‘Allama al-Tabataba’i while he was busy engaged in the remembrance of Allah in the Mosque of Kufa in ‘Iraq. His mentor in Gnosis (‘irfan), Ayatullah Sayyid ‘Ali Qadhi al-Tabataba’i warned him from paying any attention to whatever comes about while he is busy in his remembrance of Allah. ‘Allama is reported to have said that once while he was immersed in the remembrance of Allah (dhikr Allah) in the Mosque of Kufa, he suddenly saw a beautiful heavenly damsel (hour al-‘in) appear before him with a cup of heavenly wine. Observing the instructions of his mentor, he paid no attention to her. So she appeared to him from the other side and persistently requested ‘Allama to accept her offer, but the latter did not pay attention to her again. ‘Allama writes in his personal memoirs that due to his inattention, she was so frustrated that he can still remember her state. This scenario obviously was not in the present realm of al-dunya, for Houris are damsels of Paradise, and hence, do not have material existence. In reality ‘Allama, was visioning what was beyond this world. Analysts believe that what ‘Allama saw was perhaps the result of his own dhikr, which in our traditions can be the cause of the creation of such rewards.
What his mentor, however, said was very important and meaningful, because attending to the All Beloved is loftier than attending to the result of one’s own actions (hour al-‘in). Further more, it is due the remembrance of the Only Beloved, that makes a loving houri magnetized to ‘Allama al-Tabataba’i and frustrated when he pays no attention to her.
According to a beautiful dictum of a great saint, “Agar behisht shireen ast, behisht afreen shirintar ast’‘(If Paradise is sweet, the Creator of Paradise is even sweeter’).