Mar 112008
 

This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)

* O you who associate His means with Him! If you have experienced eating by mere trust you will not deify the means and you will sit at His door full of trust, having total confidence in Him. There are only two ways to make a living: by working while adhering to the requirements of the Law or through trust. Woe to you! Do you not feel ashamed before Allah (mighty and glorified is He) that you have given up making a living through work to beg from people? Making a living through work is the beginning and trust is the end. I do not see a beginning or an end for you. I tell you the truth and I do not feel embarrassed to face you. Listen, accept [what I tell you], and do not dispute. To dispute with me is to dispute with the True One (mighty and glorified is He) Himself. Keep up prayer for it is a link between you and your Lord (mighty and glorified is He).

* O young man, when there is an opportunity for action on something you have been commanded to do, be as brave and active as a lion in executing it; when there is an opportunity to do one of the prohibitions, be as inactive as a sick man to avoid it; and when tribulations and decrees of destiny come your way, forget yourself and be calm. The Commander of the Believers (Āmīr al‑Mu’minīn) ‘Alī bin abī Ṭālib (may Allah be satisfied with him and ennoble his face) has said: “Be as passive as a dead person in relation to whatever brings benefits to you and prevents evil from you.”

The lover hears and sees in relation to the True One (mighty and glorified is He), but he is blind and deaf in relation to the creatures. The longing has taken over his five senses. His body is with the creatures but his essence is with the Creator. His feet are on the earth but his aspiration is up in heaven. His cares are kept hidden in his heart. Therefore, the creatures do not perceive this. They see his feet but they cannot see his aspiration and cares for they are in the safe of the heart which is the safe of the True One (mighty and glorified is He). Where do you stand with respect to this, O liar? You are busy with your property, children, social prestige, and association of creatures and means with God. How can you then claim to be near to the True One (mighty and glorified is He)? Telling lies is a form of wrongdoing, because the reality of wrongdoing is to leave something in the wrong place. Repent from your telling lies before its evil consequences catch up with you.

* O you whose hearts are dead, why do you sit here in my presence? O servants of this world and the sultans, O servants of the wealthy, O servants of the rise and fall of market prices! If the price of a grain of wheat becomes as high as one gold coin I would not care. The believer has no concern about his sustenance because of the strength of his certitude and his trust in his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). Do not count yourself among the believers. Put yourself in a different class. Glory be to Him who has made me stand among you!

* Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has already allotted the worldly shares. He would not increase or decrease them by a single atom. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has completed the creation, the assignment of subsistence, and the appointment of the times of things. The Pen with which He wrote down everything that is to happen until the Day of Resurrection has already run dry.” Do not devote energy to obtaining what has already been decided to be yours, for that sort of effort is utter messing about and foolishness. Allah has planned all your circumstances and has appointed for them specific dates. As long as the lower self has not been made calm by striving, it would not believe in this and would not relinquish its greedy keenness and persistence on obtaining things. Before it reaches a state of calmness, the lower self can believe in this only verbally.

Be sensible, and acquire good manners by putting my teachings into practice. Do not devote energy to getting what is predestined, already done, inevitable, and bound to come to you at the time assigned to it in the foreknowledge of Allah (mighty and glorified is He). The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “Even if the servant says: ‘O Allah! Do not provide for me’, Allah will provide for him despite his wish.” What you earn in return for your work is from Allah (mighty and glorified is He); even earning a single broad bean is from Allah (mighty and glorified is He). The creatures have nothing to do with it.

* O young man, religion in the sight of Allah is Islam, and the reality of Islam is surrender! You have to reach the state of Islam first and then fulfill surrender. Purify your outwards by Islam and purify your inwards by surrender.

Surrender yourselves to your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and be satisfied with His management of your affairs. Give up your will and accept the destiny that your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) has decreed. Accept all of what destiny brings. Your Lord knows you better than you know yourselves. Accept His words with certitude. Receive His commandments and prohibitions with total acceptance. Receive His religion with all of your hearts, and make it your inner and outer covers. Take full advantage of your lives before your death, before the advent of a “Day from Allah that cannot be turned back” (from 30.43), which is the Day of Resurrection.

* Woe to you! Do not be an idiot, disputing with Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and arguing with Him with your foolishness and ignorance. Otherwise, you will put at peril your capital, which is your religion. Close your eyes, reflect, behave with good manners, know who you are, know your status, and be humble inside. You are a servant, and the servant and all his property are owned by his master. He does not have the right to do with himself as he wishes. The servant must give up his own wishes in favor of his master’s, his choice in favor of the choice of his master, and his opinion in favor of his master’s.

You behave with impudence with Allah (mighty and glorified is He) for the sake of your own benefit, whereas the people of Allah behave impudently with their Lord only for the sake of the creatures. They appeal to Him on behalf of the creatures and persistently repeat their appeal for their sake. They are those who have already bidden farewell to the creatures and purified their hearts from the creatures so that not a single atom of the creation is left in them. They exist with Him, by Him, and for Him. They are in total relaxation with no tension, total honor with no humiliation, total receiving with no deprivation, total fulfillment with no withholding, total acceptance with no rejection, total happiness with no sorrow, capability with no powerlessness, strength with no weakness, and favor with no anger. They have been vested with clothing of nobility and He handed to the hands of their hearts the authority of delegating power, enabling, and acting with “‘be,’ and it is” (from 2.117) (takwīn).1 The power to act with “be,’ and it is” has become in their hands an inexhaustible treasure and a river that never runs dry. Whenever they become afraid, He increases their sense of security. Whenever they fall behind, He puts them at the front. Their words are heard, and their intercession [on behalf of others] is accepted. He made over to them the kingdom of this world and the hereafter in a way that is incomprehensible to the creatures. They are called “great” in the heavenly kingdom.

* The believer in the oneness of God does not listen to the sultan or Satan. He has turned away from them, existing by his heart in the presence of Allah. He sees the True One’s (mighty and glorified is He) actions of management of him and His creatures. He sees how the leaves of the door of the divine decree and destiny are opened and closed. He sees the creatures as totally powerless, weak, ill, poor, humiliated, and mortal. He has no friend and no foe; no one to offer a prayer of supplication for and no one to curse. If his Lord (mighty and glorified is He) wishes him to curse someone, he does, and if He wishes him to offer a prayer of supplication for someone, he does. He behaves according to the commandments and prohibitions. His heart has joined the angels whom Allah (mighty and glorified is He) described as follows: “They do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, and they do as they are commanded” (from 66.6). He speaks as the limbs and senses will speak on the Day of Resurrection. When the limbs and senses are blamed by one of those people whom they spoke against, they will answer: “Allah who has made everything speak has made us speak” (from 41.21). The servant who attains to this spiritual station becomes extinct in relation to himself, existing only with respect to his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). O Allah, correct our prayer of supplication to you and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”

* O people, ensure that your children and your family members acquire good manners! Instruct them to worship Allah (mighty and glorified is He), be in ultimate politeness with Him, and be satisfied with Him. Your concern about earning your living must not reach your hearts, but it must be restricted to your effort and work. I can see that most of you have relinquished the education of their children and have become mainly concerned with earning their living. Reverse your actions in order to succeed. 

Footnotes

1 The term takwīn refers to the ability to act with the divine power of ‘be,’ and it is” which God confers on the elite believers, as stated in the following saying of God: “O My servant! Obey Me and then you will be like Me: you will say for anything: ‘Be,’ and it is”. The meaning of the Qur’anic term ‘be,’ and it is” is made clear in the following verse: “We only say to something We wish: ‘Be,’ and it is[16.40].

     

Copyright © 2008 Shetha Al-Dargazelli & Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Mar 112008
 

This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)

* O young man, I am not interested in my speech, you, or the goods, wealth, and presents that you keep in your houses. As long as I remain so, you will benefit from my words, Allah willing. As long as the eye of the speaker is on your turbans, clothes, and pockets, you will not derive any benefit from what he has to say. As long as he frequents the place of the smoke of your cooking and has greedy desires about you, you will not benefit from his words. His speech will be a shell that has no kernel, a bone that has no meat on it, a bitterness with no sweetness, an appearance with no essence. The speech of the covetous person is never free of flattery, and his flattery prevents him from disagreeing with you. The words of the greedy person are as empty as the Arabic word ṭama‘(covetousness) itself, because the three letters of the word ṭama‘are all empty and hollow (the way they are written in Arabic): The ṭā’, mīm, and ‘ayn.

* The ascetic has no hands with which he takes the money of people.

* The reality of renunciation is giving up this world and giving up the hereafter; giving up all lustful desires and pleasures; giving up one’s very existence; giving up seeking spiritual states, rankings, miracles, and spiritual stations, and giving up everything other than the Lord of the creatures so that no one remains other than the Creator (mighty and glorified is He). He is the final destination and He is the ultimate object of all hopes. To Him all affairs belong.

* Renunciation is a source of comfort for the hearts of the obedient ones, the ascetics. The burden of renunciation rests on the body, the burden of knowingness on the heart, and the burden of nearness on the innermost being. Practice renunciation, be content, offer thanks, be satisfied with your Lord (mighty and glorified is He), and do not be satisfied with yourself. Think well of others, give up holding a poor opinion of others, and do not hold yourself in high esteem.

* When you renounce this world and your asceticism becomes true, this world will appear to you in your dreams in the form of a woman who pays homage to you, saying: “I am a maidservant for you; I have trusts for you, so take them.” She will count for you your allotted shares, whether few or many. When your knowingness has strengthened, she will come to you in wakefulness. The first spiritual state of the prophets (prayer and peace be on them) is inspiration and the second is a visionary dream. When their spiritual states have strengthened, the angel comes to them in wakefulness and says: “The True One (mighty and glorified is He) says to you this and that.”

* When someone has genuinely renounced the creatures, they become genuinely interested in him and benefit from listening to his words and looking at him. When the heart’s renunciation of the creatures and the innermost being’s renunciation of anything other than Allah (mighty and glorified is He), apart from His nearness, have become genuine, nearness becomes his close companion in this world and his entertainer in the hereafter.

* Be sensible, I can see that you do not have hearts or knowledge of the heart. Woe to you! You claim to be an ascetic and put on clothes of ascetics, yet you go knocking at the doors of the kings and the rich, who are the sons of this world, and then return! Your lower self seeks this world and wishes for what those people have. Surely you must have known that the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “Whoever hovers around a prohibited area is very likely to end up encroaching on it.” Preoccupation with the affairs of this world obstructs the way of the servants of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), enchants them, and drives them out of their senses. This applies to everyone except those whom Allah (mighty and glorified is He) wills to exclude. These are a few individuals. Allah (mighty and glorified is He) looks after their hearts and deeds and protects them in both their public and private lives. He purifies their food, drink, and clothing by the hand of power. The people of Allah have put into practice what the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) brought with him, so the Master (mighty and glorified is He) took care of them and loved them.

* Woe to you! It is the heart that practices renunciation not the body. O you who are ascetic only outwardly, your renunciation is thrown back at you! You have hidden your turban and shirt, buried your gold in the ground, put on austere woolen clothes, and collected leftovers. May Allah cut off your skin and head if you do not repent. You have opened your shop to sell hypocrisy. May Allah demolish your shop on top of you and kill you under its ruins if you do not destroy it, repent, and cut your waistband (zunnār).1

Woe to you! The believer has renunciation in his heart and nearness to his Lord (mighty and glorified is He) in his innermost being. This world and the hereafter have both come to his door, inside his treasury, not inside his heart. His heart is empty of anything other than his Master. How can it take in others when it is already filled with Him, His remembrance, and His nearness? His heart is empty and broken on his Master’s account, so no doubt He dwells in it. Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has said in one of His utterances: “I am with those whose hearts are broken on My account.” Their lower selves have broken by giving up this world and their hearts have broken on account of their Master. Once this break has taken place, He will come to them and set it. The Physician will come and treat them. This is the true bliss, not the bliss of this world and the hereafter.

* You have to practice pious restraint so that the hand of your heart is never without it. If you give it up then you will be disappointed. When someone gives up the practice of pious restraint, his heart darkens with legally dubious things and impurities. Woe to you! You claim that you are pious yet you do not practice pious restraint! The practicing person abandons many things in fear of falling in prohibited and dubious things, and Allah punishes him on the basis of the lowest allowed concessions.

One day I passed through a village surrounded by fields of corn. I stretched out my hand and picked a corn cane to suck. At that point, two men from the village, each of them holding a stick, came and beat me up until I collapsed to the ground. So I gave a pledge to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) at that moment not to take advantage again of the allowed concessions or avail myself of what is not mine. The Law has allowed the person who passes by fields of cereals and fruit trees to eat as much as he needs without paying anything in return, but it prohibited him from taking away anything. This is a general concession. However, I was not allowed to take advantage of this concession and I was ordered to adhere to the strictest laws. As the person increasingly remembers death, his pious restraint increases, the concessions that are allowed to him decrease, and his adherence to the strictest laws increases.

* Open the eye of your lower self and say to it: “Look at your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and see how He looks at you. Look how He has destroyed the kings and the rich who lived before you. Remember the deaths of those of bygone times who owned the world and enjoyed its pleasures before it was snatched away from their hands and they were snatched away from it. They are now imprisoned in the jail of torment. Their palaces are deserted, their houses are in ruins, their property is gone, and their deeds have stayed. The lustful desires have gone and their bad consequences have remained.”

Do not rejoice, for this is not the time of rejoicing. Do not be impressed by the beauty of your wife’s face, by your son, by your house, and by the size of your wealth. Do not rejoice in what the preceding prophets, the messengers, and the righteous (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them) did not rejoice in. Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has said: “Allah does not love those who are recklessly happy” (from 28.76) with this world and its people and with other than Him. He loves those who rejoice in Him (mighty and glorified is He) and in His nearness.

The thinking and the reflection of the people of Allah are focused on the affairs of the hereafter not on lustful desires, pleasures, and entertainments. O you who are under an illusion, you have not done what He wants you to do! O forgetful ones, in the hereafter there is a severe torment for those who do not obey Allah (mighty and glorified is He)!

Footnotes

1 A belt that Christians used to wear.

     

Copyright © 2008 Shetha Al-Dargazelli & Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Mar 112008
 

This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)

* There is no one on the face of the earth whom I fear or pin my hopes on, be it one of the jinn, human beings, animals, insects, or any other creature. I am not afraid of anyone other than Allah (mighty and glorified is He). The more that He allays my fear the more it grows, for He is “One who certainly works His will” (from 11.107) and “He shall not be questioned as to what He does, but they shall be questioned” (21.23).

* The believer remains in fear until his innermost being is granted the book of safety. He conceals it from his heart and never reveals it to it. This happens to a few individuals only.

* The pious are those who are pious to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) in their public and private lives and watch Him under all circumstances. Their hearts shiver in fear of Him by night and day. They are afraid that tribulations might attack them during the night and cut them off from Him and, with them failing to be patient, they would turn to disbelief. They are afraid that the Angel of Death (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) might come to them while they are doing evil deeds. “They do what they do while their hearts are full of fear” (from 23.60), afraid of being rejected, afraid of the foreknowledge of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) about them.

Al‑Fudhayl bin ‘Iyādh (may Allah show mercy to him) used to say to Sufyān Ath‑Thawrī (may Allah show mercy to him) whenever he met him: “Let’s weep over the foreknowledge of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) about us.” How excellent these words are! They are the words of someone who is a knower of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and who is knowledgeable of Him and of His management. As for the “foreknowledge of Allah (mighty and glorified is He)” that bin ‘Iyādh referred to when saying “weep over the foreknowledge of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) about us,” it is His following saying: “These are to go to Paradise and I do not care, and these are to go to the Fire and I do not care.” He mixed them all in one place so one cannot know to which of the two groups he belongs. They did not become conceited because of what became visible of their deeds, because all deeds are assessed according to their final outcome.

The pious are those who give up the acts of disobedience and sins, both the apparent and hidden ones, dissimulation, hypocrisy, and working for the sake of the creatures and worldly purposes. Therefore, today they are in the paradise of obedience and tomorrow they will be in the midst of gardens and springs, sitting among trees that never fade, fruits that never run out, and rivers that never run dry. How could the water dry up when it springs from beneath the Throne? For everyone of them there is a river of water, a river of yogurt, a river of honey, and a river of wine. These rivers will be with them wherever they go, without a cleft in the ground. Everything in this world has an equivalent in the hereafter and more. Everything in Paradise has its prototype in this world. “They receive what their Lord gives them” (from 51.16) (mighty and glorified is He) of bliss that no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and has never occurred to any human being. “Whose fruits are nigh to cull” (69.23). When one of them reclines on his couch, the fruits come to his mouth and he eats them while resting. The roots of the trees are upward whereas their fruits are downward. Their roots are silver and their branches are gold. When it occurs to one of them to eat some of the fruits, they advance to his mouth, so he picks what he likes and then they return to their places. Everything in Paradise sings for the people of Paradise and entertains them. Their speech is lovely and in the finest sound. This is true even of its rivers, trees, and everything there.

O seekers of this world, this world is ephemeral and tiring! Seek the everlasting Paradise, which is the place of comfort, the place of bliss, and the place of thankfulness. In Paradise there is no ablution, no prayer, no pilgrimage, no obligatory alms‑giving, no tribulations to be endured with patience, no illnesses, no chronic diseases, no poverty, and no fear of departure. O people, soon death will call on you and snatch you away! You will be as if you had not been created or seen! Turn your hearts away from your families, children, and property. Renounce all the creatures of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and do not rely on anyone of them in trivial or important matters. O Allah, grant us trust in You under all circumstances and awareness of the powerlessness of anyone other than You, and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”

* Give up your wish in favor of His, your preference in favor of His, your decision in favor of His, and your will in favor of His. He is “One who certainly works His will” (from 11.107). “He shall not be questioned as to what He does, but they shall be questioned” (21.23). His company is like the company of lions and snakes, which is why the people of Allah are standing in His presence on the feet of fearfulness and caution. Neither their night is an ordinary night nor is their day an ordinary day. Their eating is like that of the ill, their sleep is like the sleep of those who are drowning, and their speech is out of necessity. The patient feels satisfied with very little of food. He eats while being afraid of his food, unable to tell whether it is good for him or not. The drowning person slumbers only when sleep is irresistible, just to be awakened by the waves of the sea of power, the sea of “One who certainly works His will” not what they will. They are scared of being drowned by the waves and Him sending some animals to eat them. They wish that the waves would throw them ashore and allow them into the palace of His nearness, private conversation, and sightings.

* O young man, the people of Allah have given up everything other than working [for Him], saying that everything else is mere nonsense and a shell. They have sought the kernel, clenched to it, and renounced the shell. They have sought the help of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) in their quest for what is indispensable. The True One (mighty and glorified is He) is indispensable, whereas everything else can be dispensed with. So when He saw and recognized their truthfulness in their quest, He granted them amnesty, well‑being, and His nearness: “There, authority is Allah’s, the True One” (from 18.44).

Every heart that has no fear is like a town without trees or sheep without a shepherd. Such a town is nothing but ruins and such sheep are doomed to become food for the wolves. When a person is afraid, he keeps wandering throughout the night. He cannot settle in one place so he is always on the move. The destination of the travel of the people of Allah is the abode of the True One (mighty and glorified is He).

     

Copyright © 2008 Shetha Al-Dargazelli & Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Mar 112008
 

This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)

* Endure with patience the harm of the creatures and neighbors, for there is much good in patience. All of you are commanded to show patience and are responsible for yourselves and your flock. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “Each one of you is a shepherd and responsible for his flock.” Be patient with destiny until suffering transforms into bliss. Patience is the foundation of good. The angels were tested with afflictions and they endured them with patience, and the prophets were tested with afflictions and they endured them with patience. You are following in the footsteps of the people of Allah, so emulate their deeds and endure the afflictions with patience.

When the heart has become sound, it will not care anymore for one who disagrees with it and one who agrees with it, one who praises it and one who dispraises it, one who gives it and one who deprives it, one who draws it near and one who keeps it at a distance, one who accepts it and one who rejects it. The sound heart becomes filled with belief in the oneness of God, trust, certitude, faith, and nearness to Allah (mighty and glorified is He). It sees all creatures in light of their powerlessness, humiliation; and poverty, but it does not show arrogance even to the young child. It becomes like a lion at the time of meeting the disbelievers, hypocrites, and disobedient ones — because of its zeal for Allah (high is He); and it shows humility and homage toward the righteous, the pious, those who practice pious restraint. Allah has described the people who have these attributes saying: “Hard against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves” (from 48.29). When the servant becomes like this, he becomes beyond the comprehension of the creatures, outside their domain of control, victorious, and a manifestation of those described in the following words of Allah (mighty and glorified is He): “And He creates what you do not know” (from 16.8). All of this is the fruit of the belief in the oneness of God, sincerity, and patience.

When our Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) endured what came his way with patience, he was raised up to the seventh heaven, where he saw his Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and drew near to Him. This edifice was erected for him after he firmly laid the foundations of patience. All good things are obtainable by patience, which is why Allah (mighty and glorified is He) mentioned it and stressed its importance as the best Speaker said: “O you who believe, be patient, urge each other to be patient, remain steadfast, and be pious to Allah so that you may succeed!” (3.200). O Allah, make us among those who are patient, perfectly following them in word and work, in our private and public lives, in appearance and in essence, in all of our states, and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”

* Endure with patience the rulings of the Law so that Knowledge will be unveiled to you. The True One (mighty and glorified is He) has commanded you to be patient, so be patient. He ordered His Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) in particular and you in general to be patient. The command is for him and for you also. He (high is He) has said: “Then be patient [O Muhammad!] as the messengers of determination were also patient” (from 46.35). [He meant:] “Be patient with Me, O Muhammad, as they were patient with Me and endured My decrees and My destiny about their families, property, and children, as well as the harm that the creatures caused them.” They confronted all that with endurance, but how little endurance you have! I do not see among you anyone who would bear a word from his mate or excuse him. Learn from the Messenger (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) his good manners and deeds in the outset so that comfort will come to you in the end.

* Woe to you! Remember the hunger of the starving, the nakedness of the naked, the illness of the ill, and the imprisonment of the prisoners and then you will find that your affliction has become easier to bear. Remember the terrifying ordeal of the dead on the Day of Resurrection. Remember the foreknowledge of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) about you, His caring for you, and His foreordination for you and then you will feel a sense of shame in His presence. If you find yourself in anguish, remember your sins, repent from them and say to your lower self: “It is because of your sins the True One (mighty and glorified is He) has distressed you.” If you repent from your sins and be pious to the True One (mighty and glorified is He), He will provide for you an outlet from every grief and an exit from every distress. Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has said: “And whoever is pious to Allah He will appoint for him a way out, and He will provide for him from whence he did not expect. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him. Allah will attain His purpose” (from 65.2‑3).

The sensible person is one who is truthful and is distinguishable from the liars by his truthfulness. Adhere to truthfulness instead of telling lies, steadfastness instead of running away, advancing instead of backsliding, patience instead of impatience, thankfulness instead of ingratitude, satisfaction instead of dissatisfaction, compliance instead of disputation, and certitude instead of suspicion. If you comply and do not dispute, thank and do not show ungratefulness, be satisfied and do not be discontent, and be calm and do not have doubts then: “Is Allah not sufficient for His servant?” (from 39.36).

* O you who are poor, endure your poverty with patience and then affluence will come to you in this world and the hereafter. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “The poor who endure their poverty with patience are the companions of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) on the Day of Resurrection.” Those who bear their poverty with patience are the companions of Allah, today [in this world] by their hearts and tomorrow [on the Day of Resurrection] by their bodies. As for those who are in need of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) only, who accompany Him with patience, and who are indifferent to anything other than Him, their hearts are reassured, attracted [to Him], and do not accept anyone other than Him. The case is similar to what Allah (mighty and glorified is He) said about Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him): “And We had caused him to refuse the wet‑nurses” (from 28.12).

* There is no believer who will not, at the moment of death, have the veil removed from his eyes so that he can see what is his in Paradise. The houris and young servants will wave to him and fragrances from Paradise will reach him, so death and its stupor taste good to him. The True One (mighty and glorified is He) will do to him as He did to Pharaoh’s wife Āsyā (may Allah show mercy to her). Pharaoh subjected her to all kinds of torture before thrusting iron spikes into her hands and feet. The veil was then removed from her eyes and the doors of heaven were opened wide for her so she saw Paradise and its contents. She saw the angels building a house in Paradise, so she said: “My Lord, build for me a house in Paradise in Your presence!” (from 66.11). She was told: “This is yours,” so she laughed. Pharaoh said: “Have not I told you that she is crazy? Do not you see how she laughs in the midst of torture?” The same happens to the believers who see at the moment of death what they have with Allah (mighty and glorified is He). Some of them come to know this before death; they are those who are brought near, singled out, and wanted.

* Woe to you! How can you tell others to endure with patience when you are impatient? How can you tell him to give thanks in return for the favors when you have given up thankfulness? How can you tell him to be satisfied with the divine decree when you are dissatisfied? How can you tell him to renounce this world when you are full of desires about it? How can you tell him to yearn for the hereafter when you have renounced it? How can you tell him to trust Allah (mighty and glorified is He) when you have relied on other than Him? You are hated by the True One (mighty and glorified is He), the angels, and the hearts of the truthful and the righteous of His servants. You must have heard this poetry by one of them:

Do not advise people to avoid a certain action only for you to commit it.
This would be a great shame on you.1

You are filled with concerns with the creatures and filled with hypocrisy so no doubt you weigh lighter than the wing of a mosquito in the sight of Allah. You are with the hypocrites in the lowest level of the Fire.

* The truthful person offers thanks for the favors he receives, endures with patience the punishments, carries out the commandments, and keeps away from the prohibitions. This is how the hearts are developed. Offering thanks for receiving favors increases them, and enduring with patience the punishments removes and mitigates them. Endure with patience the death of your children and other family members, the loss of property, being dishonored, the failure of worldly interests, and the harm caused by the creatures and then you will receive a great deal of good. When you thank for being in easy circumstances and show patience in hard times, the wing of your faith will become fully fledged and strengthen and your heart and innermost being will fly to the door of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He).

How can you lay claim to faith when you have no patience? Have you not heard this saying of the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him): “Patience to faith is like the head to the body”? If you do not have patience, then your faith is without a head, so its body is worthless. If you know the One who sends the affliction, you will bear His affliction. If you know this world, you will not fall into disobedience by seeking it. O Allah, guide everyone who has gone astray, forgive every disobedient person, give patience to every afflicted person, and guide to thankfulness everyone who is free of afflictions. Amen.

* Be pious and be patient. The head of religion is patience and its body is action. This is why the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “Patience to faith is like the head to the body.” No action can be completed without having patience with the decree of Allah (mighty and glorified is He). Be patient, be steadfast, and practice pious restraint. Practice pious restraint both in your public and private lives, renounce the allotted worldly shares of others, and turn away from yours.

* O young man, when your standing at the door of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) has lasted long enough, your greed and desires will diminish and your politeness will increase. Patience removes the lustful desires. Patience eradicates the person’s habits, eliminates his reliance on means, and overthrows the false gods. You are under an illusion. You are ignorant of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), His messengers, His saints, and the elite of His creatures (Allah’s prayer and peace be on them). You lay claim to renunciation, yet you long for this world! Your renunciation has no foundations. How can you long for this world and to the creatures but do not yearn for your Lord (mighty and glorified is He)? Think well [of me] and cultivate good behavior so that I may guide you to the door of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He), show you the path to it, strip you of your clothes of arrogance, and vest you with clothing of humility.

Footnotes

1 The poet is Abū Al‑Aswad Ad‑Dū’lī (608‑688) who is credited with being the first one to write the Arabic grammar.

     

Copyright © 2008 Shetha Al-Dargazelli & Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Mar 112008
 

This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)

* O young man, you must work sincerely for Allah (mighty and glorified is He), in your prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, giving obligatory alms, and all of your deeds. Have a pledge with Him before your arrival to Him. This pledge is nothing less than sincerity, belief in the oneness of God, following the Sunna and the Islamic community, patience, thankfulness, entrusting Allah with your affairs, rejecting the creatures and seeking Him, and turning away from anything other than Him and advancing to Him with your heart and your innermost being. No doubt, He will give you in this world nearness to Him, longing for Him, and loving Him, and in the hereafter He will give you of His nearness and favors what no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and has never occurred to any human being.

* O sincere one, run away from the association of partners with Allah to the door of your Lord. Stop at it and do not escape when tribulations come. If you stood at His door and tribulations came to you from your rear, cling to the door, for they will be fended off from you by your belief in the oneness of God and the charisma of your truthfulness. When tribulations come to you, resort to patience and steadfastness and recite these words of Allah (mighty and glorified is He): “Allah confirms those who believe with the firm word in the life of this world and in the hereafter” (from 14.27); His (high is He) following utterance: “So Allah will suffice you against them; He is the Hearer, the Knower” (from 2.137); and His following words: “Is not Allah sufficient for His servant?” (from 39.36). Say frequently: “There is no might or strength but by Allah, the High, the Great” (lā ḥawla wa lā quwwata illā billāhi al‑‘Alīyī al‑‘Adhīm), and frequently ask for forgiveness and glorify the Lord. Remember the True One (mighty and glorified is He). By truthfulness you will be protected from the army of tribulations and the army of the lower self, passion, and Satan. How well I know you, and how little you know me!

He whom Allah guides is rightly guided” (from 18.17).And he whom Allah guides will have none to mislead him” (from 39.37). “He whom Allah sends astray there is no guide for him” (from 7.186). Our Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) used to love and wish that those who had gone astray would accept guidance, so Allah revealed this to him: “You do not guide whom you like but it is Allah who guides whom He wills” (from 28.56). So he (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) said: “I have been sent with guidance, but guidance is not under my control. And Satan tempts people, yet temptation is not under his control.”

The belief of the followers of the Book and the Sunna of the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is that the sword does not cut because of its nature, but it is rather Allah (mighty and glorified is He) who cuts with it; that the fire does not burn because of its nature, but it is rather Allah (mighty and glorified is He) who burns with it; that food does not satisfy hunger because of its nature, but it is rather Allah (mighty and glorified is He) who satisfies hunger with it; and that water does not quench thirst because of its nature, but it is rather Allah (mighty and glorified is He) who quenches thirst with it. The same applies to all things of all kinds; it is Allah (mighty and glorified is He) who uses them to produce their effects while they are only instruments in His hand with which He does whatever He wills. When Abraham the Intimate (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) was cast into the fire and the True One (mighty and glorified is He) wanted that the fire would not burn him, He made it “coolness and safety” (from 21.69) to him. It is rightly reported that the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “On the Day of Resurrection, the Fire will say: ‘Pass through, O believer, for your light has put out my flames’”! The slave may need to be beaten with the stick, whereas a sign is sufficient for the freeman to understand.

* O you who worship with an absent heart, your likeness is as the likeness of a donkey that has its eyes blindfolded while turning the mill! It thinks that it has walked many miles when in fact it has not left its place. Woe to you! You stand up and sit down in your prayer, and suffer hunger and thirst in your fasting, yet without having a single atom of sincerity and belief in the oneness of God; what benefit would you derive from this? What would you earn other than weariness? You pray and fast while the eye of your heart is on what other people have in their houses, in their pockets, and on their plates. You look at them in the hope that they may present you with gifts, you show them your worship acts, and let them know of your fast and strife.

O you who have made the creatures as partners to Allah, what you have are worthless! Turn back from your attribution of partners to Allah. O hypocrite, O dissimulator, O you who have turned away from the attributes of the truthful, spiritual, godly ones! Have you not realized that I scrutinize you, have authority over you, and ask you for evidence on your claims? The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “If the claims of people were to be accepted without evidence, some people would claim the blood and property of others. But the evidence must be provided by the claimant and the oath is required of the person who denies it.”

How much you talk and how little you act! Reverse your actions in order to succeed. When someone comes to know Allah (mighty and glorified is He), his tongue will stop moving, his heart will start to speak, his innermost being will become pure and serene, and his status will raise in His sight. He will feel intimacy and find comfort with Him and he will find Him sufficient for all his needs, to the exclusion of everyone else.

O fire of the hearts, be coolness and safety! O hearts, get ready for the day on which the mountains will be removed and the earth will be made to appear in full view. The real man is one who, on that day, will stand steadfast on the feet of his faith in his Lord, his trust in his Lord, his love for his Lord, and his longing for his Lord; on the feet of his knowingness of Him in this world before the hereafter. The mountains of the means and the creatures will be removed, whereas the mountains of the Creator of all means will remain in place. The mountains of the kings of the outward and the images will be removed and vanish, whereas the mountains of the kings of the inward will appear and stand firm. The Day of Resurrection is the day of change and replacement. These mountains at whose strength, hardness, and great size you marvel will become like carded wool and will be uprooted. Their hardness will vanish and they will be made to move faster than the clouds. The sky will become like “muhl” (from 70.8), which is molten copper. The nature of the earth and the sky will totally change. The bout of this world will be over — that is the bout of the Law, the bout of deeds, the bout of planting, the bout of duties. The bout of the hereafter will come — that is the bout of destiny, the bout of rewarding according to deeds, the bout of the harvest, the bout of rest from duties, the bout of giving every rightful owner what he has the right to, the bout of giving everyone who deserves favors his entitlement. O Allah, grant our hearts and our limbs and senses steadfastness on that day and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”

* You have to practice sincerity. Pray for the sake of Allah not for the sake of His creatures. Fast for the sake of Allah not for the sake of His creatures. Live in this world for His sake not for the sake of His creatures or for the sake of yourselves. When performing any act of obedience, be devoted to Allah not to His creatures.

You will not be able to perform righteous deeds with sincerity unless you practice the curtailment of hopes. You will be able to curtail hopes only by remembering death. You will not be able to remember death unless you see the ruined graves and reflect on their dwellers and what they were involved in. Sit at the destroyed graves and say to yourselves: “Those used to eat, drink, have sexual intercourse, dress up, and amass worldly things. What is their state of affairs now? What benefit would all of that bring them? They do not have with them other than whatever good deeds they did.”

There are among you, O people of this town, those who do not believe in the raising of the dead on the Day of Resurrection, adopting the doctrine of dahriyya,1 but they hide their belief in fear of being killed. I know a group of them, but I view you by the Law of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and conceal what I know about you for the sake of the Knowledge of Allah (mighty and glorified is He). I view you one by one but turn a blind eye to you. O Allah, draw a veil over our shortcomings, forgive us, and grant us guidance, sufficiency, and care! Amen.

Footnotes

1 The term dahriyya is derived from the Arabic word dahr which means “long period of time.” The dahriyya believe there is no Creator for this world and that it is the passage of time that causes people to die. Consequently, they do not believe in the Resurrection. This group of disbelievers is mentioned in the Qur’an: “And they say: ‘There is nothing but our life in this world; we die and live, and nothing destroys us but time.’ They merely conjecture” (45.24).

     

Copyright © 2008 Shetha Al-Dargazelli & Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Mar 112008
 

This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)

*O servants of Allah, be truthful and then you will succeed! The truthful person never backslides. The person who is truthful in his belief in the oneness of Allah (high is He) never backslides on the advice of his lower self, passion, or devil. The truthful person never listens to blame and never allows it to enter his ears. The person who is truthful in his love of Allah, His Messenger (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him), and His righteous servants never turns back as a result of listening to the words of someone who is hypocritical, hated, and disappointed. The truthful person does not know other than the truthful person and the liar does not know other than the liar. The aspiration of the truthful person is high in the sky. He cannot be harmed by anyone’s words. Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has full power over His affairs. If He wants you for a certain purpose, He prepares you for it.

* If the truthful person meets all creatures he would not like to look at anyone other than his Beloved. This world does not seem significant to the eyes of his head, the hereafter does not seem significant to the eyes of his heart, and nothing seems significant to the eyes of his innermost being other than the Master. The shouting of the hypocrite comes from his tongue and head, whereas the shouting of the truthful person springs from his heart and innermost being. His heart is at the door of his Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and his innermost being has entered into His presence. It keeps on shouting at the door until it enters the house.

* O liars, the truthful person never tells lies. The truthful person never turns back! The truthful person has no back. He is a front with no back, truthfulness with no telling of lies. He is words and action, claim and evidence. He never turns back from his Beloved because of arrows that come to him from Him, but he rather receives them with his breast. Your love for something blinds and deafens you. When one knows what he is seeking, he sees whatever he has to do to be as insignificant. The lover who is truthful in his love always plunges into dangers in the quest for his Beloved. If he faces an inferno, he throws himself right into it. He swoops at what others would not even dare approaching. It is his truthfulness that urges him to do this. It is his love and impatience with being distant from his Beloved that make behave like this. Afflictions reveal the truthful person and the liar and distinguish between them. How excellent this piece of poetry by one of them is:

It is at times of dissatisfaction not at times of satisfaction
that the lover becomes identifiable from the hater.1 

Footnotes

1 This poetry is by the Sufi shaikh ‘Ali Bin Wafā AshShādhilī (13591405).

     

Copyright © 2008 Shetha Al-Dargazelli & Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Mar 112008
 

This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)

* Woe to you! You want to get something in return for nothing? This will never happen to you. Pay the price of something and then take it. One who enjoys himself will never find ultimate happiness, whereas one who exerts efforts will find ultimate happiness. Endure with patience the care and sorrow of this world in order to experience the delight of the hereafter. Your Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) was in permanent sorrow and continuous reflection. He (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) was given to frequent worship though he had his faults forgiven — both past ones and those that he had yet to commit. He (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) used to reflect on the creatures, in one time, and on the Creator, in another. He (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) used to reflect on what will happen to his nation after him.

When Al‑Ḥasan Al‑Baṣrī (may Allah show mercy to him) would leave his house, he would look as if he had been dug out of his tomb, with sorrowfulness and sadness showing on his face. Sorrowfulness remains characteristic of the believer under all circumstances until he meets his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). The people of Allah adhere to a state of muteness until they are granted permission to speak to people. They and the righteous seekers are brought together to speak to them and about them and guide them to the One whom they seek, so they develop perfect speech. If their hearts incline toward the creatures, the hand of jealousy pulls in their reins. It closes the door until they apologize and repent. Once their repentance is confirmed, it reopens the door to them and brings their hearts near.

     

Copyright © 2008 Shetha Al-Dargazelli & Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Mar 112008
 

This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)

* Do not be dissatisfied with what destiny brings. No one can turn it back or prevent it from taking place. Everything will come to pass regardless of who is satisfied and who is not. Your involvement in this world requires the right intention, otherwise you will be hated. In all your affairs say: “There is no might or strength but by Allah, the High, the Great (lā ḥawla wa lā quwwata illā billāhi al‑‘Alīyī al‑‘Adhīm)”. Appoint one hour for this world, one hour for the hereafter, one hour for yourself, one hour for your family, and all of the remaining hours for your Lord.

* O poor ones, O you who are tested with afflictions, remember death and what is after it and then you will find that your poverty and afflictions have lost their importance to you and that detachment from this world has become easy! Accept this advice from me for I have experienced this path and have followed it. The people of Allah do not wish for anything apart from the face of Allah (mighty and glorified is He). They have given up sleep to stand in the presence of the Creator of sleep. “Their sides shun their beds” in their quest for His face and satisfaction. Their hearts have been detached from their property. The commandment of their Lord came to them, closed their shops, and made them live in the deserts and unpopulated areas, with no fixed place to settle in. Neither their night is an ordinary night nor is their day an ordinary one: “Their sides shun their beds.” Their hearts become like grains in a hot pan, trying to pop out and run away from it. Their hearts are grains on the frying pan of the reflection on the reckoning, interrogation, and trial [of the Day of Resurrection]. They are the sensible ones; the intelligent ones; the astute ones, ones who have known this world, its people, its schemes, its bewitching, its perfidy, and its slaughter of its sons. Their hearts were called upon, so their hearts shunned their beds. Their essences heard [the call] after their bodies. The birds heard [the call] as did the cages. They heard what the True One (mighty and glorified is He) revealed in one of His utterances: “The person who claims to love Me yet goes to sleep once the night has set is a liar.” They felt a sense of embarrassment and shame in this company so they stood in His presence in the darkness of the night, lining up their feet in His presence, and letting their tears run down their cheeks. They spoke to Him through their tears, entered into His presence with the feet of their hearts, and stood in front of Him on the feet of fear and hope: fear of rejection and hope for the safety of acceptance.

O people, serve the manifest Law! Act according to the Book of Allah and the Sunna of His Messenger (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him). Be sincere in your deeds and then look what you will see of His subtle favors, generosity, and the loveliness of His private conversation.

O deprived ones, O runaway slaves, O backsliders, come forward, O you escapers! Come back and do not run away from the arrows of tribulations for this is nothing other than a testing illusion. Stand firm and then you will be protected from their effect and evil. Stand steadfast for nothing that is destined for others will come your way. Their shield is the breasts of the truthful. You are not the kind of people who know how to treat them. They are not for you and you are not for them. You are peoplewhowatchthebattlefrom a distance, without taking part in it. You are thoughtless followers. You frequent the gatherings of common people, and anyone who frequents gatherings of common people is one of them.

* O You who have wishes, make every effort to come to have none! One of the people of Allah was once asked: “What do you long for?” He replied: “To long for nothing.” Everything depends on being satisfied with the divine decree, giving up the very act of wanting, and casting down the heart in the hands of its Transformer. O Allah, include us among the Muslims who have thrown themselves prostrate in the hand of Your destiny and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”

* How little your belief in the oneness of God is! How little your satisfaction with Allah (high is He) is! There is no home, except those excluded by Allah, in which disputation and dissatisfaction do not exist. How frequent you associate the means and creatures with God! You have taken this and that as gods instead of Allah (mighty and glorified is He). You consider them the source of harm and benefit, and giving and withholding. Do not do that. Return to your Lord (mighty and glorified is He). Empty your hearts for Him, supplicate to Him, and ask Him to provide for your needs. Turn to Him in all of your serious problems. You do not have another place [to turn to], you do not have another door [to knock at]. All doors are locked except His. Go to unpopulated places to be alone with Him and speak and talk to Him with the tongues of your faith. When the family of each of you has gone to sleep and the creatures’ voices have fallen silent, let him purify himself and place his forehead on the ground, draw near [to Allah], repent, apologize, confess his sins, beg for His favor, ask Him for his needs, and complain to Him about everything that is causing him grief. It is He your Lord (mighty and glorified is He), not someone else. It is He your God, not someone else. It is He your King, not someone else. Do not escape from Him because of the arrows of His tribulations. He has treated all your predecessors with affliction, adversity, hardship, and prosperity so that they may come to know Him, thank Him, be patient with Him, and repent to Him. Punishments are for the common people; expiations for the pious believers; and the spiritual degrees for the righteous, the certain, the seekers, the truthful.

     

Copyright © 2008 Shetha Al-Dargazelli & Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Mar 112008
 

This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)

* O you who have a noble pedigree! Forget about your pedigree and come here. The truly noble pedigree is that of piety. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) was asked: “Who are your family, O Muhammad?” He (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) replied: “Every pious person belongs to the lineage of Muhammad.”

Do not come to me on the feet of your pedigree but come to me on the feet of your piety. Be sensible, you will not get what Allah has by virtue of your ancestral pedigree, but only when you deserve the pedigree of piety. The Invincible One has said: “The noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most pious to Allah of you” (from 49.13).

     

Copyright © 2008 Shetha Al-Dargazelli & Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Mar 112008
 

This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)

* O young man, do not occupy yourself with washing the clothes of your body while leaving the clothes of your heart dirty! Wash the heart first and then wash the clothes. Combine both acts of washing, both acts of purification. Wash your clothes clean of dirt and wash your heart clean of sins. Do not be overconfident about anything, for your Lord is a “doer of what He wills.”

It has been reported that one of the righteous people once paid a visit to his brother in Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and said to him: “O my brother, let’s weep over the foreknowledge of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) about us!” How excellent the words of this righteous man are! He was a knower of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and had heard the following words of the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him): “One of you may act as the people of Paradise act until nothing remains between him and between it other than the distance of a cubit or a span, then the divine decree comes to pass and he acts as the people of the Fire do and therefore enters it. One of you may act as the people of the Fire act until nothing remains between him and between it other than the distance of a cubit or a span, then the divine decree comes to pass so he acts as the people of Paradise do and therefore enters it.”

O young man! The foreknowledge of Allah about you will be unveiled to you if you return to Him with all your heart and your aspiration; stay at the door of His mercy; build a barrier of iron between yourself and lustful desires; keep the grave and death under the eyes of your head and heart; be watchful of the gazes of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) at you, His foreknowledge about you, and His presence near you; feel content with poverty; be satisfied with bankruptcy; and be content with little while adhere to the limits of the Law, which means to abide by the commandments, observe the prohibitions, and endure with patience whatever destiny sends your way. If you keep to this you will meet your Lord and enter with your innermost being into His presence. At this point, things will be unveiled to you.

* The people of Allah doze off only out of necessity. Among them, there is one who deliberately puts himself to sleep for one hour in the night to be able to keep vigil for the rest of the night. He grants his lower self some of its needs so that it calms down and does not hurt him. One of the righteous people used to force himself to sleep some nights and prepare for sleep without real need for it. When he was asked about this practice he replied: “My heart sees my Lord (mighty and glorified is He)”. He has uttered the truth because the true dream is an inspiration from Allah (mighty and glorified is He). The delight of his eye was in his sleep.

As for the person who is brought near to Allah (mighty and glorified is He), there are angels dedicated to looking after him all the time. When he sleeps they sit at his head and feet to protect him from any danger that may come in front of him or behind him, while Satan stands away from him and does not dare to come near him. He sleeps under His protection, gets up under His protection, and moves and stops under the protection of Allah (high is He). O Allah, put us under Your protection in all circumstances and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”

* The believer draws satisfaction when his lower self is hurt and says to it: “I have advised you but you did not heed the advice. I have warned you of this, O ignorant one, O disbeliever, O enemy of Allah!” Anyone who does not call his lower self to account, put it to trial, and exhort it will not succeed. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “If the person does not act as a preacher to his lower self, no preacher’s advice will ever benefit him.” The person who seeks success must exhort his lower self, teach it renunciation, and strive against it. Renunciation means giving up what is prohibited, then giving up what is legally dubious, then giving up what is permissible, and then giving up what is absolutely lawful, under all circumstances, until nothing to be given up is left.

* Give up the lustful desires for this leads to healing and the purification of the hearts. Gratifying the desire for lawful things blinds and intoxicates the heart, so what of satisfying the desire for unlawful things? This is why the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “A proper diet is the source of healing, while filling one’s stomach with food and leaving the body to eat what it is used to are the source of disease.” The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has summarized in this saying the science of the human body. Filling the stomach with food puts out the light of intelligence, the lamp of wisdom, and the light of sainthood. As long as you are in this world and among the creatures you must remain on a diet because you are in a hospital. When your heart attains to the True One, your affairs will become His business. He will take charge of you while you are in isolation from yourself. How could not He look after you when you have become genuinely worthy of His company? The Invincible One has said: “My guardian is Allah who sent down the Book, and He guards the righteous” (7.196).

Work on purifying your heart first for this is an obligatory duty and then move on to the acquisition of knowingness, because if you miss the root your engrossment with the branch will not be accepted of you. What benefit would the purity of the limbs and senses have when combined with impurity of the heart? Purify your limbs and senses with the Sunna and your heart by applying the Qur’an. Protect your heart so that your limbs and senses will be protected. Every vessel exudes its contents. Whatever is in your heart will ooze out to your limbs and senses.

* Do not ask for what you will not get. Congratulations to you, if you put into practice this black‑on‑white while you are Muslims. Blessed are you, on the Day of Resurrection be in the company of the Muslims not in the company of the disbelievers. Blessed are we! We sit on the ground of Paradise and at its door and not be with those confined to the depths of Hell.

* No good will come of you, O lad, O young man, O old man, O seeker, if you do not purify your morsel of what is unlawful! Many, in fact most, of you eat food that is contaminated with manifestly unlawful things. When someone eats unlawful food, his heart darkens, and when someone eats dubious food, his heart becomes impure. Your lower selves and passions belittle to your eyes any misgivings you may have about eating unlawful food. The lower self and passion join forces in seeking lustful desires and pleasures and they practice no pious restraint whatsoever in their efforts to obtain them. If you have accustomed your lower self to eating oat bread but it asks you for honey, you must feed it barley bread until its only wish becomes that you return it to eating oat bread. If the lower self does not practice pious restraint in its diet, the likeness of it will be as the likeness of a hen that feeds from the garbage dumps, eating both pure and defiled food. So the person who wants to eat its meat or eggs must isolate it, feed it pure food, and only then eat it. Prevent yourself from eating forbidden food, and feed it pure, lawful food until all its flesh that had grown from unlawful food disappears. Then make it avoid eating forbidden and dubious food, then make it stay away from eating lawful food with passion.

O my sons! When any of you is asked: “Do you wish to die while you are doing this kind of deeds?” he answers: “No.” Yet when he is told: “Then repent and improve your deeds,” he replies: “If Allah (mighty and glorified is He) enables me I will do!” He argues citing destiny when his repentance is concerned but he does not use destiny as an argument when his lustful desires and pleasures are concerned, while standing on the foot of procrastination, hesitating between “yes” and “no.” If death will come to him while he is enjoying his comfortable life and bliss, it will snatch him away from his powerful position and state of honor; it will snatch him away from his shop and earnings. Death will take him by surprise while his will is still unwritten, his accounts are still unregistered, and he has endless hopes.

It is right thinking that makes the righteous move away from inhabited regions and come nearer to unpopulated places, removes their happiness, and perpetuates their sorrow. When a person comes to know Allah (mighty and glorified is He), his sorrow and fear increase. He comes to have a speaker that speaks to him and an engrossment that keeps him busy. He wishes not to hear the speech of any creature and not to meet anyone. He wishes to be freed from his family and his property. He wishes that his allotted worldly shares be transferred to others. He wishes to change his natural inclination and attributes to angelic attributes. Whenever he wants to get rid of all those limitations, the Law prevents him and the Controller restrains him by the foreordination and Knowledge and guards his night and day. He then forsakes this world to be alone with His Lord (mighty and glorified is He), then his knowingness takes him over so He protects him outwardly and inwardly. Al‑Fatḥ Al‑Muṣillī (may Allah show mercy to him) used to say in his private conversation: “O Allah, how much longer will You reject me and imprison me in this world? When will You transfer me to You so that I get relieved from this world and the creatures?”

The likeness of your case is as that when Noah (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on all prophets) said to his son: “O my son, embark with us and do not be with the disbelievers!’ He replied: ‘I shall take refuge in a mountain that will protect me from the water” (from 11.42‑43). The preacher is saying to you: “Come, board with me the ship of salvation,” yet you reply: “I shall take refuge in a mountain that will protect me from the water.” Your mountain is your far‑reaching hopes and your greedy keenness on this world. The Angel of Death will soon come and drown you on your mountain.

Come, O servants of Allah! Leave your homes of ignorance for you have erected the walls of your religion without foundations. You have set your broken religion without a base. This is something that requires demolishing and resetting.

* The people of Allah worship the True One (mighty and glorified is He) day and night, standing on the foot of fear and hope. They are afraid of facing an evil end. They are ignorant of the foreknowledge of Allah about them and their end, so they keep day and night to sorrow, sadness, and weeping, while keeping up the prayer, fasting, making the pilgrimage, and performing all works of obedience. They remember their Lord (mighty and glorified is He) with their hearts and their tongues. Therefore, when they reach the hereafter, they will enter Paradise and Allah (mighty and glorified is He) will direct His bountifulness to them, so they will thank Him and say: “Praise be to Allah who has put sorrow away from us” (from 35.34).

* O young man, take your place in the front row for it is the row of men and the brave! Leave the last row for it is the row of cowards. Put this lower self to work and make it used to observing the strictest laws because the heavier load you put on it the more it can carry. Do not take the stick away from it, otherwise it will fall asleep and throw down the loads. Do not show it the white of your teeth and the white of your eyes because it is a bad servant that will not do its duties unless it gets the stick. Do not satisfy its appetite unless you are sure that this will not make it transgress the limits and that it works in return for having its appetite satisfied. One of the righteous people (may Allah show mercy to him) used to keep on eating until his appetite is fully satisfied, and then he would recite the following piece of poetry before starting a long spell of worship:

Satisfy the appetite of the slave and make him work hard
because the slave is like a donkey.

Someone has said: “I saw Sufyān Ath‑Thawrī eat so much that I disliked him, then I saw him pray and weep so much that I felt compassion for him.” Do not emulate Sufyān in eating so much but emulate him in the plentifulness of his worship, for you are not like Sufyān. Do not satisfy the appetite of your lower self as he used to do to his for you are not in control of yours as he was of his.

Once this heart has become sound, it will become a tree with branches, leaves, and fruits. It will have benefits for the creatures: the human beings, jinn, and angels. If the heart is unsound then it will be like the hearts of animals: an appearance with no essence, a vessel with no water, a tree with no fruit, a stone with no ring, a cage with no bird, a house with no inhabitant, a treasure of gold and silver coins with no one to spend them, and a body with no soul. It will be like the Jewish priests who were transformed into apes and swine, making them an appearance with no essence.

* The lower self is ignorant, so educate it. It lacks polite behavior, so teach it that. It is unable to distinguish between the disease and the medicine, the lawful and the unlawful, and what mends and what ruins. It keeps on disputing with its Lord. Do no feed it even a morsel of lustful desires and pleasures and do not give it more than what it deserves, which is bread alone — that is, with no seasoning. Then when it has got used to that move it to eating green vegetables until returning it to the bread becomes all that it wishes for. Then when it has got used to that, calmed down, and its evil has gone, its allotted worldly shares will come; the seal will come from your Lord: “And do not kill yourselves. Allah is Merciful to you” (from 4.29). Allah has said: “O tranquil soul! Return to your Lord well‑pleased and well‑pleasing” (89.27‑28). Its allotted worldly shares will become clear to it and the foreknowledge will order it to take them. So it will take them while keeping to steadfastness and true renunciation toward them. At this stage, it will not be harmed by taking its allotted worldly shares. Instead, taking them will turn into expansion in the breast and light and purity in the heart.

The case will be like that of a patient whose physician prevents him from eating certain kinds of food and feeds him instead medicines that suit him, be they food or drinks, until he attains good health. After that he orders him to eat food, moving him from one kind of food to another so that eating food becomes a medicine for him and strengthens his body. This is the situation with the ascetic. When he takes his allotted worldly shares after his attainment, they become a source of welfare for his religion and a light in his heart and his innermost being. O Allah, include us among those who renounced everything other than You! Make us seek You under all circumstances and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”

* O people, acquire faith and strike your lower selves with the stick of strife. Hand it over to the trainer of faith. It is an unreliable horse. Your lower selves are untamed, untrained, and full of arrogance and pride. On the way of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) there is no room for saying “I,” “with me,” and “mine.” This way is all about extinction and obliteration. In the beginning, when faith is still weak, [the person says]: “There is no God save Allah (lā ilāha illā Allah)” (from 47.19), but at the end, when faith has become strong, [the person says]: “There is no God save You (lā ilāha illā Anta)” (from 21.87), as he addresses One (mighty and glorified is He) who is present and seen. This is a hidden matter, total secret, one of His favors. Therefore, the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “There are days in your lifetime in which Allah (mighty and glorified is He) confers favors, so avail yourself of them.”

* The believer must strive against his lower self in order to improve his behavior and force it to adhere to good manners. He must also strive to force it to do all required works of obedience, for it has taken arrogance, anger, and abasing people as habitual practices. Strive against it until it calms down. Once it has calmed down, it will become modest and humble, it will become well‑mannered, it will know its status, and it will be patient with others. Before being subjected to striving, the lower self is as arrogant as a Pharaoh.

Blessed is anyone who came to know his lower self, treated it as an enemy, and opposed it in all that it ordered him to do! Make remembering death and what follows it incumbent on it as this humbles it and refines its character. Prevent it from getting what it wants and give it the duties that it must do, so that it will become humble and well‑mannered and come to know its status. By way of contemplation, enter it into the Fire and Paradise to see their contents, as this will humiliate it and amend its behavior. Think of the Day of Resurrection and experience it before it takes place. The Day of Resurrection is a happy day for some people and a sad one for others, celebration for some people and funeral for others. It is the day of the righteous; the day on which they dress up, wear jewels, ride on thoroughbreds, and on which their knowledgeable scholars and eminent ones appear. Their deeds become images whose light appear on their faces.

* Make it binding on your lower selves to behave with humility to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and the believers among his creatures. Order them to fulfill the duties that Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has imposed on them. Interrogate them and call them to account as the righteous people do. When the night has set, ‘Umar bin Al‑Khaṭṭāb (may Allah be satisfied with him) used to say to his lower self: “What have you done for your Lord? What service have you shown to Him?” He would then pick a stick and hit his thighs and interrogate his lower self for everything it did. He would require of his lower self Allah’s (mighty and glorified is He) rights and ask it for more service to Him, although he was one of the great truthful, the righteous, those who are drawn near [to God], those who transmitted the sayings of the Prophet, and those who have been granted paradise. The righteous call their lower selves to account despite their righteousness and obedience, yet you do not call yours to account! No doubt, you will not benefit from them. O Allah, give us power over our lower selves, passions, and devils! O Allah, include us among Your party and with Your party! Bring our hearts near to You before death and grant us the special meeting [with You] before the general meeting [at the Resurrection], Amen.

Luqmān the Wise (may Allah show mercy to him) used to say to his son: “O Son, how can a person feel safe from the Fire when he has to pass through it? How can he feel safe in this world when he has to leave it? How can he feel secure from death when he has to die? How can he forget death when death will not forget him?” All of you will have to pass through the Fire and no one will come out unscathed save those who are pious to Allah (mighty and glorified is He). Passing through the Fire successfully is a journey that requires piety as provision. It does not seem to me that you have acquired any piety.

* O young man, leave the lower self to this world, the heart to the hereafter, and the innermost being to the Master, and never feel secure in this world. It is an adorned snake that uses its finery to attract people then destroys them. Turn totally away from it. You must be sincere in worshipping your Lord (mighty and glorified is He), accompanying and serving your righteous brothers, and avoiding lustful desires. Believe truly in the oneness of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) until not even a single atom of any creature is left in your heart, until you do not see a house or an inhabitant. Do not have any wish other than the wish to have genuine belief in the oneness of God because it kills off everything else in the heart. The belief in the oneness of God and turning away from the love of this world are the ultimate remedy. There will be no good in you until you come to know your lower self, prevent it from getting what it wants, and allow it only what it deserves. At this point it will feel secure with the heart, the heart will feel secure with the innermost being, and the innermost being will feel secure with the True One (mighty and glorified is He).

Do not take the stick of striving away from your lower selves, do not be deceived by their tricks, do not be fooled by their pretended neglect of you, and do not be taken in by the apparent sleep of the beast, for it gives you the impression that it is asleep when it is in fact waiting to pounce on the prey. Beware of it when it is asleep as you are on your guard when it is awake. Beware of your lower selves. Do not take the arm away from the neck of your lower selves. The lower self puts on an appearance of calmness, humility, modesty, and compliance with what is good, yet it conceals inside the exact opposite. Watch out for what it does after that.

Increase your sorrow and decrease your happiness for this business is based on sorrow and sadness. This is how the preceding prophets, messengers, and righteous persons (Allah’s prayer and peace be on them) were. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) was in continuous sorrow and in permanent reflection. He would never laugh but merely smile and he would only ever pretend to be joyful. The sensible person among you will never feel happy with this world, the children, family, property, food, clothing, vehicles, or women. All of this is an illusion. The believer feels happy with the strength of his faith, his certitude, and the attainment of his heart to the door of nearness to his Lord (mighty and glorified is He).

* When the heart of the servant treads the right path, he bids farewell to everything and leaves them behind the back of his heart. He sees the kingdom of this world as totally negligible and that the kingdom of the hereafter is all that matters. He advances to the fire and lions, mixes with the beasts, escapes from the creatures, surrenders his lower self to the thirst and hunger of wildernesses, destroys it, and says: “O Guide of the bewildered ones, guide me to You!”

O young man, make sure that you have only one concern. This comes about only after renouncing the unlawful, then renouncing the permissible, and then renouncing the absolutely lawful. Try your best that you live your night and day without having even a single atom of the creatures in your heart. I can see that you are full of lustful desires, pleasures, interest in the creatures, concerns with this world, and reliance on the means.

* This business [of attaining to God] can come true in one of two ways. First, through striving, suffering, and enduring the heaviest and most arduous burdens. This is the way of the majority of the righteous people. Second, through a gift that requires no effort. This rare way is open only to a few creatures.

* Where do you stand with respect to those whose plentiful worship has been described by Allah (mighty and glorified is He) in His noble Book: “They slept only a small part of the night. And at dawn they prayed for forgiveness” (51.17‑18)? When He recognized their truthfulness in worship He assigned to them someone to wake them up and make them get off their beds. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “Allah (mighty and glorified is He) says to Gabriel: ‘O Gabriel, wake up so‑and‑so and put to sleep so‑and‑so’”! When the footsteps of the hearts of the people of Allah have led them to Allah (mighty and glorified is He), they start to see in sleep what they do not see when they are awake. Their hearts and innermost beings see things that they do not see in wakefulness. They fast, perform prayer, strive against their lower selves, practice detachment from worldly matters, and spend the day and night performing all sorts of worship acts until they are given Paradise. But once they have been given Paradise, they get told that this is not the real way, but it is seeking the True One (mighty and glorified is He). Thus, their deeds start to originate from their hearts, and upon reaching Him they grow and become firm in His presence.

When the person comes to know what he is seeking, he will see whatever energy and effort he has to spend in obeying Allah (mighty and glorified is He) as being negligible. The believer remains in tiredness until he meets his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). This is why the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “When a [faithful] man dies, enters his grave, and successfully answers the questions of the angels Munkar and Nakīr, his soul is given the permission to ascend to Him (mighty and glorified is He) and to prostrate to Him with a group of angels. So He receives it, and what had been kept hidden from it is revealed to it. It will then be carried to Paradise where the souls of the righteous are. They will receive it and ask it about its state of affairs and about the affairs of this world. It will answer them with what it knows. They will then ask it: ‘What about so‑and‑so?’ It will say: ‘He died before me.’ They will reply: ‘He did not arrive to us. There is no might or strength but by Allah, the High, the Great! He must have been thrown in the bottomless pit.’ Then the soul will be put inside the craw of a green bird that feeds on the plants of Paradise and resorts to a lamp that is suspended beneath the Throne.” This is the description of the encounter of the majority of believers (Allah’s peace and greetings be on them). O Allah, include us among them and make us live as they live and die as they die! Amen.

* Woe to you! Your lower self is sick, so protect it from the food that is unsuitable for it until it is restored to the good health of nearness by its Lord (mighty and glorified is He). Woe to you! How could you wish for the nearness to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) when prohibited things have infiltrated your body through your food, drink, sex, and all your behavior? How could you wish for the nearness to Allah when your lower self is in charge of you, your passion is guiding and steering you toward lustful desires and pleasures, and the fire of your natural inclination is burning out your piety and religion? Be sensible, this cannot be the behavior of someone who believes in death and is certain of it. This is not the behavior of someone who looks forward to the encounter with the True One (mighty and glorified is He) and fears His calling him to account and His interrogation. You have no reason, no prudence, no piety, no proper thinking, and no repose. You indulge night and day in amassing things from this world, thinking of it, accompanying its people, and paying homage to them. The people of Allah detach themselves from this world, the hereafter, and from emulating the creatures. Each one of them is like a man who has dispatched his trade camels caravan to Khurāsān1 and sat here with horses waiting for the caravan to move and for the leader to come out. His body is present, while all of his heart is occupied with his house. The believer has sent all his property to the hereafter. He has built there a palace with which he is charmed and he has furnished it with all that he needs. All of his heart is occupied with the nearness to the True One (mighty and glorified is He). Therefore the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “This world is the prison of the believer.”

Footnotes

1 Located today in the east of Iran, the north of Afghanistan, and some parts of the former Soviet Union.

     

Copyright © 2008 Shetha Al-Dargazelli & Louay Fatoohi
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