This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)
* The seeker is stationed under the shade of his repentance, whereas the one who is sought after is stationed under the shade of the care of his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). The seeker is walking, whereas the one who is sought after is flying. The seeker is at the door, whereas the person who is sought after is inside, in the chamber of nearness. When the seeker works with diligence he becomes sought after. Seeking nearness without working toward that goal is an illusion. This statement applies to the majority of cases not the rare ones. When did Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet, on him, and on all prophets) become near? Was not that after experiencing hardships and strivings? After escaping from Pharaoh’s house and working hard for years tending sheep, he experienced what he experienced. How long it took him before he was brought near! After suffering hunger, thirst, and living in exile, his essence was purified and He married him to the daughter of Shu‘aib. Goodness came to him through his wife, because she was the cause of his serving her sheep. Hunger had hit him hard, yet when he gave water to her sheep, He caused him to withdraw alone under the tree and prevented him from asking for a wage in return for his work. Foreordination guided his action, the divine care enabled him to see, and the glances of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) made him prudent and caused him to ask his Lord (mighty and glorified is He) to provide for his needs so he said: “O My Lord, I am in need of whatever good You send down to me!” (from 28.24).
While he was in that situation, Shu‘aib’s daughter came and took him to her father. Shu‘aib asked him about his circumstances, so he told him everything. Shu‘aib then said: “Do not fear, you have escaped from the wrongdoing people” (from 28.25). He married him to his daughter and employed him to shepherd sheep. Moses then forgot the kingdom of Pharaoh and the affluence that he was in. He put on shepherds’ clothes and spent the night and day with the sheep, with those that do not speak. In the wilderness, he learned renunciation and solitude, so his heart was purified, and he matured in those years. The Pharaoh’s kingdom departed from his heart, and this world and all its contents left his innermost being.
By fulfilling the term that he had agreed with Shu‘aib (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him), Moses fulfilled the obligation on his outward, but his obligation to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and the covenant that He has in his heart and innermost being remained to be fulfilled. Moses bid farewell to Shu‘aib and took his wife with him. After walking for three parasangs1 away from Madian the night set in. At this point, his pregnant wife began to feel the pains of labor. She asked him to provide her with some light so she could see. He tried unsuccessfully to produce a spark with the flint stick. Then the night got even darker and he found himself overwhelmed by confusion. The earth seemed too strait despite its spaciousness. He was left as a stranger and lonely man on an unfamiliar road, with his wife in that distress. So he stood on a high spot and looked right and left, forward and backward, trying to hear a sound or see a fire in the distance. He caught sight of a fire at the side of mountain Ṭūr, so he said to his wife: “Calm down, for I have seen a fire that I might be able to bring you light from, or ask the people who started it about the road.” “So when he came to it, he was called from the right bank of the valley” (from 28.30). When he came close to the fire and wanted to take a firebrand from it, the situation completely changed, as the familiar state of affairs disappeared and reality became manifest. He forgot his family and their welfare, but someone came to his wife, treated her with honor, looked after her, and provided for her needs. He was called by a Caller, addressed by an Addresser, and spoken to by a Speaker, who is the True One (mighty and glorified is He). This happened without any intermediary, “from the right bank of the valley, in the blessed spot from the tree” (from 28.30). The tree came to be in front of him. He said: “O Moses! I am Allah, the Lord of the worlds” (from 28.30). He meant: “I am not an angel, jinn, or human being, but the Lord of the creation. Pharaoh has lied when he said: ‘I am your Lord, the most high’ (from 79.24) and claimed divinity. It is only I, Allah, who is the Lord. Pharaoh and the other creatures — jinn, human beings, angels, and all creatures from beneath the Throne to beneath the surface of the earth; the world of your time and the world of the times to come, until the Day of Resurrection — are all created things.”
Woe to you, O innovator! No one can say “I am Allah” (from 28.30) other than Allah. Allah (mighty and glorified is He) does speak. He is not mute. This is why Allah (mighty and glorified is He) confirmed the verity of His speaking faculty by saying: “And Allah did speak to Moses; He spoke to him” (from 4.164). He (high is He) has speech that can be heard and understood. When Moses heard the words of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), his soul almost left his body and he fell on his face as a result of hearing a kind of speech that he had never heard before. The speech fell on the weakness of the human nature so it shattered it. Allah then sent an angel who enabled him to stand on his feet. The angel put one of his hands on Moses’ breast and the other behind his back until he was able to stand and restored his full strength. He caused his heart to be present so that he could comprehend and understand His words. Moses qualified for this after experiencing what seemed to him like his Day of Resurrection and after the earth seemed too strait to him despite its spaciousness.
He was ordered to go to Pharaoh and his people and be a messenger to them, so he said: “O my Lord! ‘And loose the knot of my tongue, that they may understand my words’ (from 20.27‑28) and support me with my brother!” He had a stutter so he was unable to speak fluently. This was because of what happened to him with Pharaoh (may Allah curse him) when he was a little boy. Whenever he wanted to say a word to Pharaoh he stuttered and struggled to pronounce its letters for such a long time that another person would have uttered seventy words. This impediment resulted from what happened to him in Pharaoh’s house when he was a child. Āsyā, Pharaoh’s wife, brought baby Moses to him and said: “He is ‘a delight of the eye for me and you. Do not kill him. May be he will be useful to us or we may take him for a son’” (from 28.9). She brought Moses near to Pharaoh to kiss the baby, but the baby grabbed Pharaoh’s beard, so Pharaoh said: “This is the newborn baby at whose hands my kingdom will be destroyed; he must be killed.” She replied: “This is a young child who does not understand what he is doing.” Then she ordered that a vessel containing red‑hot coals and another containing pearls be brought and put in front of him and said: “Let’s leave both vessels in front of him. If he will know the difference between them and stretch his hand toward the pearls and avoid the fire, put him to death. But if he will not be able to tell the difference between them and will stretch his hand toward the fire, do not kill him.” They agreed to carry out this test and left both vessels in front of the baby. He stretched his hand to the fire, picked up a piece of the red‑hot coal, and put it in his mouth, so he wept. She said: “Did not I tell you that he does not recognize what he is doing? Did not I tell you that he did not do that to you deliberately?” So Pharaoh spared him death. Thus, Allah (mighty and glorified is He) brought him up in Pharaoh’s house. Glory be to Him who prepared for him his affairs and provided for him an outlet and exit from every care, grief, and hardship. The Invincible One 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” (from 65.2‑3).
* O servants of Allah! Observe the five daily prayers at their prescribed times. Perform them with total adherence to their conditions and requirements. Do not perform them while you are absent‑minded. Have you not heard these words of Allah (mighty and glorified is He): “So woe to those who pray while being unmindful of their prayer” (107.4‑5)? Ibn ‘Abbās (may Allah be satisfied with both of them) has said: “By Allah, they did not abandon the prayers but delayed them to later than their prescribed times.”
Repent, so that Allah will show mercy to you. Satisfy the Forgiver by your repentance. Repent, O disobedient ones! Repent, O you who have delayed the prayers beyond their appointed times! O you who embrace Satan’s justification and deceitful argument, O you who are cheated by his guile! Do not disobey! You will not have salvation from the punishment of the Fire. Do not underestimate the One who punishes in this world with blindness, deafness, disability, poverty with the lack of patience, and the need to the creatures despite the hardness of their hearts; and in the hereafter with the Fire. All this is the result of the evil omen of the acts of disobedience and sins. We seek refuge in Allah from His revenge, punishment, striking, and anger. O Allah, pardon us and treat us with Your patience and Your generosity not Your justice! Give us the sustenance of complying with You. Amen. The Prophet is reported to have said: “Allah will create in Hell myrmidons with whom He will exact revenge on His enemies: the disbelievers. When He wishes to punish a disbeliever, He says to the myrmidons: ‘Seize him,’ whereupon seventy thousand myrmidons immediately move toward him. As soon as he falls in the hand of one of them, he melts like fat does when exposed to fire, so nothing of him remains in the hand of the myrmidon other than the drippings. Then Allah (mighty and glorified is He) re‑creates him and the myrmidons will shackle and fetter him with fetters of fire, tie his head to his legs, and throw him in the Fire.”
* O young man! You will not come close to the True One (mighty and glorified is He) through hypocrisy, fluency, eloquence, turning your face away from people in contempt, ignorance, and patching up your frayed garment. All that comes from your lower self, devil, associating creatures with Allah, and begging for worldly things from them. Think well of others and hold a poor opinion of yourself. Treat yourself with contempt and conceal your status. Maintain this practice until you are told: “Speak about the favor that Allah has conferred on you.” Ibn Sam‘ūn2 (may Allah show mercy to him) used to say about any miracle that occurred through him: “This is a trick from Satan.” He kept this practice up until he was told: “Do not you know who you are and who your father is? Speak about Our favor”.
O lovers, O seekers! Beware of losing the True One (mighty and glorified is He), for if you lose Him, you will have lost everything. Allah (mighty and glorified is He) inspired Jesus (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) with the following: “O Jesus, beware of losing Me, for if you lose Me, you will have lost everything, and if you do not lose Me, you will have lost nothing.” Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) said in the course of his private conversation with his Lord (exalted and high is He): “O my Lord, advise me!” So He (exalted and high is He) said to him: “I advise you to be concerned with Me and to seek Me.” Moses repeated his request four times and every time He gave him the same answer. He said to him: “Do not seek this world or the hereafter.” It is as if He said to him: “I advise you to obey Me and give up disobeying Me. I advise you to seek My nearness. I advise you to believe in My oneness and to work for My sake. I advise you to turn away from everything other than Me.”
* O people, remember death and what is after it! Give up your keenness on collecting the goods of this ephemeral world. Curtail your hopes and decrease your greedy keenness. Having great expectations and greedy keenness is most harmful to you. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “When the son of Adam dies and enters his grave, four angels come to it. One angel stands at his head, one angel to his right, one angel to his left, and one angel at his feet. The one at his head will say: ‘O son of Adam, all property has gone and only the deeds have remained!’ The angle to his right will say: ‘O son of Adam, the appointed times have expired and only the hopes have remained!’ The one to his left will say: ‘O son of Adam, the lustful desires have gone and only their consequences have remained!’ The one at his feet will say: ‘O son of Adam, blessed are you, if you have earned your livelihood lawfully and ended up a righteous one’”! O people, take advice from these exhortations — in particular, the exhortations of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and the exhortations of His messengers (Allah’s prayer and peace be on them). O Allah, bear witness for me that I am trying my best to preach to Your servants, exerting strenuous efforts to reform them!
* O young man! When you firmly establish your faith, you will reach the valley of knowingness, then the valley of Knowledge, then the valley of extinction to yourself and to the creatures, and then the existence only through Him, not through yourself or through them. At this point, your fear will disappear, preservation will be at your service, protection will surround you, guidance will stand in respect before you, angels will walk around you, spirits will come to salute you, the True One (mighty and glorified is He) will commend you to the creatures, and His glances will look after you and draw you to the abode of His nearness, intimacy, and private conversation.
* The heart that has turned away from Allah and disbelieved in him is metamorphosed, which is why Allah likened it to stones, when the Best Speaker said: “Then, your hearts hardened after that and became like stones or even harder still” (from 2.74). When the Children of Israel did not put the Torah into practice, Allah (mighty and glorified is He) turned their hearts into stones and expelled them from His door. The same applies to you, O Muhammadans! If you do not apply the Qur’an and follow its laws to the letter, Allah will metamorphose your hearts and dismiss them from His door. Do not be like those each of “whom Allah has knowingly sent astray” (from 45.23).
If you acquire knowledge for the sake of the creatures you will end up serving them, and if you acquire knowledge for the sake of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) you will serve Him. The deeds of obedience are the work of the people of Paradise and the deeds of disobedience are the work of the people of the Fire. Other than that, it is up to Him whether to reward one of us without good work or to punish one of us without bad work. All that is up to Him: “[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).
* O young man, you are nothing other than a lower self, natural inclination, and passion! You spend time with strange women and young boys then you say: “I am not interested in them!” You are a liar. Neither the Law nor reason agree with what you say. You add fire to fire and firewood to firewood, so there is no doubt that the house of your religion and faith will catch fire. The Law’s disapproval of this behavior is universal, exempting no one.
Acquire faith, knowingness of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), and strength of nearness first and then open up a clinic and be a physician for the creatures, acting on behalf of the True One (mighty and glorified is He). Woe to you! How can you touch and handle snakes when you have no expertise in snake handling and have not taken the antidote? You are blind, so how can you cure the eyes of people? You are mute, so how can you teach people? You are ignorant, so how can you practice religion? How can the person who knows no usher bring people to the door of the king? You have no right to utter a single word until you experience a resurrection and witness wonders.
Be sincere in your actions; otherwise, do not lay claims. Once you have cut off all relations and closed the doors and ways, the direction of the True One and His nearness will open to you, the way to Him will be paved for you, and the finest, best, and noblest things will come to you. This world is ephemeral, evanescent, and vanishing. It is the abode of tribulations, afflictions, grieves, and cares. No one will have a perfect life in this world, especially if he is a wise man. As the saying goes, “the wise man who remembers death will never find the delight of his eye in this world.” As for the person who has a lion whose mouth is wide open standing next to him, how can he settle and how can his eyes drop off to sleep? O unaware ones, the mouth of the grave is wide open, the mouths of the lion and the snake of death are wide open! The executioner of the sultan of destiny is carrying the sword in his hand, waiting for the command. Only one in a million is in this state of wisdom — wakeful and free of unawareness. The vigilant person has renounced everything, saying: “O my God, You know what I want! You have favored your creatures with these plates, but I wish for a morsel from the plate of Your nearness. I want something from a thing that belongs to You.”
* The Prophet is reported to have said: “When the believer starts the prayer and his heart enters into the presence of His Lord (mighty and glorified is He), tents of light get erected around him, angels stand around him, righteousness descends on him from heaven, and the True One (mighty and glorified is He) becomes proud of him.” Among the praying people is one whose heart is snatched and taken to the True One (mighty and glorified is He) like the bird is snatched from the cage and like the child is snatched from the arms of his mother. He is taken from what is familiar to him, from what is known to him, and from his abode and is made to become unaware of himself to the extent that if he were to be torn apart and pierced throughout, he would not be aware of that. It has been reported that a righteous man from the honorable people of Allah, who was one of the followers of the companions of the Messenger (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him), namely ‘Aurwa bin Az‑Zubayr bin Al‑‘Aawwām, a nephew of ‘Āisha (may Allah be satisfied with her), had a gangrenous leg and was told that his leg must be amputated or he would die. He said to the physician: “Amputate it after I have started praying.” The physician cut it off while he was in prostration so he did not feel the pain of the operation.
You are in illusion in comparison with those who lived before you. You are words with no action, an appearance with no essence, a scene with no substance. Woe to you! Do not be misled by what people say about you. You know very well what you are involved in and what you are up to. Allah (high is He) has said: “No, the human being will be a proof against himself” (75.14). How good you are in the eyes of the common people and how ugly you are in the sight of the elite! A shaikh said to the seekers who follow him: “If you are wronged, do not do wrong. If you are praised, do not be happy. If you are dispraised do not be saddened. If you are accused of telling lies, do not get angry. If you are entrusted with something, do not show betrayal. If you are saddened, do not be sad.” How good these words are! He ordered them to slay their lower selves and passions. This derives from the Prophet’s (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) following saying: “Gabriel (peace be on him) once came to me and said: ‘The True One (mighty and glorified is He) says to you: “Pardon the person who wrongs you, maintain a connection with the person who cuts you off, and give to the person who deprives you”’”. Reflect on the signs of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), His acts, and His management of His creatures.
* How can you talk about the spiritual states of the righteous people and claim to have attained these states yourself? Do not talk about the spiritual state of someone else and do not spend from the purse of another person. You read books and extract their words which you then use, misleading the audience into believing that these are the fruit of your own thinking and your powerful spiritual state and that they are utterances of your heart. Woe to you! Put their sayings into practice first and then speak so that your speech will be a chick of your deeds and the fruit of the tree of your works. This business is not achieved by merely visiting righteous people and memorizing their words, but by putting what they say into practice, behaving with ultimate politeness in their company, and thinking well of them, in all circumstances. The layperson is rewarded in proportion to the steps he takes with his feet, whereas one of the elite is rewarded in proportion to his spiritual aspiration. When all of the person’s concerns become one single concern, the True One (mighty and glorified is He) will be One for him. If he turns his heart away from anyone other than Him, He (high is He) Himself will guard him. The Invincible One has said in His Book: “My guardian is Allah who sent down the Book, and He guards the righteous” (7.196).
* O young man, while your faith is still weak you have to be concerned with your own affairs. Do not be concerned with your family, your neighbors, and the people of your town and county. When your faith has strengthened, come out to your family and children and then to the creatures. Do not emerge to them before protecting yourself with the armor of piety, covering the head of your heart with the helmet of faith, having in your hand the sword of the oneness of God and in your quiver arrows of answering the Caller, riding the horse of good guidance, and learning the art of attack and retreat, fight and thrust. If you attack the enemies of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) at this point, support and aid will come to you from your six directions: right and left, above and below, and in front and behind. You will snatch creatures from the hands of Satan and carry them to the door of the True One (mighty and glorified is He). The person who attains to this spiritual station will have the veils removed from the eyes of his heart. Whenever he turns to one of his six directions, his sight penetrates the veils and nothing remains screened from it. When he raises the head of his heart, he sees the Throne and the heavens, and when he lowers his head in reflection, he sees the levels of the earth and all its inhabitants of jinn, human beings, and wild beasts. Once you have attained to this spiritual station, you can summon the creatures to the door of Allah (mighty and glorified is He). Before this happens, you can achieve nothing. If you call the creatures when you are not at the door of the Creator, your call to them will be disastrous to you. Whenever you move, you go down; whenever you seek promotion, you get demoted. You have no clue about the righteous. You are tongue‑wagging with no heart, an outward with no inward, a public life with no private life, and a tour with no attack. Your sword is made of wood and your arrows are matchsticks. You are a coward with no courage. The smallest arrow can kill you and send you to the Day of Resurrection. O Allah, strengthen our practice of religion, faith, and bodies with your nearness and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”
* When the servant becomes extinct to his lower self, passion, will, and the creatures, he will be in the hereafter by his essence and in this world only by his body. He will come to be in the Knowledge and grasp of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), swimming in the sea of His power. When the fear of this fearful person intensifies and his heart is about to be torn to pieces by fear, the True One (mighty and glorified is He) will draw him near, make Himself known to him, give him good news, and reassure him. The situation will be similar to how Joseph (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) treated his brother Benjamin. He saw his brothers sitting together behind him, so he invited them to sit and eat in one place, but he gave to Benjamin a seat beside him and ate with him. When they finished eating he confided a secret to him: “I am your brother, Joseph,” so he became very happy. Then Joseph said to him: “I would like to publicly implicate you in a theft and accuse you of stealing, so endure the test with patience.” Benjamin’s brothers were astonished at what happened between him and Joseph and they envied him as they previously envied Joseph. After he made Benjamin’s robbery and disgrace public, Joseph conferred honor on him and drew him close to himself. The same applies to the believer. When Allah (mighty and glorified is He) befriends him He tests him with afflictions and tribulations, so if he endures them with patience, He confers on him honor and nearness.
* O young man, do righteous works and take in return the nearness to the Lord of the worlds. As for the people of Paradise, “they shall be safe in the chambers” (from 34.37). They will be safe from the tribulations of this world, from having to endure poverty with patience, the death of children, illnesses, diseases, grieves, and cares. They will live safe from death, from drinking its glass again, and from the questioning of the angels Munkar and Nakīr. They will enter Paradise and the doors will be locked behind them. They will not leave Paradise, staying there forever. The real comfort of the people of Paradise is entering it.
* If any of you work for the sake of Paradise, he should not count this as work. Work for the sake of the face of Allah. Do not lose your commitment to fasting, praying, and doing all kinds of good works, while being sincere in all. Master this outward matter, for putting it into practice carries you to the valley of Knowledge. Walk to the door of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) with steps of faith and certitude. Then, you will see what no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and has never occurred to any human being. O hearts, listen! O eloquent ones, listen! O sensible ones, listen! The True One (mighty and glorified is He) did not address the children, but He addressed the mature adults — those with reason. He did not address the lower selves, but He addressed the hearts. The believers listened to His words, whereas the polytheists met His address with deafness. O Allah, awaken us from our sleep and draw a veil over our shortcomings in all circumstances! Draw a veil over our good and evil things. Do not involve us in dealings with anyone other than You, neither in praise nor in scandals; neither at the time of commendation, in which case we would become boastful, nor at the time of a scandal, as our shortcomings would be made public; let it be neither this nor that. Amen.
* The people of Allah sought the neighbor before buying the house, the companion before traveling the way. What is this neighbor? It is drawing near to the True One (mighty and glorified is He), knowing Him, believing in Him, trusting Him, and having confidence in His promise. Their hearts have understood, so they shunned the abode of this world and the abode of the hereafter and stood aside from them. O unaware ones! The thing that I have explained comes about only through action and submerging into it, at times with the limbs and senses and at others with the heart. Speak sometimes, then be silent at others. Work sometimes, but give up action at others. Be embarrassed and close the eye of the heart so that it does not see your deeds. If you achieve this, you will be mobilized by Allah (mighty and glorified is He). It will be said to you: “move, advance, open your eyes, and see with the eyes of your head and the eyes of your heart what has come to you from Allah (mighty and glorified is He), through the hand of His destiny.” The people of Allah always behave with humility and humbleness. They continue to do so until the One for whose sake they have humbled themselves raises them up.
* Acquire knowledge for there is much good in it. Acquire knowledge and put it into practice in order to benefit from it. Knowledge is like the sword and action is like the hand. A sword without a hand cannot cut anything, and a hand without a sword also cannot make any cut. Acquire knowledge outwardly and work sincerely inwardly. You will not be given the smallest reward without sincerity. Listen to the Qur’an and apply it for the True One (mighty and glorified is He) revealed it in order to be used as a means for attaining to Him. It has two ends, one in His hand and one in our hands. If you grab it firmly, He will elevate your hearts to Him. He will snatch your hearts and place them in the abode of His nearness while you are still in this world, before the hereafter. If you wish to attain to Him, renounce this world and the creatures. Renounce yourself, your family, your property, your lustful desires, your dubious things, and the love for receiving praise, applause, and attention from the creatures. When you have genuinely renounced all these things, you will not need them. Your stomach will be fully fed, your belly will have sufficient water, your inward and your private life will prosper, your heart and your innermost being will become lit, and your lower self will calm down. All of this will result from the blessings of your putting the Qur’an into practice. This Qur’an is an illuminating sun so keep it in the houses of your hearts to light for you. Woe to you! If you put out the lamp, how can you see in the darkness of the night what is in front of you?
* As for you, O preachers, you have got up to the position of the prophets (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them) without credentials! You have advanced to the first row, yet you do not know the art of attack, retreat, and battle. Get down, learn, work, act with sincerity, and only then get up. This business comes about by striving against the lower self, passion, natural inclination, Satan, this world, and lustful desires; and by giving up any interest in the creatures and not viewing them as the source of harm and benefit. When you have overcome all these and overpowered them by the strength of your faith, certitude, and belief in the oneness of God, the True One will descend on your heart and your innermost being, allow them access to the house of His nearness, give them the authority to command His creatures, and send them back to the creatures. At this stage, you will have learned the art of attack and retreat which you will need when you mix with people and set yourself as an example for them. O Allah, employ us in what pleases You with us and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”
* O young man, practice pious restraint in relation to this world and the hereafter under all circumstances and then you will succeed. If you practice pious restraint, no argument against you will remain and Allah will be pleased with you. A righteous man was seen in a dream after his death and was asked: “What has Allah done to you?” He replied: “My Lord has forgiven me.” He was asked: “On what account has Allah (mighty and glorified is He) done that to you?” He said: “One day I performed the ablution in a public bath and headed to the mosque. When I approached it I noticed on my leg a spot the size of a sliver coin that had not been touched by the water. So I returned and washed that area. The True One (mighty and glorified is He) said: ‘I have forgiven you for your respect of My Law’”.
Where do you stand in relation to the people whose “sides shun their beds” and who cannot sleep? How could they sleep when fear is disturbing them and wiping sleep from their eyes? They sleep only when they are overwhelmed by sleep while in prostration. So, glory be to Him who sends to them that favor of irresistible sleep so that their bodies can take a moment of rest. “Their sides shun their beds.” Their beds reject their sides, and their sides cannot settle down on their beds — sometimes because of fear, sometimes because of hope, sometimes because of love, and at others because of longing. How little your fear of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) is despite how little your obedience is! How great the fear of the righteous ones is despite how great their obedience to Him (mighty and glorified is He) is! When our Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) used to pray, a whizzing in his breast like that of a kettle was heard. As for Abraham (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him), the humming of his breast when he prayed was heard from the distance of a mile, which equals three parasangs. They were in fear despite being truthful, prophets, intimate friends [of Allah], and lovers, and having their prayers answered. Tell me, what is exactly your state of affair? I can see that you have turned away from the middle and left the column, your feeling of intimacy with obedience has decreased and your sense of alienation with it has increased, and you have become content with earning very little good, while much of this world is too little to satisfy you. This is not the behavior of someone who knows that he will die, meet his Lord (mighty and glorified is He), and have his works paraded before him on the Day of Resurrection. This is not the behavior of someone who fears the reckoning and interrogation. This is not the behavior of someone who will descend into his grave having no idea whether it is one of the pits of the Fire or one of the gardens of Paradise.
The people of Allah fast during the day and spend the night in worship. When they feel exhausted they lay on the ground to rest. “Their sides shun their beds” so they wake up and resume their works. “They pray to their Lord in fear and hope” (from 32.16). They are afraid of rejection and hope for acceptance. They say: “O our Lord, our deeds are not righteous. They are imperfect. They are not done with sincerity. They are not devoid of self‑admiration and vanity.” Therefore, they are afraid of rejection and hope that their works be accepted for they know that He is generous, accepts what is little but gives very much. He accepts what is bad and counterfeit yet gives what is good. He accepts little, defective goods yet gives in full measure. Being afraid is a form of observing the strictest laws of religion, whereas being hopeful is a form of resorting to the special concessions. The people of Allah swing between fear and hope, at one time in this, at another in that; at one time with the outward, at another with the inward; at one time in a state of purity, at another in a state of impurity; at one time in a state of honor, at another in humiliation; at one time in a state of being given, at another in a state of having things withheld from them. They continue in this situation until the prescribed term is fulfilled and their hearts attain to their Creator. From then on, they will no more make use of the special concessions or have impurity but instead they will observe the strictest laws of religion and have total purity. The property will follow you to the door, your family will follow you to the grave and then return, whereas your works will accompany you, go down with you to the grave, and will not leave you.
* Serve this King, the Creator, the Provider, the Benefactor, the One who “made the sun for a brightness and the moon a light” (from 10.5) and made the night for stillness. He drew your attention to favors and reckoned them so that you may thank Him for them. Then He said to you after reckoning them: “And if you reckon the favors of Allah you will never count them” (from 14.34). Anyone who comes to know the reality of the favors of Allah will find himself unable to be thankful for all of them and will be stunned by them. This is why Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) said: “O Allah, I thank You through my inability to thank You!” How little your gratitude is and how frequent your protest is! When you come to know Him, your tongues will be silent in His presence and your hearts and your limbs and senses will adhere to ultimate politeness under all circumstances. This is why the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “When someone comes to know Allah, his tongue becomes exhausted.” The knower acts as if he were mute and does not disclose the secrets that he knows except with His permission.
O young man, entrust yourself, your limbs and senses, your family, and your property to the True One (mighty and glorified is He) whose trusts are never lost. Move with your heart to Him for you will find with Him all that is good. Pay due respect to the Law, please the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him), follow in his footsteps, then enter into the presence of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) on the feet of your Knowledge of Him, then enter into the presence of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) on the feet of your deeds and your knowingness of Him. Accompany the Law until you reach the door. Once you have arrived, stop the Law there, ask it to pray for your safety and good fortune, and then enter to the house of your innermost being and essence. One of the righteous people is reported to have said: “Earning my livelihood by playing the drum and the pipe is closer to my heart than making a living by selling my religion.”
* How diverse your knowledge is, yet how few your works are! You have restricted your share of knowledge to memorizing and relating narratives and biographies. It would not benefit you at all to memorize certain Prophetic sayings and not put a single letter of them into practice. This will be evidence against you not in your favor. He says: “My shaikh is so‑and‑so,” “I have accompanied so‑and‑so,” “I have learned under the supervision of so‑and‑so,” and “I have said such‑as‑such to the learned scholar so‑and‑so.” All of this without action is worthless. The person who is truthful in his deeds bids farewell to the shaikhs, goes past them, and points out to them: “Stay in your place and I will go to the place that you showed me the way to.” The shaikhs are a door, so is it any good that you remain at the door and never enter the house? “And Allah strikes parables for people” (from 14.25).
* O you who claim to possess what you do not have, you will know the consequences of this in a while. You will know sooner or later the punishment for your claim! O learned scholars, O learners, knowledge is not in itself the goal but the aim is its fruit! What use is the tree that does not bear fruit? What is the fruit of knowledge other than works and sincerity? The Book and the Sunna are both tools to be used, so what is to be hoped of a tool if left unused? The workman earns his wage only after he has done his work and exerted efforts. You are not allowed to say anything unless you return from your journey into this world, the universe, and the creatures. When you arrive to Him, He will explain, disclose, and reveal to you. Allah (high is He) has said: “And be pious to Allah and [then] Allah will teach you” (from 2.282). And He (high 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” (from 65.2‑3). Piety is the foundation of every good and the means for the arrival of worldly rewards, wisdom, and various kinds of Knowledge and for acquiring purity of the hearts and innermost beings.
* The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “The person who acquires knowledge, puts it into practice, and teaches others will be called ‘great’ in the kingdom of heaven.” Reflect on what you are involved in and what you are up to. If you find that it is pleasing to Allah (mighty and glorified is He), adhere to it, but if you find that it is contrary to His pleasure, give it up. Practice pious restraint with respect to your food, drink, wife, house, speech, action, and inaction.
O young man, conceal the favors that you have. If you had to reveal them because of the intervention of someone else, this would be out of your control, but if it was you who revealed them, you would be punished. Ultimate politeness dictates that the teller should be someone other than you. Among the righteous there is one who sits in privacy, in a cell in the wilderness, on his shore, watching with his head and innermost being the emptiness of his stomach, feeling intimacy with his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). Then a righteous believer from the human beings, jinn, or angels passes by and says to him: “May Allah (mighty and glorified is He) comfort you, may Allah confer intimacy on you, may Allah bless you with His remembrance, O purified one, O preferred one, O pious one, O sincere one, O distinguished one, O favored one!” He will not raise his head to look at him and will not become conceited because of what he heard from him with his heart. He hears those words time after time, yet he behaves as if he never did. Should this man, and anyone like him, return to the creatures, he will become a physician for them in the hospital of this world. His medicines will be beneficial and effective. His medical kohl will stop the running of the tears of the eyes of the hearts and cure their diseases. He is healthy, so good health can be restored by him. He is alive, so life can be given by him. He is a light, so he is sought for illumination. He is food, so hunger can be satisfied by him. He is a drink, so thirst can be quenched by him. He is an intercessor, so his intercession will be accepted. He is a speaker, so his speech will be heard. He is a commander, so his commands will be obeyed. He is one who has the authority to forbid, so His prohibitions will be honored.
The people of Allah conceal what is in their hearts. They keep secret the various kinds of knowingness and Knowledge they have. The doors of their hearts are open in the direction of the house of nearness to their Lord (mighty and glorified is He) by night and day. They enjoy the hospitality of the guest‑house of the hearts. Their hearts and innermost beings remain, by night and day, in the heaven where rewards descend from the True One (mighty and glorified is He). When the heart has become sound, it will become prefect — raises above everything, turns into a jewel, becomes pure, raises above all, becomes the gathering place of all good things, and becomes like the staff of Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) in which all sorts of good things were gathered for him. It has been suggested that Gabriel (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) picked it from the plants of Paradise and handed it to Moses when he escaped from Pharaoh. It has also been suggested that Jacob (peace be on him) handed it to someone and it later reached Moses. Allah made the staff a miracle for the creatures, a source of strengthening and affirmation of the prophethood of Moses, and a means that brings to him various things. When Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) felt tired, the staff carried him and his belongings like a riding animal. When he came up against a river, it turned into a bridge for him to cross over. When an enemy of Moses appeared, it fought the enemy on his behalf. One day Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) was tending his sheep in a desolate wilderness, alone with no intimate companion other than his Lord (mighty and glorified is He), when sleep overcame him. He woke up to find a trace of blood on the end of his staff. Looking around, he found a huge dead serpent. He thanked Allah (high is He) for protecting him from its harm.
When Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) became hungry, the staff immediately turned into a tree and produced fruit for him to eat until he felt satisfied. When he became thirsty, it turned into a river so he drank from it until his thirst was quenched. When the heat of the sun became too intense for him, he placed the staff by his side so its shade protected him. This is what happens to the servant when his heart becomes sound and suitable for his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). It becomes endued with benefits for the creatures in general and for him in particular: general benefits and special benefits. Those that become manifest are for the creatures, whereas the hidden ones are for him. Those that are public are for the creatures, whereas the secret ones are for him.
The onset of this business is [the recitation of] “there is no God save Allah (lā ilāha illā Allah) (from 47.19), Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (Muhammadun rasūlu Allah)” (from 48.29), and its final stage is seeing as equal: praise and dispraise, good and bad, benefit and harm, acceptance and rejection and people’s attention and neglect. Rectify your practice of the first stage so that your practice of the second will become right. If you do not put your foot firm on the first step of the ladder, how can you climb up to the second? The works are judged by their final outcomes. Your declaration that “there is no God save Allah (lā ilāha illā Allah), Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (Muhammadun rasūlu Allah)” is a claim, so where is the evidence [that you do believe in it]? The evidence is the belief in the oneness of God, sincerity, and applying the Law properly and giving it its due.
* Woe to you! Do not attend the sessions of nonpracticing scholars! Do not vomit in their places what you drink in my presence, for that drink will not benefit you. These scholars are like laymen in comparison with those who act on their knowledge. The scholar who does not put his knowledge into practice is a layman, even if he has memorized all kinds of knowledge. Anyone who fails to come to know Allah (mighty and glorified is He) is a layman. Anyone who does not fear Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and does not have hope in Him is a layman. Anyone who is not pious to Him in his private and public lives is a layman. The truth of your spiritual states is as clear to me as this sun. You cannot find the right path. You are young men messing around and seeking to satisfy your lustful desires. You are slaves to the creatures, slaves to their giving and withholding, and slaves to their praise and dispraise. Do not try to conceal your faults from me, for I do not have any doubt. What is inside the door and outside it are one and the same to me. Everything in your hearts has left traces and marks on your faces. Glory be to the One who has placed me in front of you and set for me the test of preaching to you.
* Woe to you! You have not perfected your practice of Islam, so how can you get up to this position and preach and teach the creatures? Get down, otherwise I shall take you down and make you land on your head. Religions differ from one another. The True One (mighty and glorified is He) defends His religion, separates between truth and falsehood, and deposes the hypocrite from his governing position, brings him down from his pulpit, and prevents him from lecturing to people. O hypocrites, have you not known that I have a comprehensive authority and that I am in charge of the affairs of religion? O all you creatures, by virtue of my reliance on Allah (mighty and glorified is He), I do not need you. Wealth is under my command, despite the fact that I do not possess a single atom of this world. If any creature gives me something, I see it as mere prattle for him to claim it to be his favor to me. I accept that thing as given to me from the hand of Allah (mighty and glorified is He). I see it as a favor from Allah not from him and I thank my Lord (mighty and glorified is He). And when I give someone a gift, I see it as a gracious enablement from Allah (mighty and glorified is He), that He has caused that gift to be given by means of my hand, so I see Allah (mighty and glorified is He) as the Giver not myself. You are given gifts in proportion to your aspiration, and gifts are withheld from you also in proportion to your spiritual aspiration. It is for this reason that the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “Allah (mighty and glorified is He) loves the noblest of things and hates the lowest of things.”
1 An ancient Persian unit of distance that is equal to about 3.5 miles (5.6 km).
2 A famous Sufi Shaikh from Baghdad (912‑998).