The ultimate goal of Hinduism is to return to our source and find complete union – merging with God, like the rivers flowing into the ocean (mokṣa)
In Islam for the unbelievers, there is eternal damnation and torture in the Hellfire. (Some Sufis consider that Hell is temporary and not eternal.)
Hinduism rejects such a doctrine as being incompatible with the infinite compassion of an omnipotent Being – there is no consequence of disbelief just further cycles of human rebirth.
The spiritual path is based on submission to the will of Allah in Islam and obeying his laws and following the five pillars — i.e. the path of servitude. In Islam, there is only one relationship one can have with God and that is master/servant. (The Sufis differed.)
In Hinduism, one can choose from a number of different ways to relate to God according to one’s personal inclination. Servant/master, lover/beloved, friend/friend, parent/child, savior/saved, husband/wife, supporter/supported, the enjoyer/ object of enjoyment, etc.
- 5 Identify the salient features of Shah Waliullah’s political philosophy.
Shah Wali Allah wrote in both Arabic and Persian. He published between fifty and seventy works, including five collections of letters and epistles. His writings played a major role in the intellectual and spiritual life of the Muslims in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, a role that continues today.
Some of these works have greatly changed the Muslim approach to the study of the Qur’an.
In addition, Shah Wali Allah tried to reshape Islamic metaphysics in greater conformity with the teachings of the Qur’an and the sunna of the Prophet.
He adopted a more rational approach to the controversial issues of metaphysics, which led to greater harmony among subsequent Islamic metaphysical thinkers. He was careful to give a balanced criticism of some of the views of his predecessors and contemporaries.
His constructive and positive approach to those issues was always considered a sincere attempt at reconciliation.
Shah Wali Allah made the first attempt to reconcile the two (apparently) contradictory doctrines of wahdat al-wujud (unity of being) of Ibn al-‘Arabi and wahdat al-shushed (unity in conscience) of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi.
Shaykh Muhyi al-Din ibn al- ‘Arabi, the advocate of wahdat al-wujud, was of the opinion that being, in reality, is one and God. All other actual and possible beings in the universe are manifestations and states or modes of his Divine Names and Attributes.
By the act of creation through the word Kun (be), Ibn al-‘Arabi means the descent of Absolute Existence into determined beings through various stages. This gradual descent of the Absolute Existence is called tanazzulat al-khamsa (five descents) or ta’ayyunat al-khamsa (five determinations) in Sufi terminology.
On the other hand, according to Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, the exponent of the doctrine of wahdat al-shushed, God and creation are not identical; rather, the latter is a shadow or reflection of the Divines Name and Attributes when they are reflected in the mirrors of their opposite non-beings (a’dam al-mutaqabila).
Shah Wali Allah neatly resolved the conflict, calling these differences ‘verbal controversies’ which have come about because of ambiguous language. If we leave, he says, all the metaphors and similes used for the expression of ideas aside, the apparently opposite views of the two metaphysicians will agree.
The positive result of Shah Wali Allah’s reconciliatory efforts was twofold: it brought about harmony between the two opposing groups of metaphysicians, and it also legitimized the doctrine of wahdat al-wujud among the mutakallimun (theologians), who previously had not been ready to accept it.
Shah Wali Allah wrote about thirteen works on metaphysics, which contain his constructive and balanced metaphysical system. One of the most important is al-Khayr al-Kathir (The Abundant Good). This work is divided into ten chapters, each called a khizana (treasure).
The first four chapters deal with the reality of wujud (being), knowledge of God, the relationship between God and the universe, and human knowledge. From the discussion of human knowledge, Shah Wali Allah turns to the discussion of the reality of prophecy and the prophethood of Muhammad.
In the seventh khizana, he deals with the rules and principles of sainthood and mysticism. The eighth and ninth chapters contain details about practical aspects of Islam, the shari’a, as well as the eschatological view of Islam. In the tenth khizana, Shah Wali Allah explains his theological view which, according to him, is in full accord with Ash’arite theology.
Altaf al-quds fi ma’rifat lata’if al-nafs (The Sacred Knowledge) is another metaphysical work concerned with the inner dimensions of human personality. Here Shah Wali Allah deals with the important questions of mystical intuition (kashf) and inspiration (Ilham).
He examines systematically the reality of both the external and internal perceptive qualities of a human being as the heart, the intellect, the spirit, the self, the secret (al-ser), and the ego.
A separate chapter is devoted to the metaphysical teachings of Shaykh Junaid Baghdadi, wherein he presents a brief historical account of mysticism.
The last chapter deals with the subtle question of ‘thoughts and their causes’. Shah Wali Allah specifies various external and internal causes which affect the human mind and produce thoughts.
Sata’at (Manifestations) is a systematic division of wujud (being), representing Shah Wali Allah’s view concerning the tashkil al-wujud (hierarchy or gradation of being). Existence, in relation to determining to be, is composed of existence and essence and has many grades, stages, and modes.
The particular beings in the universe provide the foundation for the claim of the tashkil (gradation) and kashrut (multiplicity) of being. Each grade or stage covers a certain area of determination and each stage is related to the next, not in a way that a material being is connected to another material being, but in Malawi (conceptual) manner.
He describes the relationship between the various stages of being as like that between the lights of various lamps in a single room. The lights of these lamps are apparently mingled and are one, and are difficult to differentiate from one another; but in reality, they are distinguishable from one another because of the number of the lamps.
A hallmark of Shah Wali Allah was his ability to reconcile opposing points of view to the satisfaction of each side. Standing behind this aspect of his teachings is the unity of the Muslim community or umma.
His powerful abilities as a reconciler enabled him to provide common ground and a strong basis for cooperation and harmony between the Sunni and Shi’i.
Shah Wali Allah lived during a time of political and moral decline, chaos, and destruction in the Mughul empire. His vantage point near the center of the Muslim state gave him a clear view of the situation.
He did his best to bring stability to the tottering empire and protect the Indian Muslims from disaster. Through his writings, especially his letters, he appealed to the Muslim rulers, nobles, and intelligentsia to be aware of the dreadful situation and its possible consequences.
His correspondence reveals many factors of Indian politics in the eighteenth century. His detailed letter to Ahmad Shah Abdali, the founder, and ruler of Afghanistan, contained a comprehensive picture of the political situation in India.
Ahmad Shah Abdali heeded Shah Wali Allah’s call to invade India and restore Muslim power to the country, culminating in the defeat of the Marathas and their allies at the battle of Panipat in 1761.
Shah Wali Allah himself left a rich intellectual legacy in the form of literary works, well-trained disciples including his four sons – who also became eminent scholars – and one of the greatest educational institutions of the time.