This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)
Do not borrow the good words of Allah, pretend that they are yours, and utter them. Borrowed things cannot be concealed. Clothe yourself from what you have, not from what you have borrowed. Plant the cotton with your hand, water it with your hand, and cultivate it with your effort, then weave the cotton, sew it, and wear it. Do not be happy with someone else’s property and someone else’s clothes. If you borrow someone else’s words and utter them pretending that they are your own, the hearts of the righteous people will detest you.
* Listen, O objectors, O disputers, O you who are ill‑mannered! Listen to me, for I am one of the callers of the nation of prophets and one of their followers and brokers. I adjudicate by the Book and the Sunna and then by the heart. Anyone whose heart has been brought near to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) will not fail to recognize what I say. Only a few individuals among the servants of Allah (high is He) renounce the company of the creatures and derive intimacy from reading the Qur’an and the words of the Messenger (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him). No doubt, they will come to have hearts that feel intimacy with the True One (mighty and glorified is He), are close to Him, and with which they see themselves and others. The eyes of their hearts open so nothing of what you are involved in can be concealed from them. They speak about what you think of and tell you what you keep in your homes. Woe to you! Be sensible, do not compete with the people of Allah with your ignorance.
* The believer has three eyes: the eye of the head with which he looks at this world, the eye of the heart with which he looks at the hereafter, and the eye of the innermost being with which he sees the True One (mighty and glorified is He). The eyes of the head expires in this world, the eyes of the heart expires in the hereafter, and the eyes of the innermost being remains with the True One (mighty and glorified is He) in this world and in the hereafter because it is focused on Him in this world and in the hereafter. If the believer who has this quality happens to be in a populated area, he will be a mercy to its people. Were it not for him, that area would have been made to sink into the ground and the buildings would have collapsed on its inhabitants. Accept this and believe it. Do not choose to be with the ignorant people who killed the prophets and messengers (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them). Do not be with those who became enemies of their Lord (mighty and glorified is He), those who have been placed at a distance, screened off, and expelled. O Allah, forgive us and forgive them! Amen.
* When you know the creatures through Allah’s Knowledge and know them through His knowingness, their attributes will disappear from you. Any nature of the human beings, jinn, and angels will vanish from you. Your heart will acquire new attributes and so will your innermost being. The shell of your existence will be removed from you. This is the shell of the habitual practice of the children of Adam (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him). The Law will come and be a garment on your body, so you will become clothed with your own affairs and with the attributes of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and His commandment. Then the Divine, Lordly Knowledge will come and be a garment on your heart and innermost being.
* The reality of Islam is submissiveness. The people of Allah have thrown themselves prostrate before their Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and have forgotten asking “why” and “how” and saying “do” and “do not.” They perform all kinds of works of obedience while standing on the foot of fear. This is why the True One (mighty and glorified is He) has described them as follows: “They do what they do while their hearts are full of fear because they will return to their Lord” (3.60). [He means]: “They carry out My commandments and observe My prohibitions. They endure with patience My affliction and offer thanks for My rewards to them. They surrender themselves, their property, their children, and their worldly affairs to the hand of My foreordination, while their hearts are afraid, fearful of Me.”
* O servants of Allah, be sensible and work hard to know the One whom you worship before death comes to you! Ask Him by day and night to supply all your needs. Asking Him for something is an act of worship. Whether He gives you what you ask for or not, do not accuse Him, rush Him, or get bored of asking Him. Ask Him while standing on the feet of humility. If His answer was delayed, do not object to Him for He knows your best interests better than you. Listen to these words, understand them, and act in accordance with them. These are words of a straight way. They are the words of someone who is experienced, an expert. Alas for you that you should die before you know your Lord (mighty and glorified is He). Woe to you! How could you come to One whom you have not known or dealt with, whose hospitality you have not enjoyed, and whose remembrance of entertainment you have not eaten from? Do business with Him and you will see that your business has become profitable. Make sure that you will have favor for you with Him before arriving in His presence. Be generous to the poor and the needy and console them with some of your wealth. Thus you will have made sure that you will have favor for you with Him. If you do that, He will confer on you rewards and treat you with kindness in this world and the hereafter.
* When the knower renounces the hereafter he says to it: “Get out of my way for I am seeking the door of the True One (mighty and glorified is He). You and this world are one and the same in my eyes. This world used to screen me off from you and you screen me off from my Lord (mighty and glorified is He). You are unworthy of respect as you try to screen me off from Him.” Listen to these words because they are the essence of the Knowledge of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and the kernel of what He wishes from His creatures and wants to happen in His creation. This is the spiritual state of the prophets, messengers, saints, and righteous (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them).
* When Pharaoh disputed destiny and wanted to change Allah’s foreknowledge, He destroyed him, drowned him in the sea, and made Moses and Aaron inherit him. When the mother of Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on them) feared the butchers whom Pharaoh appointed to slaughter every newborn child, Allah inspired her to cast him into the sea. She became afraid for his safety, so she was told: “Do not fear or grieve. We shall return him to you and make him one of Our messengers” (from 28.7). [He meant]: “Do not be afraid. Let your heart be assured and your innermost being be at rest. Do not be afraid that he may drown and die. We shall return him to you and turn through him your poverty into affluence.” So she prepared an ark, put him inside it, and threw it into the sea. It floated on the surface of the water until it reached Pharaoh’s house. When it went past it, Pharaoh’s maidservants and Āsyā received it. They opened the ark and found a child inside it. They all loved him, and compassion for him grew in their hearts. They anointed him and changed his underwear and clothing with new ones. He became among the closest creatures to Āsyā and her maidservants. Everyone of Pharaoh’s people who saw him loved him, which is the meaning of His (high is He) words: “And I cast love from Me over you” (from 20.39). It has been said that anyone who looked him in the eye loved him. Then He returned him to his mother and brought him up in Pharaoh’s house against Pharaoh’s will and Pharaoh could not kill him.
How could one whom the Lord created and reared for Himself be killed and slaughtered? How could the water drown him when he is protected and spoken to [by Him]? How could anyone hate one whom the True One (mighty and glorified is He) loves? How could anyone fail one whom He supports? How could anyone impoverish one whom He enriches? How could anyone demote one whom He promotes? How could anyone depose one whom He appoints as a ruler? How could anyone keep remote one whom He brings near? O Allah, open for us the door of Your nearness! Include us among the people who obey You. Include us among your few individuals and soldiers. Give us a seat at the mat where Your favor is served, give us a drink of Your intimacy, and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”
* O young man, be sound in order to be eloquent! Be sound in your private life and then you will be eloquent in your public life. If you are sound in this world you will be eloquent in the hereafter when you will speak in the presence of Allah (mighty and glorified is He). You will be allowed to intercede and you will be asked to intercede on behalf of others. He will cause you to intercede on behalf of whomever He chooses of His creatures. After His permission and issuing the command, He will accept that from you to honor you and reveal your status in His eyes. Be sound in your relation with Him and then you will be eloquent in teaching His creatures. You will become a teacher and an educator who teaches them polite behavior. Woe to you! Having sat in this place to preach to people, how could you laugh with them and tell funny stories? No doubt, neither you nor they will succeed. The preacher is a teacher and an educator who teaches polite behavior, whereas the listeners are like children. The child learns only when treated with roughness and faced with seriousness and frowning. Only a few of them learn without the need for that but through a gift from Allah (mighty and glorified is He).
O people, this world is ephemeral! This world is mere shackles, sorrows, cares, grieves, and a veil between you and your Lord (mighty and glorified is He). Look at it with the eyes of your hearts not the eyes of your heads. The eye of the heart looks at the essence, whereas the eye of the head looks at the appearance.
The believer totally belongs to Allah (mighty and glorified is He). There is not even a single atom of him that belongs to Allah’s creatures. He is with Him in both his outward and inward. He does not move except for His sake and does not come to rest but for His sake. So, he exists in Him, from Him, and for Him. The allotted worldly shares of the believer in Allah come to him and knock at his door while he is forgetful of them. They come to him and stand at his service.
* O people, remember and remind others, for “only those with sound reason remember” (from 13.19)! It is the people of Allah who are the ones with sound reason. They have properly understood this world so they renounced it. Then they understood the hereafter so they entered into it. Once its trees have sprouted for them, its rivers have flowed for them, and they have become in possession of it in wakefulness and sleep, the love of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) came to them, so they abandoned the hereafter, traveled away from it, and left it. They tightened the girdles of their hearts and headed to their Lord (mighty and glorified is He). They became among those who seek His face and wish for nothing other than Him. Seek blessings from these people, seek them out, serve them, get to know them, and behave with ultimate politeness in their company. O Allah, grant us good behavior with You under all circumstance and with the righteous of Your servants and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”
* Once the wing of Knowledge has grown long, the scissors of the Law clip it. Accept my words and my good advice to you as I teach on account of my belief in the oneness of God and listening to the words of the truthful and the saints. Their words are like revelations from Allah (mighty and glorified is He). They speak on His behalf, and He commands them in a way that is beyond the comprehension of the common man. You are in illusion! You compose your speech from the books and then deliver it. What would you do if your book is lost? What if your books are burned? What if your lamp went out? What if your jar broke and the water inside spilled? Where are your flint, matches, and the fuel that you see with?
* Someone asked: “I want to be one of those who seek His face, for my heart has glanced at the door of nearness and was shown the lovers entering and coming out dressed in clothes that the King has conferred on them. What is the price of entering into it?” We said to him: “Sacrifice the whole of you. Give up your lustful desires and pleasures. Be extinct in Him that you cease to exist to yourself. Bid farewell to Paradise and its contents and leave it. Abandon the lower self, passion, and natural inclination. Give up the lustful desires of this world and the hereafter, bid farewell to everything, leave them behind your back, and then enter, for you will see what no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and has never occurred to any human being.”
O young man, say “Allah.” “Say ‘Allah’ then leave them alone” (from 6.91)! Say: “[He] who created me, so He guides me” (26.78). O you who have renounced this world! When your heart has gone out of it seeking the hereafter, say: “[He] who created me, so He guides me.” And you, O seeker of the True One, who are longing for Him, who have renounced everything apart from Him! When your heart leaves through the door of Paradise seeking its Master, say: “[He] who created me, so He guides me.” Seek His guidance to overcome the rugged parts of the road. O people, answer my call for I am a caller of Allah (mighty and glorified is He)! Return to your Creator with your hearts. All of you will soon be dead. Work to open the door of repentance to Him and forgiveness in His presence. You must watch Him and you must know that He is overseeing, watching, and witnessing you. Have you not heard Allah’s (high is He) following words: “There cannot be a private conversation between three but He makes the fourth, or between five but He makes the sixth, or between fewer or more but He is with them, wherever they may be” (from 58.7)?
Eat from the food of His remembrance and drink from the drink of His intimacy. His nearness should be all that you need. O you who are dead at heart, O you who are seated in dissimulation, stand up before you are paraded! Stand up before you die. O you who are seated in the place of ebb, stand up before the tide reaches you! Stand up for the water has run beneath you. Get up off the ground of your polytheism and move to the ground of your belief in the oneness of God. O our Lord, set us up in a trade that makes You satisfied with us! “Do not make our hearts deviate after You have guided us” (from 3.8). Do not deviate our hearts from the truth. Do not turn them away from following Your Book and the Sunna of Your Messenger Muhammad (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) and acting in accordance with them. Do not cause us to deviate from following in the footsteps of the prophets, messengers, martyrs, and righteous (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them). Place our souls with their souls. Let us enter the house of Your nearness in this world before the hereafter. Amen.
If, on the Day of Resurrection, the lovers can find a way not to enter Paradise then they will not enter it, because they will say: “What have we to do with made things? We wish for the Maker. What have we to do with Paradise? We wish for the Creator. What have we to do with what is done? We wish for the Doer. What have we to do with things that are new? We want the Old One.” This will be the state of the heart when it becomes sound, so no doubt it will be drawn near to the True One (mighty and glorified is He). If its abandonment of this world and the creatures proves genuine, it will deserve nearness.
Woe to you! I have been standing at the door of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) from my childhood, whereas you have not seen it at all. Your heart has not seen the door or its Owner. You are in the East and what I am referring to is in the West. Be sensible. I have been educated and so I am teaching now. I have not tried to comprehend everything with my intellect while I am standing at His door with the elite of His servants. Say: “The trustworthy one has spoken the truth,” and suspend your intellect. O friend of Joseph, talk about what you have and talk about what you know! O young man, speak from your heart and truthfulness, otherwise shut up. Spend from your coins, your treasure, and what you have in your home, otherwise do not steal to spend. Feed the people from your plate and let them drink from your spring. The believer who has become a knower gives drinks and drinks from a spring that never runs dry — a spring that he has excavated with the mattocks of his strife and truthfulness.
* The people of Allah have deeds that compare to mountains of goodness, yet they consider them worthless. They behave with humility and force their lower selves into submission. Behave with a similar humility, caution, and fear of the One who must be feared, of the loss of the purity of the innermost being, and of causing strain in it and in the breast. If you continue like that, you will be awarded safety by Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and it will be sealed on your heart and innermost being and be written on the walls of your private life. Your private life and your limbs and senses will come to have signs, languages, glorification, and remembrance of Allah whose wonders your heart will hear yet which your mouth will not utter a word about. Your outward and the creatures will not hear a single word about it. This will be something that will not be revealed for someone else. It will be a favor that you get used to and talk about within yourself: “And of the favor of your Lord do speak” (93.11). [It means]: “O saint, do talk about these inward favors within yourself! And O Prophet, do talk to the creatures about the favors of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and His generosity to you!” It is a condition on the saint to conceal and on the Prophet to disclose. The saint’s disclosure is an action of Allah (mighty and glorified is He). If he discloses his favors he gets afflicted and deprived of his spiritual state. But if his disclosure is caused by Allah’s (mighty and glorified is He) action, he does not get subjected to rebuke and reproach because that was not his action. Someone once said to me: “I have noticed that everyone who is given a spiritual state conceals it, yet you disclose it!” I replied: “Woe to you! We have not disclosed anything. It shows up involuntarily, not intentionally. Whenever my basin becomes full I reduce it. But when the flood comes it spills out all around without my choice; what can I do?”
Woe to you! You go into seclusion to receive revelations! What have you to do with the retreat when the creatures have filled your heart? You have to take to the deserts and wildernesses. After you find the treasure of nearness there return to sit with the creatures. At that stage, you will become a medicine for them. May Allah show mercy to anyone who believes in what I say, tastes what I say, and puts what I say into practice in both his private and public lives.
* Among the saints are those who, during their sleep, eat from the food of Paradise, drink from its drinks, and see all its contents. Among them are those who become free of any need for food and drink, retreat from the creatures, become invisible to them, and live on the earth without dying, such as Ilyās and Al‑Khidhr (may Allah be satisfied with both of them). Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has a large number of them on this earth hidden behind a veil. They can see people, but people cannot see them. The saints among them form a majority but the elite represent a minority. They are a few, isolated individuals to whom everyone comes and draws near. It is through their agency that the earth becomes full of plants, rain falls from the sky, and affliction is removed away from the creatures. The food and drink of the angels is the remembrance of Allah, the True One (mighty and glorified is He), glorification, and recitation of “there is no God save Allah (lā ilāha illā Allah)”. There are a few saints for whom this comes to be their food. How much disadvantaged you are, O you who are healthy, you who have free time! The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “Two favors that many people fail to appreciate: good health and free time.”
* Many servants work diligently by night and day in worshipping Allah, yet with ignorance of Knowledge, the divine decree, and destiny. They speak about the truth without making any reference to the Law. No doubt, therefore, they end up as infidels. This is why it has been said: “Every truth that is not supported by the Law is mere infidelity,” meaning that the Law should be perfected first and this will be the foundations on which the edifice should be erected afterward.
* O young man, rely on Allah and get up and have determination! I do not see a beginning or an end for you. You have not been genuine in saying “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 you are not fulfilling its conditions. In addition, you are not one of the elite so that gold and clay would be one and the same in your sight. What are you then exactly? How could we remember you and count you when you do not belong to the former or the latter? You would like me to praise you for something that you do not have so that your lower self would be happy and you would be pleased with me and give me presents! You are unworthy of respect! I speak the truth and do not fear the criticism of anyone. I am in attack and retreat between the creatures and the Creator, between the One who does not forget and those who forget, between the One who acts with precision and those who do not. You are ignorant, what have you to do with me? Do not be my enemy, otherwise you will perish. Do not be one of those who show enmity to what they are ignorant of. You have been ignorant of what I am involved in so you became my enemy. But I do not care at all about you and your enmity.
* Among the people of Allah is one who once he has come to need only Allah (mighty and glorified is He), to the exclusion of all creatures and everything on the earth, He tires him with children and with the task of providing for them to cause him to return to the creatures and accept things from them so that taking from them will be a mercy to them. His poverty will be outward, whereas his affluence will be inward. His affluence will be secret, whereas his poverty will be public. Allah exposes them (these people) to whatever states He wishes while they keep silent, adhering to ultimate politeness. He shows them first the Book and the Sunna, so they put them into practice and become pious. Then He shows them the Messenger (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) in their dreams who tells them to do this and that and to refrain from doing this and that. They then see their Lord (mighty and glorified is He) in their dreams and He orders them to carry out certain things and refrain from doing others. They are then promoted from one degree to another, from one book to another, from one abode to another, and from one form of remembrance to another.
The believer sees all creatures as one person who is ill, powerless, and unable to bring benefits to himself or drive any harm away from it. He hates those creatures that disobey Him and loves those who obey Him. He complies with His Lord (mighty and glorified is He) in his love and hatred. He does not love the creatures for their giving and does not hate them for their withholding. He does not love and hate for the sake of his lower self and passion. He is detached from his lower self. He does not comply with it except in matters that are works of obedience to Allah (mighty and glorified is He). He keeps this world away from his heart. He is always committed to the religion of His Lord (mighty and glorified is He), observing its laws and supporting it.
* O young man, when the servant knows the True One (mighty and glorified is He), He draws his heart completely near, rewards him with everything, confers on him the ultimate intimacy, and bestows on him the ultimate honor. Once he gets used to these, He takes them away from him, leaves him empty‑handed, sends him back to his lower self, and establishes a veil between Himself and him in order to test him and see how he will respond: Will he escape? Will he deviate or remain steadfast? If he stands firm, He removes the veil from him and returns him to his previous situation. Have you not seen how the father puts his son to the test? He sends him out of his house, locks the door in his face, and waits to see what he does. If he finds that his son kept to the doorstep, did not go to his neighbor, did not complain about him, and did not abandon polite behavior, he reopens the door, allows him in, embraces him, and honors him more than before.
Anyone who does not act with sincerity will not earn a single atom of the nearness to Allah (mighty and glorified is He). Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has said in one of his utterances: “I release the partners that are attributed to Me from all obligations of this partnership. If someone dedicates an action to Me and to a partner that he associated with Me, I leave it for the alleged partner as I do not accept anything other than what was for the sake of My face.” The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “The hypocrite will be told on the Day of Resurrection: ‘O perfidious one, O infidel, ask for the reward from whom you have dedicated your work to’”! O worshippers of other than your Lord (mighty and glorified is He), have you not heard His (high is He) following words: “I have not created the jinn and the human beings but to worship Me” (51.56), these words of His (high is He): “And they were commanded to worship one Godonly” (from 9.31), and His (high is He) following saying: “And they were only commanded to worship Allah, devoting religion sincerely to Him” (from 98.5)?
Every servant must worship his Lord (mighty and glorified is He) seeking His face and His satisfaction, not for the sake of a certain purpose or for receiving rewards. Anyone of you who fails to be sincere to Allah in his public life, let him worship privately, so that no eye of a creature will see him and no ear will hear his recitation [of the Holy Qur’an] and his glorification of Allah. Dissimulation is a grave matter. It is reported that one of the people of Allah has said: “If a person prayed in a dark house but was seen by a powerless, poor slave who is unable to do anything whatsoever, it would be as if he performed his prayer to impress the slave and, therefore, he would have performed it without any sincerity.”
O you who refrain from charitable spending! Have you not heard His (mighty and glorified is He) following words: “And [those who] spend of what We have bestowed on them” (from 2.3)? He means spending their money on the family, the children, and the poor. The niggard is deprived, expelled, and distant from the creatures and the Creator. Ask your Lord to provide for you from His favors. Ask Him for help whether He answers you or not, for asking Him for help is in itself an act of worship. Asking Him for help takes the form of calling in the case of remoteness, the form of private conversation in the case of nearness, and the form of silent gesture in the case of love. The person who is at a distance asks for help, crying out: “O King, give me, bring me near!” One who has come close and attained to Him converses with Him privately in a low voice at difficult times for he is near to Him. And one who has sat beside Him is overwhelmed by His majesty so he guards his tongue and speaks only by signs. The Muslim is in a state of remoteness, so he calls out and shouts; the believer who has become a knower is in a state of nearness, so he privately converses with Him with utter politeness; while the beloved, whose heart has arrived at the chamber of nearness, speaks only through silent gesture. May Allah bestow mercy on anyone who comprehends what I am saying, puts it into practice, removes from his heart any doubt about me and about my words, and submits to his Lord (mighty and glorified is He) what he does not understand and is beyond his knowledge.
The people of Allah have faith, believe, put their knowledge into practice, work with sincerity, and spend their money in the service of the righteous. In order to spend their money on good causes, they bring forth arguments to silence their objecting lower selves. They spend their money sometimes as obligatory alms, sometimes as a voluntary charitable donation, sometimes altruistically, sometimes in fulfillment of vows, and sometimes by swearing an oath to donate money. They do all this as a means to draw near to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) due to the strength of their hearts and certitude and their subjugation of their lower selves. Some of them are ordered to donate some of what they have, so they obey the command of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), whereas others hand out rewards without being aware of what they are doing. The saints are commanded to give to the poor and needy, whereas the spiritual substitutes have their money taken from their hands while they are completely unaware. It is related that one of the people of Allah was one day praying in a desert when one of a group of passing travelers took his cloak and then put it back on his shoulder. When the man finished his prayer, the traveler who took his cloak said to him: “Forgive my guilt in taking your cloak and annoying you.” The man replied: “By Allah, I did not feel anything when you took it or when you returned it. If you want to take it, go ahead and take it.”
The people of Allah are unaware of anything other than what they are involved in. When they stand in the presence of their Lord (mighty and glorified is He), they become totally unaware of anything other than Him. The essence becomes absent and only the appearance remains present; the heart becomes absent and the body remains present. When one of the people of Allah — Muslim bin Yassar1 (may Allah show mercy to him) — would enter his house, his children used to stop behaving joyfully and become well‑behaved so that no one of them would even laugh. He recognized their state of restraint, so whenever he wanted to pray he used to say to them: “Do what you like and give up your restraint for I will not be aware of what you do.” So, when he starts praying they play, relax, and laugh, while he is totally unaware of what they did. One day he was praying in the mosque when a column of the building and parts of the roof that it supports collapsed beside him but he did not realize what happened. On another occasion, a fire broke out in his house while he was praying, so people gathered and put it out but he did not take notice of what took place.
The people of Allah totally belong to the True One (mighty and glorified is He). They are wholly devoted to helping the creatures, and the Creator supports them. They spend of the worldly property that they have in their hands and of the Knowledge in their hearts. They have found the greatest treasure so this world lost its importance in their eyes. They have seen the greatest kingdom, so the kingdom of this world has become worthless in their view. They have renounced every created thing, so their hearts have been given the favor of “‘be,’ and it is.”
As long as this outward thing is in your hand and your heart is embracing it, you will have nothing of the favor of “‘be,’ and it is.” One of the people of Allah was asked: “Where do you obtain your food from?” He replied: “From the big threshing floor.” It was asked: “What is the big threshing floor?” He replied: “‘be,’ and it is.”
When it comes to worldly matters, look to those who are inferior to you, whereas with matters of the hereafter look up to those who are superior to you. It is reported about one of the people of Allah that on the day of celebration (Eīd) he bought broad beans and sat to eat them. He said: “Could there be anyone in a situation similar to mine, on such a day eating only broad beans without even oil or salt?” He then turned his head just to see someone eating the peels that he was throwing aside. So he wept and apologized to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) about what he said.
* How few those who seek the face of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) and His nearness are! Seeing Him is the delight of the eyes of the knowers and the lovers. Seeing Paradise, living in it with the houris, eating, and drinking are consolation for the eyes of the ascetics. What a huge difference there is between the two groups! How far they are from each other! O you who wish for this world, you have wasted your lifetime on nothing! And O you who wish for Paradise, the houris, and the youths of Paradise, you have wished for something other than your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and you have chosen something other than Him! If you had any knowledge you would not have enjoyed being absent from His presence even for a single moment. Woe to you, You do not know! Woe to you! The joy of one look at the True One (mighty and glorified is He) encompasses all of the youths, pleasures, lustful desires, and bliss of Paradise put together, so what of the delight of so many looks for hours?
* Give up your illusion. This business [of attaining to Allah] cannot be achieved by pretense, wishful thinking, and tongue‑wagging. If you are sitting in front of this plate and at this spring, then eat and drink, and feed and offer drink to others. But if you have only heard of it, then keep silent. Do not talk about something you have not seen. Do not invite people to someone else’s party. Do not invite people to an empty house because they would laugh at you. Shoot for us an arrow from your own quiver. Spend on us from your earnings, from what you earn by the sweat of your brow. Do not feed us from the yield that you have stolen from your neighbors. Do not offer us clothes that you have borrowed. We do not accept the gifts from a borrower, usurper. The belief in the oneness of God is a scorching fire. “O fire, be coolness and safety!” (from 21.69). O Allah, grant us the goodness of this day and protect us from its evil, and grant us the same for all nights and days! Amen.
* Do not argue with Him citing His destiny. Work hard, be diligent, dedicate yourselves to Him, ask for His help, weep, ask for intercession, behave with submissiveness, stand firm at the door, and do not run away. All matters are in Allah’s (mighty and glorified is He) hand. He is the One who awakens, grants success, and gives warning. He is the One who awakens you, and he is the One who puts you to sleep. When our Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) heard the private conversation of the True One (mighty and glorified is He): “O you covered [in the mantle!]. Arise and warn” (74.1‑2), he got up from bed and went out wandering, searching for Him. Similarly, when the believer hears the private conversation of the True One (mighty and glorified is He), he responds to Him, wanders searching for Him, and longs for Him. He awakens the hearts and shows them the way to Him.
When Allah (high is He) wants you to do something, He prepares you for it. This is an inward matter. It is what is referred to by destiny, foreordination, and foreknowledge. We are not allowed to depend on this and use it as an argument against making serious efforts, but we have to work hard, be diligent, do not pretend to be ill, and do not be lazy. O Allah, make us satisfied with Your decree, grant us patience with Your affliction, and enable us to thank You for Your favor! We ask You to give us Your full favor, the permanence of well‑being, and steadfastness in love.
Ibrāhīm ibn Adham2 (may Allah, high is He, show mercy to him) is reported to have said: “Once I stayed up all night praying to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) with all kinds of supplication and was weeping. When the dawn was about to break, my eyelids drooped. While asleep, I saw Allah (mighty and glorified is He) who said: ‘O Ibrahim, you are not praying to Me in the best way! Say: “O Allah, make us satisfied with Your decree, grant us patience with Your affliction, and enable us to thank You for Your favor! We ask You to give us Your full favor, the permanence of well‑being, and steadfastness in love”’. Then I woke up while I was repeating it.”
The servant who has truly accomplished servitude is one who is content with his Lord to the exclusion of all creatures, satisfied with his spiritual state to the exclusion of the spiritual states of others, and content with his Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) to the exclusion of all other prophets (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them). He becomes in need of nothing, whereas things need him. The people of Allah do not ask Allah (mighty and glorified is He) for other than Allah Himself. They ask for the Benefactor not the benefit, the Creator not the creature. They run away from food, drink, clothes, sexual intercourse, and the strife for worldly things. They escape to Him from those things. They worship Him for His sake not for the fodder of their lower selves. They do not worship Him for the abode of the Day of Resurrection. They say: “We do not find happiness in mercy. We do not wish for mercy, but we wish for solitude with the Beloved with no mercy.”
* O young men, do not cut yourselves off from the bliss that I have explained to you by running after your allotted shares of this world! Give up running after them and then they will start chasing you. This is something I have experienced and seen and has been seen by others who followed this path. Do not rush things for nothing that has been allocated to you will miss you. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “The soul will not leave this world until it has obtained all its allotted sustenance. So, be pious to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and do not be greedy when you ask Him for what you need.” Stop! Do not be over keen on obtaining what you want. Do not run after things but be steadfast. Be careful when you ask for something, if you really have to ask. If you turn away from the door of the kings, a door that will never be locked will be opened to you. This is the door of the innermost being, the door of the inward which will be opened for you without the intervention of your might, strength, or thinking.
The believer is one who left the house of his lower self, natural inclination, and passion, heading to his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). While he is in this state, tribulations that hit him, his family, and his property will obstruct his way. He will first stop in confusion. Then he will look back at his sins and impolite behavior in violating the limits of the Law of his Lord (mighty and glorified is He), so he will repent, give up asking “why” and “how,” stop protesting and disputing outwardly and inwardly, surrender, fall prostrate, and refrain from trying to tackle the barrier that is in front of him with only his own effort and toil. He will not seek to remove it with anything other than his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). He will focus completely on remembering Allah, returning to Him, remembering his sins, asking for them to be forgiven, and blaming his lower self. Once he has done all of that, he will refer to the destiny that his Lord (mighty and glorified is He) has preordained and say: “The destiny of Allah, His decree, and His foreordination about me will have to pass.” He will then return to submission and reliance by the heart not the tongue. While he is in this state, with his eyes closed in reflection, he will open his eyes suddenly to find that the barrier has gone, the door is open, favors have replaced the tribulations, affluence has replaced hardship, well‑being has replaced illness, and kingship has replaced destruction. All this confirms Allah’s (mighty and glorified is He) following saying: “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).
The true servant continues to respond to the favors with thankfulness and to affliction with compliance, admitting his crimes and sins and blaming the lower self, until the footsteps of his heart lead him to his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). He keeps on walking with the steps of good works and repentance from bad deeds until he arrives to the door of his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). He continues to step forward with thankfulness on the favors and patience on afflictions until he arrives to the door of his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). Once he is there, he will face what no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and has never occurred to any human being. When the heart of the servant arrives at the door of his Lord (mighty and glorified is He), the bout of good works, bad deeds, thankfulness, patience, tiredness, and hardship comes to an end, like the footsteps of the traveler come to a halt when he arrives to his destination and house. What remains after that is the sitting together, intimacy, conversation, direct seeing, and viewing the secrets. When the lover arrives to his Beloved (mighty and glorified is He), could there still be any tiredness? Tiredness turns into comfort, remoteness into nearness, absence into presence, and the hearing of news into direct seeing. He will come to view His secrets. He will take His servant on a tour in His house and He will open for him His treasures and show him His garden. Can you not comprehend this? “And Allah strikes parables for people” (from 14.25). It is the people of signs who understand the signs.
* When I was a little boy, I used to go alone to unpopulated places where I would sometimes hear a voice without seeing a figure. The voice would utter: “O you who are blessed, you are good and you will meet goodness!” I used to stand and roam the place around me without discovering where the voice was coming from. With all praise due to Allah (mighty and glorified is He), I did enjoy blessings in all of my circumstances.
Among the servants of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) are those who say for something “‘be,’ and it is,” but you cannot see them, and if you see them you would not recognize them and you would lock your doors shut in their faces and tighten your purses and pockets so that you do not give them anything.
* When the believer who has become a knower closes the eyes of his head, the eyes of his heart open wide, so he sees the reality of the creatures. When the eyes of his heart close, the eyes of his innermost being open wide so he sees the True One (mighty and glorified is He) and His management of the creation. When the Creator becomes present, the creatures leave. When the hereafter becomes present, this world leaves. When truthfulness becomes present, the telling of lies leaves. When sincerity becomes present, polytheism leaves. When faith becomes present, hypocrisy leaves. Everything has an opposite.
The sensible person looks at the ultimate consequences and does not look at this world and its adornment for it will soon pass away. This world is continuously changing and is ephemeral. You will pass away and then it will disappear after you. Do not run away from the company of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) because of the tribulations that He subjects you to, for He knows about your best interests far better than you.
* As for the exceptions, they are a few individuals among His creatures. He created them for something that is beyond the limits of the normal. He created them for a purpose that He knows. He created them for His company, deputyship, ambassadorship, and guidance of His creatures to Him. He sends them to the East, West, and sea. They address the creatures in their own languages. He appointed them as His deputies among the creatures. They do not wish for life or death, for they are totally extinct in Him that they have no will of their own. Their wills have died, their lower selves have come to rest, their passions have been broken, the fires of their natural inclinations have died out, their devils have been defeated, and this world has surrendered in submission to them and lost any influence on them. In other words, they have left nothing to be blamed for. These are the rarest of the rare. No love for anyone other than Him is left in their hearts. They are the beloved of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) and the ones He chose from His creatures.
* The people of Allah have inherited the spiritual states of the prophets (Allah’s prayer and peace be on them). They have inherited their spiritual stations, not their names and titles. They have inherited the qualities and virtues that they had. The saints and spiritual substitutes are restricted to a certain number that does not increase or decrease. Among them is one who attains his spiritual status early in his life, whereas another attains his spiritual status in the latter part of his life. Before the attainment of the latter, his states continuously change, although he is a confirmed saint of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) in Allah’s (mighty and glorified is He) foreknowledge, for infallibility is not a prerequisite for spiritual substitution and sainthood. There is no infallibility after the time of the prophets as infallibility is one of their unique attributes (Allah’s prayer and peace be on them). It is reported that the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “When one of the saints of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) disobeys Allah, the angels (Allah’s prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on them) laugh and say to one another: ‘Look at this saint of Allah, see how he is disobeying Allah (mighty and glorified is He)’”! How could not they be astonished at his disobedience, disbelief, remoteness, and hypocrisy when they know that in a few days he will become a beloved saint; one who is drawn near, honored, and purified; an intercessor; a guide; and an heir?
* I have renounced you, my lower self, and my allotted worldly shares. Blessed I am! I do not eat, drink, dress up, have sexual intercourse, or show off. Blessed I am! I have been made to stand aside from you and I have taken advice from signs without the need for verbal instructions. I hate seeing the hypocrites, disobedient ones, and those who associate partners with Allah, but I have to see them. They are ill people and I have been made a healer. The believer who is still a beginner in faith cannot look at anyone of these people or share with him a moment of time. When he happens to see a hypocrite, disobedient person, or polytheist he becomes angry at him and if it was in his power, he would kill him. One of the people of Allah (may Allah show mercy to him) used to become so angry to the point of falling to the ground when he sees a disbeliever. He used to pass out as a result of the enormity of his undivided loyalty to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and his anger for His sake that one of His servants should fail to believe in Him. No doubt, this believer was a novice, because the start is characterized by weakness and the end by strength.
One of the people of Allah (may Allah show mercy to him) is reported to have said: “No one laughs in the face of a hypocrite other than the knower.” The knower recognizes the graveness of the illness of the hypocrite and knows his treatment, so he smiles in his face saying: “Yes, your medicine is with me; so come.” He speaks to him with nice words in order to attract him, make him work with him, and make him feel close to him. Once he has become in charge of him, he cures his illness. He introduces him to Islam and faith and describes them to him. He introduces him to the words of his Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and guarantees to him reconciliation with Him. Day after day, his disbelief, hypocrisy, and disobedience melt away. The illness of his heart dissolves, his wounds heal, and his lower self is discarded. Both his outward and inward reform, without any quarrel or dispute, without a stab or blow.
Jesus, the son of Mary, and John, the son of Zechariah, (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on them) used to glorify the Lord in the wilderness. When the night sets, John would go to the village of the believers, whereas Jesus would go to the village of the disbelievers. John approached the believers because of the weakness of his spiritual state, whereas Jesus went near to the disbelievers because of the strength of his spiritual state, so that he could preach to them, warn them, and take them by the hand to the door of their Lord (mighty and glorified is He). One liked to pray and fast in the midst of believers, whereas the other liked to summon the people to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and His worship. The knower is a reminder and his worship is to call the creatures to Allah (mighty and glorified is He). His relation with Allah (mighty and glorified is He) remains on this basis. The Muslim is a worker, and the believer is a foreman; the knower is a builder, and the person who is knowledgeable of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) is a roads engineer.
* If you are not among the people of Allah, then serve them, accompany them, sit in their presence, draw near to them, make your money available for their use, and follow them by emulating their works, not by quoting, applauding, and expressing astonishment at their words. Make sure that your heart not your clothes is the abode of your righteousness. Dress as common people do but do not do what they do. Monasticism is not to be defined with relation to food, clothing, and sex. Allah (high is He) has said: “And monasticism they invented — We did not ordain for them” (from 57.27). The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “There is no monasticism in Islam.”
As for those who are sincere in their belief in the oneness of God, their cells are their hearts. Their austerity is imposed on their lower selves, passions, and natural inclination. The fruit that they enjoy is loneliness and the visions they see. Their feeling of intimacy with their Lord (mighty and glorified is He) lies in the private conversation with Him. The True One (mighty and glorified is He) informs you about the spiritual state of the righteous through me in order for you to join and emulate them. So do not only hear these words. He uses my tongue to inform you in order for you to inform one another, so pay heed to the good advice. He calls you through me, so respond to His caller. He calls you to purity. He calls you to renounce His creatures and to wish for Him. He calls you to remember Him so that you become remembered in His presence. The servant who is truthful in seeking his Master (mighty and glorified is He) continues to remember Him outwardly and inwardly, in both his private and public lives, by night and day, in hardship and prosperity, in bliss and agony, until he becomes remembered in His presence. He hears his remembrance of Him (mighty and glorified is He) around him and in his heart.
You are in a deep sleep, unaware of the bliss of the people of Allah. O you who are forgetful of the bliss, you are unaware, absent, and unconscious! While you are knowledgeable in dealing with the affairs of this world, you are totally ignorant about the affairs of the hereafter. You are bogged down in mud, so the more you move the more you sink. Stretch out your hands to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) while being truthful in your seeking Him, repentance, and apology so that He will rescue you from your situation.
I am calling on you to stand firm against your lower selves, passions, natural inclinations, and lustful desires and to endure with patience the loss of worldly things. Respond to my call and then you will sooner or later come to see the results. I am calling you to the red death in the name of Allah. Who will attack? Who will advance? Who will dare? Who will take the risk? It is death that is followed by an everlasting life.
Do not escape. Force patience on yourselves when you are still impatient, and when you have become patient, endure with patience. Courage is an hour’s patience. Equip yourselves with the patience required for compliance with your Lord (mighty and glorified is He). When any of you carries the burden of the divine decree with satisfaction, Allah (mighty and glorified is He) will relieve him of it and write his name in the record of the brave. Anyone who takes risk with himself will gain certitude. When one knows what he is seeking, he sees whatever he has to do as being insignificant. O servant of God, stand firm in your places and do not rush! Come on the foot of truthfulness to knock at the door of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) and do not leave until the door is opened for you and processions have come out to welcome you. Be impudent when asking Him to provide your needs, for this is better in His eyes than your asking with impertinence your kings, your sultans, and the rich among you. Emulate your predecessors in their quest for their Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and their extinction in Him.
O Allah, You are our Lord and their Lord, our Creator and their Creator, our Provider and their Provider, so treat us as You treated them! Bring us out toward You. Make us pin no hopes on the kings and the servants, the sultans and their subjects, the rich and the poor, the elite and common people, the rise and fall of market prices, and abundance and scarcity. Remind us of Your remembrance, be kind to us in Your actions, draw us close to your nearness, and make our hearts feel Your intimacy. Protect us from the evil of Your countries and Your servants, and from the evil of every moving creature that You hold by the forelock.3 Protect us from the evil of the evildoers and from the scheming of the infidels. Include us among Your party who is traveling to You, seeking the way to You, calling others to You, submitting with humility to You, and treating with arrogance those who are arrogant with You and with the believers of Your creatures. Amen.
* If you learn for the sake of this world you will end up working for this world, and if you learn for the sake of the hereafter you will end up working for the hereafter. The branch is an outcome of the root. You will be rewarded according to your behavior. Every vessel exudes its own contents. You fill your vessel with tar, yet you expect rose water to ooze out of it! You are unworthy of respect! You work for this world in this world, yet you wish that the hereafter will be yours tomorrow! You are unworthy of respect! You work for the sake of the creatures, yet you hope that tomorrow you will have the Creator on your side, have His nearness, and enjoy looking at Him! You are unworthy of respect! This is the obvious rule that applies to most people. However, if He wishes to give you His rewards out of His generosity not in return for work you did, then it is up to Him.
Listen to me and comprehend what I have to say, for I am a servant of the predecessors. I serve in their presence, spread out their goods, and call on people to view them. I do not betray them or claim that the goods are mine. I praise their words. Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has qualified me for this through the blessing of my following of the Messenger (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) and my filial devotion to my father and mother (may Allah, high is He, show mercy to them). My father renounced this world despite his ability to earn a lot in it, and my mother agreed with him on that and was pleased with his action. They were among the people of righteousness, religion, and compassion for the creatures. However, I am not concerned with them or with the creatures. I am only concerned with the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) and the Sender. It is through them that I gain my goodness. My favors are with them and in their presence. I do not wish for anyone of the creatures other than Muhammad (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him), and I do not wish for any lord other than my Lord (mighty and glorified is He).
1 A famous jurist (died 718). He was originally from Mecca but lived in Basra.
2 A well‑known Sufi (ca. 718‑778). He was born in Mecca when his parents came from Khurāsān for pilgrimage.
3 This is a reference to this verse: “I have put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord. There is no creature that crawls but He takes it by the forelock. Certainly, My Lord is on a straight Path” (11.56).
Copyright © 2008 Shetha Al-Dargazelli & Louay Fatoohi
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