, and inspire me to follow it; and falsehood as it is, and preserve me from believing in it, or listening to it. Purify my soul from the clay of matter, O You who are the First Cause. –

      O Cause of all things, by whose
         Overflowing effusion they came into being,
      Creator of the layered heavens, who placed
         In their midst the earth and the seas,
      I implore You as a sinner seeking refuge –
         Forgive the faults of this negligent sinner.
     Purify my kind by an effusion from You, O Creator of all,
         From the turbidity of nature and of the elements.


   O God – Lord of the exalted beings, the heavenly spheres and the celestial spirits – human nature, along with the base desires of this world, have triumphed over Your servant. Make Your protection (‘isma) my shield against transgression, and Your piety a stronghold against turmoil; uplift me to Your unified, pure, and simple realm; for verily whatever You wish You are able to achieve, and You “encompass all things” (Qur’ān 41:54).
   O God, deliver me from the captivity of the four natures, and uplift me to Your most vast expanse and loftiest proximity.
   O God, confer on me a sufficiency that will sever the bonds of earthly bodies and cosmic dominion, and a wisdom that will unite my soul to the divine realms and heavenly spirits.
   O God, purify my soul by the noble Spirit of Holiness, illuminate my intellect and senses with far-reaching wisdom, and make the angels my intimate circle (unsī), instead of the realm of nature.
   O God, inspire me with guidance, strengthen my belief through contentment, and make the love of this world contemptible to my soul.
   O God, empower my soul to overcome fleeting desires, elevate my soul to the abodes of the everlasting souls, and place her amongst the noble, pure and precious substances in the gardens on high, by Your mercy, O Most Merciful of all those who are merciful!
   And may God bless the master of the messengers, seal of the prophets, Muḥammad the chosen one, and his family, the fountains of guidance, who point to the exemplary way, and may God bless his noble companions, the eminent masters. “[God is] sufficient for me, and how excellent a Trustee [He is!]” (Qur’ān 3:173).


[my translation]

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