And this was the first real prayer of Abu Dhar

 by Dr. Ali Shariati*: In the prevailing darkness of the night of oppression, the dawn was under the influence of the rising of another sun; the world, in a silence before the storm; and history, in contemplation of a great rebellion against the earthly gods and their shadows and signs—the gods of heaven: multitheism.

In the depths of the consciences upon which falls the shadow of ‘Divine Will’ and in the concealment of primordial natures, which seemingly are related to the essence of being, indescribable and strange changes began to appear, just like the enigmatic sense of scent of wild birds, who perceive a storm’s coming and, hurriedly, migrate from their land; or, like the mysterious instinct of alert horses who arise before the occurrence of an earthquake, rend apart the bridle and leave the master’s house, saddleless, riderless, heading f or the desert, lonely spirits sense that there is something in the air, something great! Sometimes a person is a world, and sometimes an individual is a society!

And Jundab, the son of Junadah, a bedouin Arab from Ghifar, a poverty stricken tribe from Rabadhah, a wilderness between Mecca and Medina, along the way of the Quraysh commercial caravans and pilgrimage to the Kaaba, with brazen men, fearless before customs, rules and laws, and, as a result, in the eyes of one who lives in the refuge of these arrangements and systems and prospers from its blessings and security, notorious, reckless, evil and ethically corrupt! for ethics here means following customs, obeying laws, and all of these are protecting walls enclosing exclusiveness and privileges: right and rights, order and security and all of this was so that this this man could eat well and enjoy himself at the head of his sumptuous feasts among a group of the hungry.

Ghifar: a notorious tribe; bandits! Bandits of the goods and slaves of the commercial caravans, reckless, who do not even hold the four forbidden months in respect.

They also disturb the security ruling the peninsula during these four months. When the commercial caravans, which are in motion between Rome, Mecca and Iran, under the protection of religion during these months of pilgrimage, pass the place of danger of Rabadhah, they once again see the Ghifar, swords above their heads, flying at them from their place of ambush.

The people of Ghifar, these poor, sinful, wicked people, instead of extending their hands like a beggar’s bowl to the commercial caravans, offer their swords to the masters!

The son of Junadah is one of these and this is why later when he becomes Abu Dharr, “He is perplexed by a hungry person who has no bread in his house; why does he not arise from among the people, his sword unsheathed and rebel.”

Jundab, the son of Junadah, like every Ghifari man, knows that in a system of tyranny, every law and rule, custom and ethic, order and security is a guard of tyranny, and obeying it, ignorance. But he took a step—the last step, going further than any other, he knew that here the ruling religion has such a role, and obeying it, Kufr.

With all of his anger and hatred, he hit the idol

And an idol? What is this? One night when the tribe had gone on a pilgrimage to Manat, the Ghifar idol, and with the ardency, happiness, enthusiasm and zealty of praying, worshipping, vowing and need, begging for rain to be saved from famine and drought which threatened the Ghifars with death, he, in the depths of his certainty, sensed the sacred flame of a doubt.

This flame of wisdom was further kindled in the breeze of contemplation and deep and continuous deliberations when the tribe fell asleep; the mysterious silence set up a tent in the environs of Manat, in the wilderness, night and heaven; he quietly arose, picked up a stone, with uncertainty and, fluctuating between doubt and certainty, went forward; for a moment he remained staring into the eyes of the deity of his time.

He found nothing but two non-seeing eyes; with all of his anger and hatred, he hit this idol, which had been carved by ignorance and tyranny, with the stone.

The sound of stone hitting stone and … then nothing. Returning in salvation towards the Absolute, being all at once released from the chains, bonds and shackles which seemingly had been wound around his soul for centuries, he suddenly sensed that he had, alone and unknown, left a deep well and a narrow and dark cave in which he had been imprisoned from the beginning of creation. He looked at the wilderness, a shoreless expanse; to the horizons, distant, extensive and heaven! full of glory, beautiful, deep and mysterious … it was as if he had seen them, and could see them, for the first time.

And this was the first real prayer of Abu Dhar

Through faith and certainty, he had attained release and a void and now, little by little, new edges of faith and certainty but clear, large, deep, conscious, that which he himself chooses!

Under the rain of thought which incessantly grows stronger and stronger, he sensed that springs open to him in the dark, dry and thirsty inner desert and now, ‘the sound of the steps of water!’ and every moment, faster and faster; it rises high and higher and acquires all of his inner self; he is filled by it. In the painful inflammation and anguishing ardency of a birth, alone in the world, a shadow alone in the desert, in the night, under the conversant sky of the desert, all of his existence addressed to ‘Him!’, he suddenly falls upon the dust, head in prostration upon the earth and the sound of impatient, ancient complexes came undone, crying!

And this was the first real prayer of Abu Dhar. “Three years before I met the Prophet of God, I prayed to God.”

“To which direction did you turn?”

“To the direction in which He made me aware of Himself.”

Three years later he heard that a man had appeared in Mecca who makes fun of the people’s religion; who calls the sacred things of the people, ‘false’; who names all of the great idols of the Kaaba, ‘mute and foolish stones’; who has placed the One God for the gods of all.

The Ghifar wayfarers and travelers received this news as if it were a tragedy for religion and Arab ethics. They spoke of him with words filled with ridicule and aversion, but Jundab, in the midst, found his lost self.

He knew that whatever the fossil-worshippers, who connect their multitheist, polluted, ignorant superstitions to Abraham, the idol-destroyer, condemn, call Kufr, interpret as the cause for: discord in society, the lethargy of beliefs, the deviation of the thoughts of the youth, the boldness of the lowly people of society, the shaking of the base of morality and faith, the cause of the pessimism and separation amidst a boy and a girl and his or her mother and father, the cause of the scorn of nobles, glories and religious personalities, the disappearance of respect for the ancients, the authenticity of early myths and customs of ancestors and grandfathers and … all are clear signals of a salvation-giving Revolution and firm signs of a Divine truth.

And Jundab, who was from among the pulsating and revolutionary spirits, who does not become hard and stone-like in the narrow moulds of social and hereditary traditions, does not lag behind movement, creativity, ability to change, transformation and the power to choose, sensed there is something in the air; this is exactly what his unlettered spirit and liberated thought sought in the solitude of the desert, in his inner alone ness.

He himself to arise and investigate

He did not remain indifferent before this ‘news’. Responsibility obliged him to begin to search and not to base his persuasion and judgment on rumors, propaganda, lies, insults and successive falsifications, which are structured by the self interested elite and are spread by the generated populace and he himself to arise and investigate, because a person’s judgment is the most outstanding sign of his or her personality.

Whosoever judges against a person, a thought, an action, a movement and against every reality, based upon what others have said, and the source of all of heir thought and judgment is a person called, ‘Mr. So and So Says … before they ignorantly and unfairly condemn a truth, there are deprived who have condemned themselves to the intellectual bondage of the powers of their age, superstition-making masters and their manifest and hidden propaganda facilities—and they have shown that they are the impotent ruminators of rumors, insults and lies which the enemy places a special order for, the hypocrite structures, the demagogue spreads and the populace accepts!

But the son of Junadah sent his brother, Anis, to Mecca to see, at close hand, this man condemned to lying insanity, witchcraft, poetry and Kufr, who they say had come to take away the respect of the house of God, to change social unity into conflict and discord and family solidarity into dispersion and hostility, listen to his words, grasp his message and give him [Abu Dhar] a report.

Anis came to Mecca. He did not find the man. No one pointed out this nameless, placeless stranger to him. Hopelessly, he searched through the city. He heard nothing other than abuse, ridicule, aversion and hatred about this man. Every place, mosque, bazaar, and person, in particular, ‘respectable people’, ‘reputable personalities’, ‘the big shots of religion and the world’ and also ‘believing worshippers and religiously prejudiced’, ‘the believers in Abraham’s traditions and the house of Abraham!’ repeated similar words and rumors about him, which reached the level of concatenations.

“He is crazy; a magician. The allure of his words is not the magnetism of revelation; it is magic; it is not the beauty of truth, it is poetry; he does not receive his words from Gabriel; his words are not his own either; a foreign scholar intimates what he should say; he gets them from a Christian monk, an Iranian scholar; he is a calamity who has descended upon the ummah of Abraham; he throws the honor of the mosque, the sacredness of the House of God, the tradition of the pilgrimage, the worship of the gods, the genuineness of ethics, the respect of families and all of the honors and values of our ancestors to the winds.”


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