From the Nahj al-Balaghah
“I attained realization of God, may He be glorified, by the dissolution of resolutions, and by the solution of complexities.” Imam Ali (as)
– الإمام الحسين (عليه السلام): إن رجلا قام إلى أمير المؤمنين فقال: يا أمير المؤمنين، بماذا عرفت ربك؟
قال: بفسخ العزم، ونقض الهم، لما هممت فحيل بيني وبين همي، وعزمت فخالف القضاء عزمي، علمت أن المدبر غيري.
Imam Hussein (as): A man went to the Commander of the Faithful [Imam Ali] and said, ‘Oh Amir al-Mu’minin, by what have you known God?’.
He said, ‘By the dissolution of resolutions, and the undoing of exertions. When I exerted [what was] between me and my effort was dissolved. And when I resolved, the decree went against my resolve. I then came to know that there was a deliberator other than me.
Interestingly enough, thinking of the ways I ‘comfortably’ seek God through the pleasure of reading a book, a poem, or experiencing beautiful and serene moments in my everyday life – and that’s probably one way if you’re given the blessing – Imam Ali (as) speaks to a much more humbling and tested experience of seeking. That which may very well drive many of us away from God, or rather the god we have carved in the image of our small selves.
Imam Ali (as) is talking about feeling of disorientation, of being pained and agitated – and yet moving. with grace that behind all these events is the face of God – shining beyond what feels like our faltering and collapsing. The trials Imam Ali (as) faced during his own life time were extremely difficult to digest – someone with fervor and love for Truth at heart, and yet a political and community leader that tried his best to preserve and unite the Muslim community, often despite himself. It takes an immensely liberated spirit to take on such roles, and basically – keep it together when so much around you falls apart. From losing your beloved role model, your wife, betrayals, violence and isolation and yet giving a helping hand and honoring unity above all else. Through all this, Imam Ali (as) says that it was through the adversities that he attained realization of God – true marifah. I can only personally bear to get a glimpse of this man – the piety and purity he carried in his heart – that allowed him to see God through some of the most disorienting moments imaginable.