This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)
* A few individuals have on them remnants of sins of which they are cleaned by the tribulations and afflictions, so they earn degrees in the hereafter that they would not earn without them. You have to be satisfied with the divine decree, observe the Law, and perform good works under all circumstances: in hardship and prosperity, when it is something you love and when it is something you hate. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “If a person is not satisfied with the decree of Allah, there is no medicine for his foolishness.” What He has decreed will come to pass, whether the servant is dissatisfied or satisfied. Woe to you! O you who protest against Allah (mighty and glorified is He), do not speak nonsense! No one can turn back or stop the divine decree. Submit and then you will find comfort. You cannot turn back the night and day. When the night comes, it sets in whether you agree or disagree, and the same is true of the day. Both come without you having a say in the matter. The same is true of the decree of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and His destiny. They are either in your favor or against you. If the night of illness comes, submit and say good bye to the day of well‑being. If the night of poverty comes, submit and bid farewell to the day of affluence. If the night of what you hate comes, submit and say goodbye to the day of what you love. Receive with a patient heart the night of diseases, illnesses, poverty, and the loss of worldly goods. Do not reject anything of the decree of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and His destiny, otherwise you will perish, your faith will vanish, your heart will become impure, and your innermost being will die.
Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has said in one of His books: “I am Allah. There is no god other than Me. When someone submits to My decree, receives My affliction with patience, and offers thanks for My favors, I record him in My presence as a truthful person and I gather him on the Day of Resurrection in the company of the truthful. As for one who does not submit to My decree, does not endure with patience My afflictions, and does not give thanks for My favors, let Him seek a lord other than Me.” If you do not submit to the divine decree, do not endure with patience the affliction, and do not give thanks for the favors, you do not have a lord. Seek a lord other than Him, but there is no lord other than Him. If you like, be satisfied with the divine decree and believe in destiny, whether good or bad, sweet or bitter, for what has come your way could not have been averted through precaution and what has passed you by could not have been made to come your way by exerting efforts and seeking it. When your faith has been confirmed, you will come to the door of sainthood. At this stage, you will become one of the men of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) who have fulfilled their servitude to Him. The distinctive sign of the saint is his compliance with his Lord (mighty and glorified is He) under all circumstances. He becomes total compliance without asking “why” and “how,” while carrying out the commandments and observing the prohibitions. No doubt, then, his company [of Allah] will last. He becomes a front with no back, a state of nearness with no remoteness, purity with no impurity, and goodness with no evil.
* Nothing turns you away from the obedience to Him and the belief in His oneness other than your sins, your ignorance, and the ruined state of your homes and sanctuaries. You will soon regret. Listen to the verses of the Qur’an with the ears of your hearts. Rush to Him from every door, bid farewell to every door, and cling to the door of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He). It is He who is the Remover of harm. It is He who “answers the cry of the distressed person when he calls on Him” (from 27.62). Be patient with Him and then you will experience goodness. Thank Him when He answers you and be patient when His answer is delayed. Courage is an hour of patience.
O Remover of harm and affliction, remove the harm and affliction from us, for You answer the needy person when he prays to You! O Doer of what He wishes, O You who are Capable of everything, O Knower of everything! It is You who has full knowledge of our needs, and it is You who is capable of providing for them. It is You who knows about our faults and sins, and it is You who is Capable of erasing and forgiving them. Do not refer us to someone other than You, do not assign us to someone else, do not send us to the door of someone other than You, and do not turn us to someone else.
* O young man, go out with your heart, stripped naked of all of your possessions, and be secluded from the whole of you so that you will be compensated for all of that. Woe to you! The creatures cannot bring you any benefit or cause you any harm unless Allah (mighty and glorified is He) gives His permission first. Your hearts are in His hand and He moves them as He wishes, sometimes putting them at the service of others and sometimes giving them authority over others. Have you not heard that Allah has said: “Whatever mercy Allah opens to people there is none to withhold” (from 35.2)?
O young man, when affliction comes your way, receive it with faith, patience, submission, and a smile! Be patient with it until its days are gone and its times are over. O seeker, do not escape from the door of your Sought After One because of the arrows of His afflictions! Stand firm and then you will find your Sought After One. When the seeker is afflicted, he needs a master who medicates him during his ordeal, heals him with drinks of patience and thankfulness, commands him to take one thing and keep away from another, and instructs him to turn away from his lower self and refuse to accept its advice. If the person is truthful in the company of his shaikh, Allah (mighty and glorified is He) will sooner or later bring benefits to him. O You who separate between the salty water and the sweet water, separate us from any anger at You and dispute with You against Your decree! Separate us from the acts of disobedience to You with an isthmus of Your mercy. Amen.
* O young man, if Allah causes you any harm or affliction, no one else can remove it. Why, then, do you say to someone who is as powerless as yourself: “Save me from what has hurt me”? If sickness or harm from the creatures comes your way, causing you loss of worldly property and wealth, no one can remove it other than Him. If you suffer loss of property, hunger in your stomach, or abandonment by the brothers and neighbors to the extent that they refuse to give you a morsel or as little as an atom, and if this world seems too strait for you despite its spaciousness, be certain at heart that all of that is from Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and that there is no remover of all of that except Him. No one can remove it other than the One who caused it. It is He who threw it at you so it is He who can remove it. It is He who dressed you with these clothes and it is He who can take them off.
Be sensible and do not associate creatures and means with Allah. Believe in one Lord only not in many. It is He who puts things at the command of others, the One who gives authority to someone over another, the Ruler, the Judge, and the Doer. His destiny comes with sickness in its hand and knocks on the door of your good health. His destiny comes with hardship in its hand and knocks on the door of your prosperity. His destiny comes with grief and sadness in its hand and knocks on the door of your happiness. His destiny comes with fear in its hand and knocks on the door of your sense of security. All these come from Him, and no one can remove them other than Him.
This world is the prison of the believer. Having been put inside it, his feet will start to move and then he will attain the spiritual state of knowingness, at which point the walls of the prison will collapse and the doors will become wide open before him. His heart will acquire feathered wings, so it will fly to the heaven of the Knowledge of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and join the spirits that are there. This is something beyond your comprehension. The hearts of the people of Allah and their souls eat from the plate of the favor of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) while they are still in this world, as the souls of martyrs eat in Paradise. It is here where becoming in no need to the creatures happens. It is here where the kingship of the heart takes place. They are kings in this world and kings in the hereafter. They are chieftains in this world and chieftains in the hereafter.
* Obey and do not disobey. Believe in the oneness of God and do not attribute partners to Him. Your reliance on the creatures and means is a form of polytheism. Woe to you! You are mad! Dissatisfaction and protestation do not give you something or take away another. Your anger would not delay something or bring forward another. The strike of affliction and its removal are both in Allah’s hand. It is He who has sent down the disease and the remedy. It is He who has created the disease and the remedy. He subjects you to afflictions to make you know Him through them, to show you His signs and His power in sending down the affliction and in removing it, and to show you His ability to remove and send down His plate [of grace]. Afflictions show the way to the door of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and knock on it. They bring the heart and the True One (mighty and glorified is He) together. They promote one’s status. Do not hate afflictions for you have benefits in what you hate. Set aside asking “why” and “how.” If you endure the afflictions with patience, they will purify you of the outward and inward sins.
The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “Affliction will continue to come the believer’s way until he comes to walk on earth with no sin.” His sins will be erased from his scrolls and the angels who recorded them will forget them. A certain righteous person used to say: “O Allah, people love You for Your favors and I love You for Your affliction!” One of the people of Allah used to say on the day when no affliction came his way: “O Allah, what sin have I committed today so that you have deprived me of affliction?”
Woe to you! If you are not satisfied with His decree, do not consume His sustenance and seek a lord other than Him. Allah (Exalted is His affair) has said in one of His utterances: “O son of Adam, if you are not satisfied with My decree and are impatient with My affliction, go and seek a lord other than Me!” Be patient with your Lord (mighty and glorified is He), for you have no lord other than Him. There is no second lord. There is no other creator. There is no other provider. Be patient with the will of this One Lord.
* O young man, do not escape from affliction but endure it with patience. It is inevitable and enduring it with patience is also inevitable. How could the nature of this world and the how it was created be changed for your sake? The prophets, who are the best of all creatures, had always to suffer afflictions. The same applies to the followers who emulate them, who walk on their path, and who follow in their footsteps. Our Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) was the beloved of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) and the one for whose sake everything exists yet he was constantly afflicted with poverty, need, hunger, fighting, wars, and harm from the creatures up to the time when he left this world. Take, for instance, the case of Jesus (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) who is the spirit of Allah and His word, who was created by Him without the involvement of a male, who used to heal the blind person and the albino and raise the dead, and whose prayers were always answered. Allah caused his people to insult him, defame his mother, and beat him. He finally escaped from them with his companions, but they tracked them down, arrested them, beat them, and tortured them. Then they intended to crucify Jesus (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) but Allah (high is He) rescued him from them and caused the person who led them to him to be crucified instead.
Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) was also afflicted with the calamities that happened to him, and each one of the prophets (prayer and peace be on them) had his share of affliction. This is what He did to the prophets and messengers (prayer and peace be on them) who are His beloved ones, so who are you to wish to change Allah’s foreknowledge about you and about this world?
Renounce your will and your choice. Renounce your conversation with your lower self, passion, and this world of yours. Renounce your conversation with the creatures and your intimacy with them. If you accomplish this, the conversation of your heart will come to be with your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and your intimacy will be with Him. His remembrance will camp in your heart. You will be remembering Him and He will be remembering you. He will snatch your heart and your limbs and senses to Him and keep them. You will come to want what He wants, and anything else will be resented by you. When a person becomes one of the spiritual beings who have attained to Him, he will wander among the servants of Allah and various countries, and He will use him to protect the creatures from tribulations and afflictions. He will take what His lord (mighty and glorified is He) has given him. This is the real gift, while everything else is worthless.
* The best interests are enclosed within the folds of disliked things. Be sensible and acquire politeness. Afflictions come to the hearts of the truthful persons, salute them, and intercede on their behalf. The person who has established a strong relationship with Allah embraces afflictions, kisses them on the forehead, and endures them with patience, compliance, and contentment. They stay with him for a while before being taken away and asked: “How did you find the place and the hospitality?” They will reply: “An excellent place and an excellent host. An excellent gift and an excellent receiver!” One of these righteous people (may Allah show mercy to him), who was afflicted with a tribulation, was asked: “How are you doing in this affliction?” He replied: “Ask the affliction about me!”
Be patient with your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) for He removes your affliction and promotes you spiritually in His eyes as a reward for your patience. Be with Him against your lower selves. Be with those who are truthful in His company — who work with Him, by Him, and for His sake. O Allah, put things at our command, provide for us, open up opportunities for us, and make things easy for us and on us! Amen.
Faith that is shaken by illness, poverty, hunger, and loss of worldly things is not real faith. The essence and the well‑being of faith become visible and its light shines at the time of affliction. Its courage also becomes apparent when the army of affliction comes. Your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) is fully aware of what you do. O kings, O slaves, O elite people, O common people, O rich, O poor, O people of private cells, O people of public places, no one has a veil that can hide him from Him! He (high is He) is with you wherever you may be. O Allah, protect, forgive, pardon in the form of subtle kindness, patience, tolerance, care, sufficiency, good health, and well‑being! Amen.
With regard to everything that you are involved in of good and evil, truthfulness and lies, sincerity and polytheism, obedience and disobedience, He (high is He) is Knowledgeable, an Expert, Watchful, Present, and a Witness. Feel a sense of shame as He has His eyes on you. Look with the eye of faith and then you will see His glances coming from your six directions. Is this preaching not sufficient for you? Only if you heed and hear with the ears of your hearts! All that you need is fear of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) in both your private and public lives. Be vigilant with Him (high is He) and be aware of His glances at you and of the Honorable Recording Angels who are with you. Be afraid of Him, not of the punishments prescribed by His Law and which may be applied to you by your sultan and your prince. If you will be afraid of Him, your ruler will not tire with you.
O you who are poor, O you who are hungry, O you who are naked, O you who are in need! You appeal to other than Him for help? Your silence is better and more beneficial to you. His knowledge of your situation should be sufficient for you not to put in a request. He has afflicted you in order for you to come back to Him. So, return with your heart to Him and stand firm and then you will experience good. Do not insist on a quick response from Him, do not accuse Him of stinginess, and do not harbor doubts about Him. He has caused you to experience hunger, nakedness, and poverty in order to look and see, in terms of differentiation not in terms of knowledge, whether you will cling to His door or to someone else’s door, whether you will be satisfied or dissatisfied with Him, whether you will complain to Him or complain from Him, and whether you will shout at Him or beseech Him gently. He afflicts you with tribulations to see how you behave.
O ignorant ones, you have left the door of the Wealthy One (high is He) and clung to the door of someone who is poor! You have left the door of the Generous One and clung to the door of someone who is stingy. You have left the door of the Merciful One and clung to the door of one who is merciless. You have left the door of the Capable One and clung to the door of one who is powerless. O ignorant ones, He will soon gather you together and make you stand in His presence! This will happen on the Day of Assembly. He will gather you, you of all races, O all of you creatures! The Invincible One has said: “This is the Day of Separation. We have assembled you together with those of the ancient times. So if you have a scheme, try it against Me” (77.38‑39).
On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will assemble all creatures on an earth other than this; an earth on which no blood of an innocent creature had ever been shed and on which no sin had ever been committed. There is no doubt or uncertainty about that. Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has said: “And because the Hour is coming, there is no doubt about it; and because Allah will raise up those who are in the tombs” (22.7). The Day of Resurrection is “the Day of Loss and Gain” (from 64.9), “the Day of the Sigh [of Remorse]” (from 19.39), the Day of Remorse, the Day of Reminding, the Day of Compliance, the Day of Testimony, the Day of Retribution, the Day of Happiness, the Day of Sorrowfulness, the Day of Fear, the Day of Security, the Day of Bliss, the Day of Torment, the Day of Rest, the Day of Toil, the Day of Thirst, the Day of Giving Drinks, the Day of Clothing, the Day of Nakedness, the Day of Wining, the Day of Losing, the Day on which “the believers will rejoice in the victory from Allah” (from 30.4‑5). O Allah, we seek refuge in You from the evil of that Day, beg You to grant us its good, and [pray to you that You] “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”
* Evict from your hearts all opponents, peers, and partners, for the True One (mighty and glorified is He) does not accept any partner — in particular in the heart, which is His abode. One day, when they were still little boys, Al‑Ḥasan and Al‑Ḥussein1 (peace be on them) were playing in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him), and he was happy with them and totally busy with them. So Gabriel (peace be on him) came and said to him: “This one will be poisoned and that one will be killed.” He told him this in order to remove them from his heart and to convert his happiness with them to grief about them. The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) loved [his wife] ‘Āisha (may Allah be satisfied with her), so she came to be involved in that notorious story. She was, thus, removed from his heart despite his certainty of her innocence, because he (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) recognized the aim of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) behind that event. And as Jacob (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) loved Joseph (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him), he came to experience what he experienced and He separated him from Joseph. Similar things frequently happened to the prophets and saints (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them), who are the beloved of the True One (mighty and glorified is He). Because He is jealous, He evicts from their hearts anyone other than Him.
* Afflictions and tribulations realize faith, knowingness, and Knowledge. They differentiate between the kernel and the shell. The person who remains compliant throughout is a kernel, whereas one who disputes about them is a shell. When the person is compliant with His Lord (mighty and glorified is He), the shell of creatures is peeled from his heart so he becomes a kernel with no shell. When the person’s belief in the oneness of God and his trust in Him have gathered strength and he has come to see Him with the eye of certitude, he will never turn back and leave the way of the True One (mighty and glorified is He), will never run away from His door, and will adhere to truthfulness and integrity.
* How much you fear hunger and poverty! If you had certitude you would not have thought of these. Comply with your Lord’s (mighty and glorified is He) will. If He subjects you to hunger, endure it with patience, with a good feeling in your hearts. If He satisfies your hunger, offer thanks to Him. He knows your best interests better than you do. He is not stingy or gives little. It is related that seventy prophets (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on them), who are buried between Al‑Multazam2 and Al‑Muqām,3 were killed by hunger and lice. Did not he have something in His kingdom to satisfy their hunger? But He chose and accepted that for them. He did that to them in order to promote them; not because they were insignificant in His eyes, but because this world is insignificant in His sight. When He wants one of His servants exclusively for Himself, He deprives him of his will and places a screen between him and other things so that his lower self melts down, the fire of his natural inclination subsides, and his soul finds living in this world a heavy burden and longs for the hereafter where His Lord (mighty and glorified is He) is. He will therefore wish for and enjoys the taste of death in order to be alone with His Lord (mighty and glorified is He). This is what happens in most such cases.
* The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “We prophets are subjected to afflictions more than other people, next are those who are closer to us, and so on.” When the believer is afflicted, he endures his affliction with patience. He conceals his affliction from other creatures and does not complain to them. This is why the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “The cheerfulness of the believer is on his face, whereas his sorrow is in his heart.” He greets people cheerfully to conceal what is in his heart. The believers hide the treasures of their inwards. They place a cover over the true nature of their hearts. Sorrow is the true nature of the hearts, whereas fear is the true nature of the souls. Sadness is a cloud that showers on the hearts various kinds of wisdom and secrets.
Why do not you endure with patience sadness and heartbreaking when Allah has said in one of His utterances: “I am with those whose hearts are broken on My account”? Whenever the hearts are broken because of remoteness, the setter of nearness sets them. Whenever they become estranged from the creatures, intimacy with Allah (mighty and glorified is He) comes to them. Whenever they become alienated from the creatures, they seek the intimacy of the nearness to Allah (mighty and glorified is He). The longer their sorrow in this world lasts, the longer will their happiness be in the hereafter. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) was in continuous sorrow and in permanent reflection as if he was listening to a speaker who speaks to him or to someone who was calling on him. Those whom he ordered the people to follow — his representatives, deputies, and heirs — are likewise in relation to the lengthiness of their sadness and the permanence of their reflection. How could they fail to emulate his works when they are in his station, being fed his food, having their thirst quenched by his drink, and being put on the backs of his horses, and fight with his swords and spears?
1 The grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad (prayer and peace be on him).