An honest introspection after reading theological instructions on Ilm Hudhuri

Is your current knowledge of God based on acquired knowledge or through knowledge by presence? Give answer based on personal experience. 

I find this question to be very interesting and I would like to say that as much as I would have liked to know God by presence the way the great urafas have, I have merely known God (if ever I have known Him) through knowledge. 

The reason why I say  I have known him through knowledge is because it is through witnessing his signs in nature and realizing, while studying biology, sciences and the orderly world in which we live that my mind submitted to the truth that this universe cannot be the fruit of a mere coincidence. My intellect has never been able to accept this fact, as much as I tried to be unbiased. From this perspective, it was more, at the beginning, a choice by default, after failing to accept other alternatives.

According to Ayatollah Misbah, the author of theological instructions, the book that made me ask myself this question, there exists within us, a minute knowledge of God by presence but it is not enough for us to aquire a worldview. I have been thinking about this question whether or not I have bits and pieces of this presence within me.

The most honest answer I can give is the fact that I do not have this presence the way I think it exists. An example of it is the following. From my understanding, someone who knows God by presence is one who acts the same, whether or not he is in public or private, whether he is surrounded or not by friends and family, whether or not he is in a place of worship or not. The reason I say that, is because most of us, and I using myself at the forefront of this example, tend to need reminders of Allah through manifestations. We are reminded of Allah and his worldview when meeting people that are pious. We are more aware of Allah when in mosque, we are most concerned of our behavior in public. This means that although we believe in Allah through rational arguments and our worldview is correct and firm, it needs witnessing manifestations and reminders in order to fill the gap left by not being able to know Allah by presence. 

One who has known Allah for himself by presence, does not need outer manifestation or reminders for him to establish any kind of connection. He sees Allah with his heart all the time. Imam Hussain(a.s) mentioned that in Dua Arafah :

‘O Allah when have You ever been absent so that You may need [to make] a sign?”

 We all need signs to come to God, but Imam Husayn says he does not need a sign

This is perhaps an allusion to Ilm al Huduri (presence) according to sheikh Shomali. In any case, the best example I can come up with when it comes to knowing how much of the presence of Allah I have in me as opposed to how much of Him I know through knowledge takes me back to an analogy mentioned by Aytaollah Jawadi Amoli. Ayatollah mentions that there is a difference between one who sees smoke and infers that there is a fire, and one who is burning in its heat. If anything I have just seen the smoke and have concluded that there is indeed fire. Inshallah one day I can come closer to see the fire myself, and burn in it with Allah’s inspiration.