Ta'wil of To Allah We Belong and to Him We Return

On the Ta'wil of ‘Inna li’Llahi wa-inna ilayhi Raji’un’ (We belong to Allah and unto Him we return) 

"We say, by the grace of God, may He be exalted, that it is incumbent upon people to say these words when physical calamities befall them and when they are confronted with difficult tasks. As God, may He be exalted, says: ‘Those who say, when a misfortune strikes them: Lo! We belong to Allah and unto Him we are returning’ (Q. 2:156-57). The Arabs describe the difficult times as the darkness of night, because no task is more difficult than one from which people cannot see a way of escape. That difficult situation is darkness. 

Darkness is of two kinds, physical and spiritual. Physical darkness is due to the night and physical calamities (karha-yi bi-saamaan). Spiritual darkness however, is ignorance and the intractable questions concerning the intelligibles. Dispelling these two darknesses we have described, comes from God through the mediation of two lights. One is the sun that dispels the physical darkness and the other is the Imam of the time who, as the sun of insight for spiritual darkness, unravels difficult knots. When people are overcome by physical darkness and difficulty, they must submit to the decree of God, be pleased with whatever has been decreed and say: ‘We belong to Allah and unto Him we are returning’. That is, we belong to Allah, accept what He has decreed and return to Him if any physical calamity befalls us whereby we perish physically. 

In ta’wil, when the believers face a difficult question regarding the intelligibles that they cannot solve, they must recite these same words in the sense: ‘Our souls belong to the lord of the time, as we have received spiritual life from him and our return during difficulties is unto him,’ and know that ‘we cannot solve this question and the knowledge of this is with the lord of the time,’ so that the door of blessings may open for them. Either they themselves may be able to understand it, or a hadd (rank) from the hadds of religion may open the door of spiritual blessings for them.” 

- Nasir-e Khusraw,  Wajh-e Din (tr. by Faquir M. Hunzai) in “An Anthology of Ismaili Literature: A Shi’i Vision of Islam” (ed. by Hermann Landolt, Samira Sheikh and Kutub Kassam), p. 207.

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