...; Professor Henry Corbin (1903-1978) in his book History of Islamic Philosophy writes: "The sixth Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq, specified further:
'Our cause is a secret (sirr) within a secret, a secret of something which remains hidden, a secret which may only be disclosed by another secret; a secret upon a secret which is supported by a secret.' And again: Our cause is the truth and the truth of truth (haqq al-haqq); it is the exoteric aspect, and the esoteric aspect of the exoteric aspect, and the esoteric aspect of the esoteric aspect. It is the secret, and the secret of something which remains hidden, a secret which is supported by a secret.' The significance of these remarks was already observed in a poem written by the fourth Imam, 'Ali Zayn al-'Abidin (d. 95/714): 'I conceal the jewels of my Knowledge — For fear that some ignorant man, on seeing the truth, should crush usO Lord! if I were to reveal one pearl of my gnosis — They would say to me: are you then a
worshipper of idols? — And there would be Muslims who would see
justice in the shedding of my blood! — They find abominable the most beautiful thing they are offered.'
2. One could make many citations of a similar import. They testify
most admirably to the ethos of Shiism, to the awareness it possesses of being the esotericism of Islam; and it is impossible, historically
speaking, to go back further than the teachings of the Imams in seeking for the sources of Islamic esotericism..."