This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)
* O young man! When you come into my presence, give up your appreciation for your deeds and self-admiration. Come in with nothing, as one who is bankrupt. If you have high regard for your deeds and yourself you will be astonished at what I am talking about and you will hate me because I speak the truth and disagree with you. No one hates me other than the enemy of Allah and no one is ignorant of me except one who is ignorant of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), given to much talk and little action. No one loves me but one who is knowledgeable of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), given to much action and little talk. The sincere person loves me, whereas the hypocrite hates me. One who follows the Sunna1 loves me, whereas one who follows heretical innovations hates me. If you love me, you are the one who will receive the benefits of that; and if you hate me, you are the one who will suffer the harm. I pay no attention to the praise and dispraise of the creatures.
* The person who wishes for success must become a piece of ground under the feet of shaikhs. What are the attributes of these shaikhs? They are those who have abandoned this world and the creatures and have bidden farewell to everything from beneath the Throne down to beneath the surface of the earth — that is the heavens and what is therein and the earths and what is therein. They are those who have given up all things and bidden them the farewell of one who will never return to them again. They have said farewell to all creatures including their own selves, for they are in the presence of their Lord (mighty and glorified is He) in all of their states. Anyone who seeks a company that guides him to the True One (mighty and glorified is He) yet keeps his lower self is in illusion and fantasy.
The person whose renunciation and belief in the oneness of God are sound does not see the existence of the creatures, does not see a giver other than the True One (mighty and glorified is He), and does not see a benefactor other than Him. How great your need is, O all of you people of this world, to listen to these words! How great your need is, O ignorant ascetics, to listen to these words! Most ascetic worshippers are servants of the creatures, associating them with God.
* O hermits and recluses, come and get a taste of my words, if only a single letter! Accompany me for a day or a week so that you may learn something that benefits you. Woe to you! The majority of you are in illusion, worshipping the creatures in your cells. This business does not come about by sitting in retreats while being ignorant. Woe to you! Walk in search of Knowledge and knowledgeable scholars until no further walking is possible. Walk until nothing obeys you [in your wish to walk]. When you become unable to walk, sit down. Walk with your outward, then with your inward, then with your heart, and then with your essence. When you have become totally exhausted outwardly and inwardly and have to sit, nearness to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and attainment to Him will come to you.
* If you come to me but do not put my teachings into practice you would only be a nuisance to the audience. As long as you are in your shop, you continue to think of your failing business, and when you come to me it is only to comfort yourself. No matter how many times you come to listen, it is as if you heard nothing. O property owner! Forget about your property and come and sit among the poor and be humble to Allah and to them.
* Be sensible, abandon your prestigious position and come and sit here like one of the group so that my words get planted in the land of your heart. If you have sense you will accompany me, be content with a morsel from me every day, and endure with patience the harshness of my words. Anyone who has faith will stand firm and grow, whereas the person who lacks faith will run away from me. Woe to you, O you who claim to know the spiritual states of others! How can we believe you when you have not managed to know your own state? This is nothing but telling of lies, so repent from the telling of lies. O Allah, grant us truthfulness under all conditions and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire” (from 2.201).
* Woe to you, O you who associate creatures with God! How often you knock on doors behind which there is none to answer you, and how often you hammer cold iron without heating it with fire! You have no sense, you have no proper reasoning, and you do not know the proper behavior. Woe to you! Come close to me and have a morsel from my food. If you taste my food you will renounce the food of others. If you get a taste of the food of the Creator, your heart and innermost being will renounce the food of the creatures. This takes place in the heart — behind the clothes, the flesh, and the skin. This heart will never be sound as long as it is inhabited by any creature. Certainty [of faith] will remain incomplete as long as there is an atom of love of this world in the heart. When faith has become certitude, certitude has become knowingness, and knowingness has become Knowledge, you will become an expert in distinguishing between the good and the bad in the service of Allah (mighty and glorified is He). You will take from the hand of the rich and give back to the poor. You will become the owner of the kitchen, dishing out sustenance with the hand of your heart and innermost being.
O hypocrite, you are unworthy of respect until you come to be like this! Woe to you! You have not acquired good manners at the hand of an ascetic shaikh who practices pious restraint and is learned in the Law of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and His Knowledge. Woe to you! You want something in return for nothing, so you will get nothing. Worldly things cannot be earned without diligence, so what of that which is in the presence of Allah (mighty and glorified is He)?
* When the seeker’s company of the shaikh has become sound, the shaikh will feed and nourish him from his heart with the food and drink of knowingness. O seekers, empty your hearts of the creatures and then you will see wonders! Tomorrow it will be said to the people of Paradise: “Enter Paradise,” and today, when the True One (mighty and glorified is He) examines the hearts of the elite of His servants and finds them empty of this world, Paradise, and anything other than Him, He will say to them: “Enter the Paradise of My nearness now and later on.”
*Adhering to what I say is a sign of faith and running away from it is a sign of hypocrisy. O Allah, forgive us, do not expose us in this world and the hereafter, and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”
* Refined behavior is as much an obligatory duty on the knower as is repentance on the disobedient person. How can he fail to be well‑mannered when he is the nearest of all creatures to the Creator? If someone builds social relationships with kings but behaves ignorantly, his ignorance will bring him near to being put to death. Everyone who lacks polite behavior is detested by the creatures and the Creator. Any time in which good manners are lacking is loathed. Refined behavior in the company of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) is essential.
O young man, if you know me you will not leave me and you will follow me wherever I go. You will be incapable of leaving whether I assign you work to do or leave you without work, take from you or give you, impoverish you or enrich you, tire you or rest you. The requirements for becoming like this are to think well [of me] and cultivate good intention, both of which you lack. How could you, then, be fit for my company and benefit from my words? Victory lies in cultivating good behavior in the company of the Creator (mighty and glorified is He) and the creatures. O Allah, do not let their hearing of these words be evidence against them but render it evidence in their favor! “O our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire!”
* My enemy and one who loves me are both equal in my sight. I have no friend or foe left on the face of the earth. This happens only after one loves Allah, cultivates sound belief in His oneness, and sees the creatures as powerless. One who is pious to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) is my friend, whereas one who disobeys Him is my enemy. The former is the friend of my faith and the latter is its enemy. O Allah, let this be always true of me, establish it firmly, and make me totally committed to it! Make it a genuine attribute of mine, not merely something that I pretend. You know that I twine the fibers of the ropes of Your religion and of the ropes of Your will, and that I am the servant of Your servants — those who have renounced everything other than You in seeking Your satisfaction.
* O ignorant one, O you who embrace the gold coin and the silver one, O you who rejoice in the praise and commendation of the creatures! You are the servant of praise, applause, and rewards. If you have sense you will weep over yourself. “We belong to Allah, and to Him we return” (from 2.156). There is no might or strength but by Allah, the High, the Great. O Allah, grant us fulfilling the servitude to You and being truthfulness in seeking You and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire!”
O young man, the truthful person has no backward movements. He is always moving forward. He has a front but no back. He keeps to his truthfulness until his atom becomes a mountain, his drop a sea, his little bit so much, his lamp a sun, and his shell a kernel. If you are ever fortunate to come across a truthful person, stay always close to him. If you are ever fortunate to meet one who has your remedy, keep always close to him. If you ever have the good fortune to come across one who guides you to what you have lost, remain always close to him. You may never get to know such people for they are a few, rare individuals. The shell is abundant but the kernel is rare. The shells are in the garbage dumps, whereas the kernel is in the treasuries of the kings.
* The people of Allah are ill and their Physician is with them. They are ill in the presence of their Physician, on the lap of His generosity and His subtle kindness. He handles them with His favor, grace, and mercy. One who does not see a successful person will never succeed. Sit in the presence of the people of Allah, listen to their utterances, and accompany them for the sake of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) not for the sake of this world, and then you will benefit from them.
* You are unworthy of respect! I speak the truth to you so it is up to you whether you wish to come or not, whether you wish to praise or dispraise me. The Invincible One has said: “And say [O Muhammad!] ‘[this is] the truth from your Lord,’ so let him who will, believe; and let him who will, disbelieve” (from 18.29). No one runs away from the sharpness of my words other than one who is a hypocrite, impostor, swindler, follower of his passion, obedient to his lower self; violates the Book of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and the Sunna of the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him); hates the truth; loves falsehood; takes no steps with his heart to draw near to his Master (mighty and glorified is He).
O young man, hear and look with your heart without doubts and you will see wonders! Relinquish your doubts about the people of Allah. Believe them and believe in them without asking “why” and “how,” so they will accept you in their company, admit you to their service, and give you a share of what has been sent down to them. Favors and graces come down from the heaven on the hearts of the truthful, and the rewards of the innermost beings come down on their innermost beings, by night and day. If you wish them to accept you for their service you must purify your outward and inward. Be at the ready before them. Purify your heart of any heretical innovation, for the doctrine of the people of Allah is the doctrine of the prophets, the messengers, and the truthful (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them). They follow in the footsteps of the righteous predecessors. Their creed is the creed of the elderly. They do not lay claim to anything unless they have evidence on it.
* Woe to you! You claim that your heart has attained to Allah when it is in fact fettered and burdened. It is imprisoned behind doors and locked gates. Go and pass off your counterfeit coins on someone else. If you come here to pass off your counterfeit coins on me, do not come, for you will only tire yourself, as I will not accept your counterfeit coins. But if you come so that I cast your gold and separate out from it the impurities, silver, and any covering layer, then come. Have you not known that the people of Allah are money changers, assay the gold coins of religion and distinguish between the good and the bad — between what belongs to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and what belongs to the creatures? The people of Allah are ambassadors, guides, physicians, experts, diligent workers, agents, and callers on people to their Lord (mighty and glorified is He).
O people, love your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and make His creatures recognize that He is worthy of all love! Love Him and guide the creatures to Him so that they join you in loving Him. Remind those who are forgetful of Him. Remind them of His favor to them so that they come to love Him. Allah (mighty and glorified is He) revealed to David (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) the following: “O David, make My creatures love Me!” He has foreknowledge of whom will love Him. He ordered David (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) to make His creatures love Him in order for that foreknowledge to become manifest. If you were inside a dark house, with a fire iron and a flint, and you rub the two together, would not that generate fire? The fire that was in the fire iron is old but the act of rubbing made it appear. Similarly, the duties imposed by the Creator reveal and unveil the foreknowledge about the creatures. The commandments and prohibitions differentiate between the obedient servant and the disobedient one. They distinguish between the good debtor who pays his dues and the bad debtor who defaults.
The people of the innermost being were few in ancient times, and today they are the fewest of the few. The believer loves Allah (mighty and glorified is He) even if He tests him with afflictions; reduces his share of food, drink, clothing, social prestige, and well‑being; and drives creatures away from him. He does not run away from His door but rather sleeps at it, taking its doorstep as a pillow; and he does not feel alienated from Him. He does not object to Him should He give favors to others and deprive him. If He grants him favors, he offers thanks to Him, and if He withholds things from him, he endures that with patience. His aim is not to receive favors, but his goal is to see Him, come near to Him, and enter into His presence.
* O you who waste your time in your houses and cells in the company of the lower self, natural inclination (ṭab‘), passion, and little knowledge! You have to accompany practicing knowledgeable shaikhs. Obey them and follow in their footsteps. Show humility to them and be patient with their humiliation of your lower selves until your passions have disappeared, your lower selves have been subjugated, and the fire of your natural inclination has been put out. Only then will you come to know this world and so you will avoid it. It will become your maidservant and it will give you what it has been ordered to give you, which are your allotted worldly shares. It will then bring your shares to you while you are at the door of your nearness to your Lord (mighty and glorified is He). It and the hereafter are both maidservants for the person who serves the True One (mighty and glorified is He).
* This business cannot be done by merely sitting in retreats in the company of ignorance. Woe to you! Walk in search of Knowledge and practicing knowledgeable scholars until no further walking can be done. Keep walking until your legs no longer obey you. So, when you become unable to walk, sit down with your outward, then with your inward, then with your heart, and then with your essence. When you become totally exhausted outwardly and inwardly and have to sit, nearness to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and attainment to Him will come to you. If the footsteps of your heart come to a halt and you lose all your energy in your way to Him, that will be a sign of your nearness to Him. At that point, surrender and throw yourself prostrate. Then, He will either build a cell for you in the wilderness and lodge you in the ruins, or return you to society and order this world, the hereafter, jinn, people, angels, and spirits to be at your service.
* It is being said to you: “Only if you listen and put into practice what you hear!” How often you attend these sessions with passion, disobedience, and objection! Your attendance is a falsehood with no truth, punishment with no reward, evil with no good. Repent and stop attending in this manner. Attend with the intention of deriving benefits and then you will benefit. I hope and pray that Allah (mighty and glorified is He) will benefit you through me and amend your hearts, intentions, and aims. I do not lose hope of you, in compliance with His words: “Allah may bring after that something new to pass” (from 65.1). You will wake up: “And you will know its tidings after a while” (38.88).
O Allah! Grant us the wakefulness of the vigilant. Treat us like You treated them. Let us enter their spiritual states with forgiveness, good health, and permanent well‑being in religion in this world and the hereafter. O Allah, grant us Your nearness with forgiveness and well‑being. Grant us the goodness of today and the goodness of every day! Grant us the goodness of those who are present and the goodness of those who are absent. Drive away from us the evil of the present and the absentees. Grant us the goodness of the sultans whom you put in charge of Your land and guard us against their evil. Guard us against the evil of the wicked, the scheming of the disbelievers, the evil of all of your servants and lands, and the evil of every crawling creature You grasp “by the forelock. Certainly, My Lord is on a straight Path” (from 11.56). Give the disobedient persons to the obedient ones, the ignorant persons to the knowers, the absentees from Your presence to those who are in Your presence, the idle ones to those who have put their knowledge into practice, and those who have gone astray to the guided ones. Amen.
* O young man, what is yours will not go past you or be consumed by others. What is others’ will not come to you by wishing for it and being keen on obtaining it. There is only yesterday that has already past, today that you are in, and tomorrow that is yet to come. Yesterday of yours is a lesson for you, today of yours is your current state, and tomorrow that is yet to come you may or may not witness. You do not know what your name will be tomorrow.
You will remember what I am saying and regret. Woe to you! You trade being in my presence for earning a grain or two! What cuts you off from me is your ignorance of what I am involved in and what I teach. You are ignorant of its root and branch. You are ignorant of its stream, mountain, and source. If you have known and understood what I do and say you would not have left me. You will remember after a while the advice that I am giving you. You will see after death the aftermath that I am talking about: “So you shall remember what I say to you, and I entrust my affair to Allah” (from 40.44). Say: “There is no might or strength but by Allah, the High, the Great (lā ḥawla wa lā quwwata illā billāhi al‑‘Aliy al‑‘Adhīm)”.
* Learn from me, O ignorant ones! Follow me for I guide you to the way of righteousness. Woe to you! You claim that you seek obedience to me, yet you hide your wealth from me! You have lied in your claim. The seeker has no shirt, turban, gold, or wealth in addition to his shaikh. He eats from his shaikh’s plate what he orders him to eat, while he is in a state of extinction, waiting for the commandments and prohibitions of his shaikh. He knows that this has benefits from Allah (mighty and glorified is He) for him and is a tightening of His ropes. If you harbor doubts about your shaikh, you better leave his company, for in this case accompanying him and obeying him would bring no benefit to you. If the patient develops doubts about his physician, he cannot be cured by his medicine.
* Accompany the people of Allah, for one of their attributes is that if they look at a person and direct to him their spiritual influence they love him, even if the person they looked at was a Jew, Christian, or fire‑worshipper. And if he was a Muslim, his faith, certitude, and steadfastness will increase. If he was in a different state, Allah will expand his breast to Islam.
O you who are forgetful of the True One (mighty and glorified is He), it is piety and righteous works that draw you near to Him! The disbelievers used to draw close to the sultans and kings by means of their wealth and sons, and they used to say: “If on the Day of Resurrection Allah (mighty and glorified is He) wishes us to draw near to Him by means of our property and sons we will do,” so Allah (mighty and glorified is He) revealed: “It is not your wealth or your children that bring you near to Us, but [our nearness is for] those who believe and do righteous deeds — these will have a double reward for what they did, and they shall be safe in the chambers” (34.37). If you draw near to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) by means of your property while you are still in this world, this will be beneficial to you. If you teach your children how to write, how to read the Qur’an, and how to worship with the intention of drawing near to Allah (mighty and glorified is He), you will benefit from this. You will get the rewards for this after your death. I am telling you that all that you are involved in will bring you no benefit. It is faith, righteous deeds, truthfulness, and belief that are beneficial.
The believer who has become a knower (may Allah be satisfied with him) keeps on pleasing the Messenger (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) by working with him until his heart asks for the permission to enter into the presence of his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). He will be like a servant before him, and after he has served him for a long time, he will say to him: “O Master, show me the King’s door. Make me do business with Him. Put me in a position where I can see Him. Let me hold with my hand the ring of the door of His nearness.” He will then take him along with him and bring him near to the door. Then it will be said to him: “O Muhammad (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him), who is the person with you, O ambassador, O guide, O teacher?” To this he will reply: “You already know, a young bird that I have brought up and accepted for Your service.” Then he will say to his (the servant’s) heart: “Here you are with your Lord,” as Gabriel (peace be on him) said to him when he flew him to heaven and he drew near his Lord (mighty and glorified is He): “Here you are with your Lord.”
1 The Arabic word sunna generally means “way” or “method.” Usually written in English with a capital S, the term Sunna refers specifically to the way of life of Prophet Muhammad (prayer and peace be upon him), including his sayings and doings.
2 The dhāhir (outward) refers to the body, appearance, and visible actions. The bāṭin(inward) denotes inner feelings, thoughts …etc.