Sep 182014

This is the first letter from “Fifteen Letters (Khamsata ‘Ashara Maktuban)


O dear one!

When the lightnings of direct witnessing1 flash from the clouds of the emanation of:

Allah guides to His Light whom He wills, (24.35)

—and the winds of the union of love blow from the windward of the care of:

He chooses for His mercy whom He wills,2 (2.105)

—the fragrant plants of close rapport will flower in the gardens of the hearts,3

—and the nightingales of longing will chant in the orchards of the spirits with the tones of:

Alas, my grief for Joseph! (12.84)

—and the fires of yearning will burn in the stoves of the innermost beings.4

The wings of the flying thoughts will become too tired in the space of greatness in its pursuit of the destination of the flight,

—the greatest minds will go astray in the deserts of spiritual knowledge,

—and the foundations of the cornerstones of understanding will shake from the shock of the majesty.5

The ships of determination will sail in the depths of the seas of:

They did not value Allah as He should be valued6 (39.67)

—by the winds of:

As it floated on with them amid waves like mountains,7 (11.42)

—and when the waves of the sea of the all-engrossing love of:

He loves them and they love Him, (5.54)

—collide, everyone will call in the tongue of the spiritual state

O my Lord! Disembark me with a blessed disembarking, and you are the best to disembark.8 (23.29)

So the predestined care of:

They for whom We have preordained good things (21.101)

—will reach them, and it will disembark them on the shore of the Jūdī9 of:

A seat of truth. (54.55)

It will take them to the assembly of the intoxicated of:

Am I not your Lord? (7.172)

—it will spread for them the tablecloth of the feast of the bliss of:

For those who do good there will be good and more, (10.26)

—and it will pass around to them the cups of attainment from the casks of nearness by the hands of the cupbearers of:

And their Lord shall provide them with pure drink,10 (76.21)

—so they will be honored with an everlasting kingdom and the sovereignty of:

And if you look far you shall see bliss and a great kingdom.11 (76.20) 



1Shuhūd (direct witnessing)” is a spiritual state in which the person has direct revelatory experiences.
2 This and the previous verse emphasize that Allah chooses whom to grant this spiritual favor to.
3 The flashes of direct witnessing and the whiffs of the union with the Lover are not permanent, but they leave the heart with the unique experience of intimate friendship.
4 Having tasted intermittently that unparalleled experience, the heart now cannot stand the separation and wants that experience permanently. The pain of separation is reminiscent of prophet Jacob’s pain when he lost his beloved son prophet Joseph. The term “sirr (innermost being)” denotes the deepest and most secret part of man.
5Maʿrifa (spiritual knowledge)” is an experientially acquired spiritual form of knowledge that is beyond the comprehension of even the greatest brains. It is not something that can be attained or understood by reason but it can become accessible only to the sound heart. Spiritual knowledge is a fruit of piety: “And be pious toward Allah and Allah shall teach you” (2.282).
6 But the seeker is determined to continue his pursuit of that intimate closeness to Allah, knowing that He is worthy of every effort, and being aware of and avoiding the failure of those who underestimated Allah.
7 This journey of salvation is similar to that of prophet Noah, which Allah commanded him to make and subtly directed.
8 As he negotiates the difficulties of sailing in the sea of divine love, he prays to Allah to guide him to the shore of His acceptance.
9 Exegetes think that “the Jūdī” is the name of the mountain on which Noah’s arch settled.
10 Allah will then land the seekers safely as He guided Noah’s arch to the Jūdī.
Allah then admits them into the company of those who are intoxicated with His love. They will be served unique food and drink that are available only to those who attain nearness to Him.
11 This turn of fortune and honor from Allah will be everlasting.

Copyright © 2014 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Sep 162014

This article is from “Fifteen Letters (Khamsata ‘Ashara Maktuban)

This is not the first English translation of this book. It was first translated in 1997 by Muhtar Holland, the outstanding translator of many of Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jilan’s works into English. Mr Holland used one manuscript from the Databank der Orientalischen Handschriften der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany. In my editing and translation of the text I have used three manuscripts, one at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, UK, the second in the Special Collections Library at Michigan University, USA, and the third in King Saud University in Saudi Arabia.

Translating a mystical work like this is a big challenge. The meaning of the text is often subtle, deep, and open to interpretation. The task of translation is not made any easier by the fact that the Arabic text is itself a translation from the original Persian. But as I explained earlier, the fact that the text consists of short sentences each followed by a Qur’anic verse makes the job of the translator easier. Unsurprisingly, Holland’s translation and mine show differences in understanding various parts of the text.

The style of the writing has resulted in a translation structure like this: words of the Shaikh + of: + Qur’anic verse. I have used the character “—” to indicate that the text on a new line continues the preceding text. This is an example:

Be afraid of:

The Day on which the person flees from his brother, mother, father, spouse, and sons, (80.34-36)

—and think of the reckoning of:

Whether you show what inside your souls or hide it Allah will reckon with you for it. (2.284)

I have used “of” to link the Shaikh’s words to the verse they precede, instead of using something like “that is mentioned in the following verse” which is too verbose. This means that the transition from the end of the Shaikh’s words to the beginning of the verse is often not smooth linguistically but completely natural and elegant at the level of the meaning.

Each pair of words of the Shaikh and the verse that follows them has a concept that is present in both the Shaikh’s words and the verse. The Shaikh’s words explain the verse, and the verse explains what the Shaikh meant. So in the example above, the Shaikh is talking about a particular “call” that he quotes a specific verse to elucidate.

To retain the tone of the original text while at the same time presenting it in a way that is easy to read, I have put the long conjunctive sentences on separate lines. To make it easy to distinguish between the Qur’anic text and the Shaikh’s words, I have used a different font for the former and placed each verse on a separate line.

Copyright © 2014 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Sep 152014

This article is from “Fifteen Letters (Khamsata ‘Ashara Maktuban)

With the exception of the second letter in “M,” which starts with the expression “O dear servant (ayyuhā al-ʿabd al-ʿazīz),” and the thirteen letter in “B,” which starts with “O brother (ayyuhā al-akh),” both of which look to be copying mistakes, every letter starts with the addressing formula of “O dear one (ayyuhā al-ʿazīz)”. This is reminiscent of the expression “O young man (yā ghulām)” which Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir often used in his lectures. These two forms address the listener or reader in general and do not refer to a specific person.

Articulated in a highly mystical language, the letters describe spiritual experiences that are attained through striving against one’s base desires and committed devotion to Allah. They are written in a peculiar style whereby each sentence or group of sentences is followed by a related Qur’anic text, which is often a part of a verse. For instance, the Shaikh may mention a state of bliss that the believer will receive and then follows his statement by a verse that talks about the bliss in paradise.

The Qur’an is quoted in 267 places in the fifteen letters. At times, more than one verse is quoted in a location, so in total 279 verses are quoted. Some verses occur more than once, making the number of unique verses in the text 225.

The text, in effect, is a Sufi experiential interpretation of the quoted Qur’anic verses. This peculiar style of consistent pairing of mystical words of the Shaikh with a Qur’anic verse has produced an immensely beautiful text with a highly poetic tone. Often several pairings are connected with “and,” which is a common practice in Arabic. This uniquely charming, poetic, and experiential way of interpreting the Qur’an forced me to put aside my other writing projects to edit an Arabic edition of the book and do this translation. It is something that I have immensely enjoyed doing.

The mystical language of Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jilānī speaks of spiritual experiences that words could do so much to describe, and the reader who has had no such experiences can at best hope to understand them only partially. This is why I have added a commentary to the text, but I have also kept it succinct and focused on my understanding of the main points of the text without any attempt to delve deeper into it. This should reduce the possibility of any misunderstanding that is likely to happen as a result of any further elaboration. I have not commented on any text that I found to be clear enough. Having been added as footnotes, the comments should not get into the way of reading the text alone without the commentary.

Any translation is an act of interpretation, so translating the Arabic text is in effect interpreting the understanding of the translator of that original Persian text. However, the fact that the words of the Shaikh consist of short sentences that are effectively interpreting clearly quoted Qur’anic verses makes it easier for the translator and limits the extent of any misunderstanding.

Copyright © 2014 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Sep 152014

This biography is taken from “Fifteen Letters (Khamsata ‘Ashara Maktuban)

Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jilānī was born in 470 H. (1077 CE). Old sources claim that he was born in “Gaylān” in the north of today’s Iran.1 But recently it has been suggested that he was in fact born in a village called “al-Jīl” near the city of Madā’in 40 kilometers south of Baghdad.2 That the current work was originally written in Persian seems to support the mainstream view that he came from Iran. Either way, this is why he is known as “al-Gaylānī,” “al-Jīlānī,” or “al-Jīlī.”

Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir was born to very pious parents both of whom descended from Prophet Muhammad (prayer and peace be upon him). His father and mother are from the lineage of al-Imām al-Ḥasan and al-Imām al-Ḥusain, respectively. He received his first religious education at home before migrating to Baghdad at the age of eighteen to continue his learning and start what turned out to be a unique and amazing spiritual journey. References to only his mother advising him before he left his home town suggests that he had lost his father by the time he headed to Baghdad.

Baghdad was then the capital of the Abbasid caliphate and, more importantly, it was a center of knowledge and education that was vibrant with spiritual and intellectual activities. But this was also a period of political upheaval, with the crusaders in action in Palestine, Syria, and Antakya in Turkey, and Baghdad at the mercy of the neighboring Turkish and Seljuq Sultans.

In Baghdad, Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir first accompanied the Sufi Shaikh Ḥammād al-Dabbās (d. 525/1131), and later Shaikh Abū Saʿīd al-Mukharramī (al-Makhzūmī). It has also been reported that Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir was a student of al-Imām Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (d. 505/1111), and that the Shaikh’s book al-Ghunia reflects influences by al-Ghazālī’s Iḥyā’ ʿUlūm al-Dīn.3 He also had other teachers.4

When Shaikh Abū Saʿīd saw how his student was developing, he asked him in 521/1127 to teach in his school. Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir used to lecture three days a week. His audience grew quickly until a lecture would attract tens of thousands. Many students used to write down his lectures, preserving the words of the Shaikh. He continued to preach in his school until his death in 561/1165.5 The fame that this school developed as a result of the respect and following that Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir had and its being his burial place guaranteed its status as one of the most revered and visited Islamic sites.

The Shaikh disapproved of the scholars and Shaikhs who built close ties with the rulers, visited them, or benefited from them, often at the cost of performing their religious duties properly. This is what he says in one of his sermons:

O backslider, you build relations with the sultans, the princes, and the rich seeking power and further worldly things, yet you do not do business with the King of kings, the Wealthiest of the wealthy, the One who never dies, the One who never becomes poor, the One who repays your loan to Him multiplied manifold!6

Nobilities and rulers still attended his lectures, while he did not spare them any criticism he had of how they governed.

The Shaikh went for pilgrimage to Mecca twice, the first time in 505/1112, when he was still little known. In this trip he met Shaikh ʿUdayy bin Musāfir (d. 557/1162). In his second in 555/1160 he met the famous Moroccan Shaikh Abū Midian (d. 594/1197). By then, Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir had become one of the most, if not the most, famous Sufi Shaikhs, with countless followers everywhere. His mother, who had come to live in Baghdad, is said to have been with her son on his second pilgrimage. If this account is historical, then reports that his mother conceived him when she was sixty years old are probably incorrect.7

There is no figure in the history of Sufism who has been linked to as many miracles as Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir. He is reported to have performed some miracles as one way to convey and support his teachings.

The influence of Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir on Muslims and his role in the spread of Islam are impossible to exaggerate. There are far more Sufi Tarīqās (Ways) whose chains of masters trace themselves back to him than any other Shaikh. Accordingly, the followers of Qādirī Ṭarīqas far outnumber the followers of any other Ṭarīqa. Sufis in general and Qādirīs in particular played a major role in spreading Islam in Asia and Africa.

Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir left a large number of sermons and writings. These include al-Ghunia li-Ṭālibī Ṭarī al-Ḥaq, al-Fatḥ al-Rabbānī wal-Faiḍ al-Raḥmānī, Futūḥ al-Ghaib, Jilā’ al-Khāṭir, Sir al-Asrār, and many more. As noted earlier, while he authored a lot of works, some were compiled by his students who attended his lectures.

Let’s read some of Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir’s words on a number of topics, starting with the following about love:

Woe to you! You claim to love Allah, yet you open up your hearts to others! Because Majnūn Laylā (the mad lover of Laylā) became truthful in his love for Laylā, his heart would not accept other than her. One day he came across some people who asked him: “Where have you come from?” He replied: “From being with Laylā.” They asked him: “Where are you going?” He answered: “To Laylā.”

Once the heart has become truthful in its love for Allah (mighty and glorified is He) it becomes like Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) about whom Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has said: “And We had caused him to refuse the wet-nurses” (28.12). Do not lie; you do not have two hearts but one, so once it is filled with something there is no room for another. Allah (high is He) has said: “Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his breast” (33.4) — a heart that loves the Creator and a heart that loves the creatures. There can be no heart in which this world and the hereafter coexist.8

He said about trust:

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

Surrender yourselves to your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and be satisfied with His management of your affairs. Give up your will and accept the destiny that your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) has decreed. Accept all of what destiny brings. Your Lord knows you better than you know yourselves. Accept His words with certitude. Receive His commandments and prohibitions with total acceptance. Receive His religion with all of your hearts, and make it your inner and outer covers.9

Here he criticizes the hypocrites:

Woe to you! How can you tell others to endure with patience when you are impatient? How can you tell him to give thanks in return for the favors when you have given up thankfulness? How can you tell him to be satisfied with the divine decree when you are dissatisfied? How can you tell him to renounce this world when you are full of desires about it? How can you tell him to yearn for the hereafter when you have renounced it? How can you tell him to trust Allah (mighty and glorified is He) when you have relied on other than Him? You are hated by the True One (mighty and glorified is He), the angels, and the hearts of the truthful and the righteous of His servants.10

This is how he encouraged spending on the poor:

O miserable one, when a poor person comes asking for a loan, go ahead and lend him and never say: “Who is going to give me?” You must disagree with your lower self and give him a loan, and after a while make it a donation to him. Among the poor is one who disapproves of begging for alms, preferring to ask for a loan, with every intention of paying it back. He has confidence in Allah (mighty and glorified is He), and on the basis of this confidence he borrows. So, if he approaches you for a loan, O wealthy one, lend him and never face him with a request to pay back, for this would further humiliate him. If a long time passed without you receiving any repayment, go to see him, ask him to accept that loan as a gift, and absolve him of his obligation. Thus, you will be rewarded for his first joy [when you gave him the loan] and for his second one [when you turned the loan into a gift.] The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) said: “A beggar at the door is a gift from Allah (mighty and glorified is He) to His servant.”

Woe to you! How can the beggar not be a gift from Allah (mighty and glorified is He) when he takes from your share in this world to add to your share in the hereafter? He saves something for you that you will find when you need it. The amount that you give him will vanish and disappear anyway, yet on account of giving it to him you will be promoted by several degrees in the eyes of Allah (mighty and glorified is He).11

He said on good manners:

The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) said: “Keep to good manners in your relationships with people so that when you are dead they pray for Allah to show mercy to you and when you are alive they yearn for you.” Heed to this good advice. Tie it to your hearts and do not forget it. It points out to you an easy work that carries much reward. How good fine manners are! They are a source of comfort to the person who has them and to others. How detestable are bad manners! They are a source of fatigue to the person who has them and a source of harm to others.12

Finally, this is what he had to say about humility:

Be humble and do not be arrogant. Humility raises people up, whereas arrogance brings them down. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) said: “When someone behaves with humility with Allah, Allah (mighty and glorified is He) raises him up.” Allah has some servants who do righteous works that are as great as the mountains, like the deeds of the predecessors, yet they humble themselves to Allah and say: “We have done nothing that can cause us to enter Paradise. If we would enter it, it would be by the mercy of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), and if He would deny us admission, it would be on account of His justice.” They continue to stand in His company on the foot of bankruptcy.13


1 Al-Dhahabī, Siyar Aʿlām al-Nubalā’, vol. 20, p. 439
2 Al-Gaylānī, Al-Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Gaylānī: Ru’ya Tārīkhiyya Muʿāṣira, p. 9. Also, al-Gaylānī, Jughrāfiyyat al-Bāz al-Ashhab.
3 Al-Gaylānī, Al-Shaikh ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Gaylānī, p. 12.
4 Al-Dhahabī, Siyar Aʿlām al-Nubalā’, vol. 20, p. 443.
5 Al-Dhahabī, Tarīkh al-Islām wa-Wafiyyāt al-Mashāhīr wal-Aʿlām, pp. 86-100.
6 Al-Jīlānī, Purification of the Mind (Jilā’ al-Khāṭir), p. 8.
7 Al-Tāfidhī. Qalā’id al-Jāwāhir, p. 3.
8 Al-Jīlānī, Purification of the Mind (Jilā’ al-Khāṭir), p. 16.
9 Al-Jīlānī, Purification of the Mind (Jilā’ al-Khāṭir), p. 24.
10 Al-Jīlānī, Purification of the Mind (Jilā’ al-Khāṭir), p. 36.
11 Al-Jīlānī, Purification of the Mind (Jilā’ al-Khāṭir), p. 106.
12 Al-Jīlānī, Purification of the Mind (Jilā’ al-Khāṭir), p. 149.
13 Al-Jīlānī, Purification of the Mind (Jilā’ al-Khāṭir), p. 157.

Copyright © 2014 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Mar 112008

This is the “Introduction” to Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)

The first edition of this translation came out in 1998. Ten years later, we are proud to present this much improved translation. One aspect of the improvement is that the first translation was too literal. The problem with that approach is that the original Arabic text is so metaphorical, poetic, and full of imagery. The revised translation also corrects a number of mistakes in the first attempt. Furthermore, we have removed any Arabic text, and only a small number of transliterations were left. As a result, the revised translation reads much better and is more faithful and accurate than the translation of the first edition. One other change we have made is to make the translated title, Purification of the Mind, the main title and the original Arabic title, Jila’ Al-Khatir, the subtitle, which is the opposite to what we did in the first edition. We think this is more appropriate given that the book is for English readers.

The book consists of 45 discourses that were given by Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani in his school in Baghdad. These discourses, like the ones found in some of his other books, would have been transcribed by some of his listener. There are a number of surviving manuscripts of the book.

Our translation is based on an edition of the Arabic book by Shaikh Muhammad Al-Kasnazani Al-Husseini and published in 1989 in Baghdad, Iraq. At the time, one of us took a small part in proofreading the edited text and finalizing it for printing. That edition relied on three copies of the manuscript in Iraq: one at the department of manuscripts of the Iraqi Museum, one at the Library of the Ministry of waqf and religious affairs, and the third at the Library of the Mosque of Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir al-Jilani. Before embarking on this revised translation, we checked the Iraqi Arabic source with a separate edition done by Khalid Az-Zar‘ī and ‘Abd An-Nāṣir Sirrī and published in 1994 by Dār Ibn Qayyim, Syria. This allowed us to improve the source text of our translation significantly by correcting mistakes and adding missing passages that were probably lost during the editorial work on the Iraqi edition. This improvement to the Arabic source has contributed to improving the translation.

Shaikh Al-Kasnazani Al-Husseini did not publish the manuscript in its original form but chose to classify the contents of the discourses into forty sections each of which deals with a specific subject, such as “patience,” “mercy,” “love”….etc. However, as each discourse covers a number of different topics, often in short statements, it was inevitable that such classification would be only very approximate. In fact, there are many instances where a paragraph that has been placed under a particular section could have been as appropriately, or may be even more accurately, put under a different one. These issues made us consider the possibility of canceling the classification and publishing the discourses in their original form in the second edition, but at the end we decided to leave the text as is for two reasons. First, although the classification is far from being accurate, it is still useful in clustering related sayings of the Shaikh. Second, the discourses have been published in their original form in both English and Arabic, so interested readers can consult those publications.

We also considered for the second edition removing some topics and adding their contents to other sections, as the contents had very little relation to the topics under which they were originally classified. However, it looks like the goal of introducing these topics, such as “pardoning,” is to emphasize their importance, so we decided not to change them.

In order to differentiate between consecutive paragraphs that belong to different discourses, we have left space between them. Additionally, we have started any paragraph that belongs to a different discourse from the one before it with the special symbol *.

As mentioned earlier, the language of Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir’s discourses are often permeated by symbolic references, metaphorical images, and poetic expressions. This is an example passage of this immensely beautiful use of the language which the Shaikh ends with a reference to the fact that Allah used in the Qur’an parables and symbolic language:

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.

This style, which is characteristic of Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir’s discourses, reflects a number of facts. First, the Shaikh often speaks about spiritual matters that are completely unfamiliar to the layperson and which the language is incapable of describing with accuracy. These, in the Shaikh’s words, are states, stations, visions, and experiences that “no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and has never occurred to any human being.” Second, the Shaikh’s words spring as much from his heart as from his mind, describing feelings as well as thoughts. He is forced to use common words to describe feelings that are known only to those who have had those spiritual experiences. No language is equipped enough to describe these feelings, in the same way that no words can assist in describing color to one born blind because it requires visual experience. Third, the Shaikh often speaks about secret and intimate spiritual issues that he does not want to or cannot fully disclose, thus wrapping his words in metaphors. This is how the master ends one of those descriptions:

This is something beyond the comprehension of the creatures. All that appears of it is merely an atom from its mountain, a drop from its sea, and a lamp from its sun. O Allah, I apologize to you for speaking about these secrets, but You know that I am overwhelmed. A certain righteous person once said: “Beware of what merits an apology.” But when I get up to sit on this chair [to preach], I become unaware of you [O people!] to the extent that no one is left in front of my heart to apologize to and restrict myself because of.

The words of Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir do not describe one spiritual state and are not targeted at one person. They paint a fascinating picture of a myriad of spiritual states and stations and apply to people of very different beginnings, paths, and ends. The destination is the same, but the routes are different. Also different wayfarers end their journeys at different points. What is good for someone might not good for another, and what is required of two different people might be completely different, even though both have the same goal. This is why understanding the Shaikh’s words and their applications is a science in its own right. As Sufis say: “The ways to Allah are as many as the creatures.”

The words of Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir remain as relevant to the seeker of the truth and nearness to God as they were when he uttered them almost one thousand years ago. For sure, the world has changed a lot, but man’s nature has not, and the diseases of his heart remain the same. The Shaikh’s words address these diseases and show man the way to salvation. His words lived a thousand years and will live to the day when this transient world is no more and is replaced by the permanent one.

Like all beacons of truth, Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir has been the target of attacks of the ignorant, the narrow-minded, and the misguided. As happened to others who understood Islam to be about works of the heart not acts of the body, this pious servant, whose life was fully dedicated to serving his Lord, has often been accused of distorting the message of Prophet Muhammad by those who wanted to hijack Islam and turn it into a spiritless, legalistic system to serve their worldly ambitions. But, as history has been confirming everyday, the voice of truth can never be silenced and the words of wisdom will remain inerasable.

It is ignorance of this fact, as well as mistaking falsehood for truth, that must have made some misguided individuals to use terrorism against the Shaikh as they bombed his shrine in Baghdad on 28th May 2007, damaging parts of it. These and similar criminals do not realize that what made great masters such as Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani live forever is not buildings that commemorate them or books written about them, but the teachings and examples they set that live in people’s minds and love for God that they helped them develop in their hearts. This is why almost one thousand years after his departure from this world people still feel immensely honored to serve the Shaikh and his sacred cause, including making his words more accessible to people.

Shetha Al-Dargazelli and Louay Fatoohi
Birmingham, UK, 2008



Mar 112008

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

Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani was born in Gilan,1 west of Iran, in 1077 CE to two well-known saints. He is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him) from both of his parents sides. His father, sayyid2 ‘Abdullah az-Zāhid, is son of sayyid Yaḥya, son of sayyid Muhammad, son of sayyid Dāwūd, son of sayyid Mūsā, son of sayyid ‘Abdullah, son of sayyid Mūsā Aj-Jūn, son of sayyid ‘Abdullah Al-Maḥdh, son of sayyid Al-Ḥasan Al-Muthanna, son of Imām3 Al-Ḥasan, son of Imām ‘Alī bin Abī Tālib, cousin of Prophet Muhammad, and sayyida Faṭima Az-Zahrā’, daughter of Prophet Muhammad.

Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani’s mother is Um Al-Khayer Faṭima, daughter of sayyid ‘Abdullah Aṣ-Ṣawma‘ī Az-Zāhid, son of sayyid Jamāl Ad-Dīn Muhammad, son of sayyid Maḥmūd, son of sayyid Abī Al-‘Atā’ ‘Abdullah, son of sayyid Kamāl Ad-Dīn ‘Īsa, son of Imām Abi ‘Alā’ Ad-Dīn Muhammad Aj-Jawād, son of Imām ‘Alī Ar-Ridhā, son of Imām Mūsā Al-Kādhim, son of Imām Ja‘far Aṣ-Ṣādiq, son of Imām Muhammad Al-Bāqir, son of Imām ‘Alī Zayn Al-‘Ābidīn, son of Imām Al-Ḥussein, son of Imām ‘Alī bin Abī Tālib and sayyida Faṭima Az-Zahrā’.

Both of Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir’s parents lived a pious life, in total detachment from this world, and in complete obedience to Allah. This is how they are described in the words of their saintly son: “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.”

Sayyid ‘Abdullah Az-Zāhid was renowned for having his prayers answered by Allah and for his accurate predictions of future events. Sayyid ‘Abdullah Aṣ-Ṣawma‘ī was also known for performing numerous miracles, so people used to ask for his spiritual intervention when they found themselves in distress. It is reported that one day a caravan of merchants from Gaylan was heading toward Samarkand when a group of bandits stopped it. The merchants could not do anything other than invoke the help of sayyid ‘Abdullah Aṣ-Ṣawma‘ī whom they suddenly saw among them reciting a prayer. The bandits then fled the place, and sayyid ‘Abdullah Aṣ-Ṣawma‘ī disappeared as suddenly as he appeared. When they returned to their home city and related the story to the people of Gaylan, they were told that sayyid ‘Abdullah Aṣ-Ṣawma‘ī never left Gaylan throughout their journey.

Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani started to show miraculous wonders soon after his birth. When he was an infant he would not suckle his mother during the day in the fasting month of Ramadhan. When the overcast sky prevented people from watching the crescent for the first day of Ramadhan, they asked his mother about him and she told them that he did not take milk on that morning. It turned out later that this was indeed the first day of Ramadhan.

After the departure of his father from this world, Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani stayed with his mother until the age of eighteen when, after having a vision, he asked for her permission to move to Baghdad, the capital of Sufism and knowledge. In Baghdad, he accompanied Shaikh Ḥammād Ad-Dabbās, a well-known Sufi saint of the time, who predicted that Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir would attain such a high spiritual station to declare: “My foot is on the neck of every saint.”

For almost twenty five years, Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir traveled the deserts and ruins of Iraq, and for several years he did not eat more than what was essential to keep him alive. For about forty years he never slept at night in order to worship Allah, and as a result he performed the prayer of dawn with the ablution of the evening prayer.

One of the major miraculous wonders that sheds light on the exceptional spiritual status of Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir and the role that Allah had assigned to him in promoting Islam took place on a Friday in 1117 CE. While on his way to Baghdad, Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir came across a frail and sick man who saluted him saying: “Peace be on you.” As Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir returned the greeting, the man asked him for help to sit up. When Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir gave the requested help, the sick man started to grow big in stature. The person then asked Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir if he knew him, but Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir answered in the negative. So the man explained to: “I am the religion of your grandfather. I have become sick and miserable but Allah has revived me with your help.” After this strange encounter Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir continued on his way to the mosque to perform the Friday prayer. At the mosque, a man approached him and gave him a pair of shoes and addressed him with the title of Muḥyī ad-Dīn which means “the reviver of religion,” which became his title. Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir did indeed spread Islam everywhere in the world and his influence and guiding efforts were so great that many of today’s Sufi schools trace their origin to him.

Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir then accompanied the Sufi Shaikh Abu Sa‘īd Al-Makhzūmī who, in 1127 CE, put Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir in charge of his well-known school in Baghdad. Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir first did not preach. In that same year, one day before the prayer of midday, Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir saw in a visionary dream his grandfather Prophet Muhammad who asked him why he was not preaching to the people. The grandson replied that he could not speak in the presence of the orators of Baghdad as his mother tongue was not Arabic. The Prophet then ejected his saliva seven times in his grandson’s mouth and asked him to start preaching to people by both words and works. After the prayer, Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir sat to preach and people gathered around him, but he felt nervous. At this point, he saw his other great grandfather Imām ‘Ali bin Abi Talib before him who ejected his saliva six times into the mouth of his grandson. When Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir asked him why he did that six rather than seven times, Imām ‘Ali replied that it was out of respect to the Prophet. This is one of the miraculous events which underlines Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir’s following reply to the question about the source of his divine knowledge: “In the past, it was my Master Hammad Ad-Dabbas, but now I drink from two seas: the sea of Prophethood and the sea of chivalry (futuwwa)”.4 The large number of books that Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir wrote on both the Law and Sufism attest to the depth of his divine knowledge.

This miracle provided Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir with a great deal of spiritual knowledge and the ability to preach to the people with eloquence and perfect command of the language. Thus, the school of Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir, where he used to lecture three days a week, became the destination of the seekers of truth and divine knowledge. He lectured at his school for about forty years since it was handed over to him in 1127 CE until his departure from this world in 1166 CE. The present book consists of 45 discourses that Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir gave at his school. He also taught and acted as a jurisprudent for thirty three years from 1133 CE.

Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir attained spiritual states and stations that no other Sufi Master after him reached. He was raised to such a status in the world of sainthood that in 1165 CE Allah ordered him to make his unique, well-known declaration: “My foot is on the neck of every saint”, as had already been predicted of him by Shaikh Ḥammād Ad-Dabbās and a few other saints. All saints of the time heard his words and all of them bent their necks in compliance with this divine order. This is how he came to be known as Sultān Al-Awliyā’ (the sultan of saints).


1 He is also called “Al-Gīlānī” or “Al-Gaylānī” in various countries, but “Al-Jīlānī” is more widely used in English speaking countries.

2 The word sayyid means literally “master.” It is usually used as a title for the descendants of Prophet Muhammad because he described his two grandsons Imām Al-Ḥasan and Imām Al-Ḥussein, from whom all his lineage descended, as follows: “Al-Ḥasan and Al-Ḥussein are the masters (sayyida) of the youth of Paradise.”

3 The word “Imām” means literally “the leader or guide.”

4 The term futuwwa is derived from fata which literally means “noble knight” and which is one of the titles of Imām ‘Alī bin Abī Tālib.


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

Mar 112008

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

* O young man! When you come into my presence, give up your appreciation for your deeds and self-admiration. Come in with nothing, as one who is bankrupt. If you have high regard for your deeds and yourself you will be astonished at what I am talking about and you will hate me because I speak the truth and disagree with you. No one hates me other than the enemy of Allah and no one is ignorant of me except one who is ignorant of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), given to much talk and little action. No one loves me but one who is knowledgeable of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), given to much action and little talk. The sincere person loves me, whereas the hypocrite hates me. One who follows the Sunna1 loves me, whereas one who follows heretical innovations hates me. If you love me, you are the one who will receive the benefits of that; and if you hate me, you are the one who will suffer the harm. I pay no attention to the praise and dispraise of the creatures.

* The person who wishes for success must become a piece of ground under the feet of shaikhs. What are the attributes of these shaikhs? They are those who have abandoned this world and the creatures and have bidden farewell to everything from beneath the Throne down to beneath the surface of the earth — that is the heavens and what is therein and the earths and what is therein. They are those who have given up all things and bidden them the farewell of one who will never return to them again. They have said farewell to all creatures including their own selves, for they are in the presence of their Lord (mighty and glorified is He) in all of their states. Anyone who seeks a company that guides him to the True One (mighty and glorified is He) yet keeps his lower self is in illusion and fantasy.

The person whose renunciation and belief in the oneness of God are sound does not see the existence of the creatures, does not see a giver other than the True One (mighty and glorified is He), and does not see a benefactor other than Him. How great your need is, O all of you people of this world, to listen to these words! How great your need is, O ignorant ascetics, to listen to these words! Most ascetic worshippers are servants of the creatures, associating them with God.

* O hermits and recluses, come and get a taste of my words, if only a single letter! Accompany me for a day or a week so that you may learn something that benefits you. Woe to you! The majority of you are in illusion, worshipping the creatures in your cells. This business does not come about by sitting in retreats while being ignorant. Woe to you! Walk in search of Knowledge and knowledgeable scholars until no further walking is possible. Walk until nothing obeys you [in your wish to walk]. When you become unable to walk, sit down. Walk with your outward, then with your inward,[2] then with your heart, and then with your essence. When you have become totally exhausted outwardly and inwardly and have to sit, nearness to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and attainment to Him will come to you.

* If you come to me but do not put my teachings into practice you would only be a nuisance to the audience. As long as you are in your shop, you continue to think of your failing business, and when you come to me it is only to comfort yourself. No matter how many times you come to listen, it is as if you heard nothing. O property owner! Forget about your property and come and sit among the poor and be humble to Allah and to them.

* Be sensible, abandon your prestigious position and come and sit here like one of the group so that my words get planted in the land of your heart. If you have sense you will accompany me, be content with a morsel from me every day, and endure with patience the harshness of my words. Anyone who has faith will stand firm and grow, whereas the person who lacks faith will run away from me. Woe to you, O you who claim to know the spiritual states of others! How can we believe you when you have not managed to know your own state? This is nothing but telling of lies, so repent from the telling of lies. O Allah, grant us truthfulness under all conditions and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire” (from 2.201).

* Woe to you, O you who associate creatures with God! How often you knock on doors behind which there is none to answer you, and how often you hammer cold iron without heating it with fire! You have no sense, you have no proper reasoning, and you do not know the proper behavior. Woe to you! Come close to me and have a morsel from my food. If you taste my food you will renounce the food of others. If you get a taste of the food of the Creator, your heart and innermost being will renounce the food of the creatures. This takes place in the heart — behind the clothes, the flesh, and the skin. This heart will never be sound as long as it is inhabited by any creature. Certainty [of faith] will remain incomplete as long as there is an atom of love of this world in the heart. When faith has become certitude, certitude has become knowingness, and knowingness has become Knowledge, you will become an expert in distinguishing between the good and the bad in the service of Allah (mighty and glorified is He). You will take from the hand of the rich and give back to the poor. You will become the owner of the kitchen, dishing out sustenance with the hand of your heart and innermost being.

O hypocrite, you are unworthy of respect until you come to be like this! Woe to you! You have not acquired good manners at the hand of an ascetic shaikh who practices pious restraint and is learned in the Law of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and His Knowledge. Woe to you! You want something in return for nothing, so you will get nothing. Worldly things cannot be earned without diligence, so what of that which is in the presence of Allah (mighty and glorified is He)?

* When the seeker’s company of the shaikh has become sound, the shaikh will feed and nourish him from his heart with the food and drink of knowingness. O seekers, empty your hearts of the creatures and then you will see wonders! Tomorrow it will be said to the people of Paradise: “Enter Paradise,” and today, when the True One (mighty and glorified is He) examines the hearts of the elite of His servants and finds them empty of this world, Paradise, and anything other than Him, He will say to them: “Enter the Paradise of My nearness now and later on.”

*Adhering to what I say is a sign of faith and running away from it is a sign of hypocrisy. O Allah, forgive us, do not expose us in this world and the hereafter, and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.

* Refined behavior is as much an obligatory duty on the knower as is repentance on the disobedient person. How can he fail to be well‑mannered when he is the nearest of all creatures to the Creator? If someone builds social relationships with kings but behaves ignorantly, his ignorance will bring him near to being put to death. Everyone who lacks polite behavior is detested by the creatures and the Creator. Any time in which good manners are lacking is loathed. Refined behavior in the company of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) is essential.

O young man, if you know me you will not leave me and you will follow me wherever I go. You will be incapable of leaving whether I assign you work to do or leave you without work, take from you or give you, impoverish you or enrich you, tire you or rest you. The requirements for becoming like this are to think well [of me] and cultivate good intention, both of which you lack. How could you, then, be fit for my company and benefit from my words? Victory lies in cultivating good behavior in the company of the Creator (mighty and glorified is He) and the creatures. O Allah, do not let their hearing of these words be evidence against them but render it evidence in their favor! “O our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire!

* My enemy and one who loves me are both equal in my sight. I have no friend or foe left on the face of the earth. This happens only after one loves Allah, cultivates sound belief in His oneness, and sees the creatures as powerless. One who is pious to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) is my friend, whereas one who disobeys Him is my enemy. The former is the friend of my faith and the latter is its enemy. O Allah, let this be always true of me, establish it firmly, and make me totally committed to it! Make it a genuine attribute of mine, not merely something that I pretend. You know that I twine the fibers of the ropes of Your religion and of the ropes of Your will, and that I am the servant of Your servants — those who have renounced everything other than You in seeking Your satisfaction.

* O ignorant one, O you who embrace the gold coin and the silver one, O you who rejoice in the praise and commendation of the creatures! You are the servant of praise, applause, and rewards. If you have sense you will weep over yourself. “We belong to Allah, and to Him we return” (from 2.156). There is no might or strength but by Allah, the High, the Great. O Allah, grant us fulfilling the servitude to You and being truthfulness in seeking You and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire!

O young man, the truthful person has no backward movements. He is always moving forward. He has a front but no back. He keeps to his truthfulness until his atom becomes a mountain, his drop a sea, his little bit so much, his lamp a sun, and his shell a kernel. If you are ever fortunate to come across a truthful person, stay always close to him. If you are ever fortunate to meet one who has your remedy, keep always close to him. If you ever have the good fortune to come across one who guides you to what you have lost, remain always close to him. You may never get to know such people for they are a few, rare individuals. The shell is abundant but the kernel is rare. The shells are in the garbage dumps, whereas the kernel is in the treasuries of the kings.

* The people of Allah are ill and their Physician is with them. They are ill in the presence of their Physician, on the lap of His generosity and His subtle kindness. He handles them with His favor, grace, and mercy. One who does not see a successful person will never succeed. Sit in the presence of the people of Allah, listen to their utterances, and accompany them for the sake of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) not for the sake of this world, and then you will benefit from them.

* You are unworthy of respect! I speak the truth to you so it is up to you whether you wish to come or not, whether you wish to praise or dispraise me. The Invincible One has said: “And say [O Muhammad!] ‘[this is] the truth from your Lord,’ so let him who will, believe; and let him who will, disbelieve” (from 18.29). No one runs away from the sharpness of my words other than one who is a hypocrite, impostor, swindler, follower of his passion, obedient to his lower self; violates the Book of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and the Sunna of the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him); hates the truth; loves falsehood; takes no steps with his heart to draw near to his Master (mighty and glorified is He).

O young man, hear and look with your heart without doubts and you will see wonders! Relinquish your doubts about the people of Allah. Believe them and believe in them without asking “why” and “how,” so they will accept you in their company, admit you to their service, and give you a share of what has been sent down to them. Favors and graces come down from the heaven on the hearts of the truthful, and the rewards of the innermost beings come down on their innermost beings, by night and day. If you wish them to accept you for their service you must purify your outward and inward. Be at the ready before them. Purify your heart of any heretical innovation, for the doctrine of the people of Allah is the doctrine of the prophets, the messengers, and the truthful (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them). They follow in the footsteps of the righteous predecessors. Their creed is the creed of the elderly. They do not lay claim to anything unless they have evidence on it.

* Woe to you! You claim that your heart has attained to Allah when it is in fact fettered and burdened. It is imprisoned behind doors and locked gates. Go and pass off your counterfeit coins on someone else. If you come here to pass off your counterfeit coins on me, do not come, for you will only tire yourself, as I will not accept your counterfeit coins. But if you come so that I cast your gold and separate out from it the impurities, silver, and any covering layer, then come. Have you not known that the people of Allah are money changers, assay the gold coins of religion and distinguish between the good and the bad — between what belongs to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and what belongs to the creatures? The people of Allah are ambassadors, guides, physicians, experts, diligent workers, agents, and callers on people to their Lord (mighty and glorified is He).

O people, love your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and make His creatures recognize that He is worthy of all love! Love Him and guide the creatures to Him so that they join you in loving Him. Remind those who are forgetful of Him. Remind them of His favor to them so that they come to love Him. Allah (mighty and glorified is He) revealed to David (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) the following: “O David, make My creatures love Me!” He has foreknowledge of whom will love Him. He ordered David (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) to make His creatures love Him in order for that foreknowledge to become manifest. If you were inside a dark house, with a fire iron and a flint, and you rub the two together, would not that generate fire? The fire that was in the fire iron is old but the act of rubbing made it appear. Similarly, the duties imposed by the Creator reveal and unveil the foreknowledge about the creatures. The commandments and prohibitions differentiate between the obedient servant and the disobedient one. They distinguish between the good debtor who pays his dues and the bad debtor who defaults.

The people of the innermost being were few in ancient times, and today they are the fewest of the few. The believer loves Allah (mighty and glorified is He) even if He tests him with afflictions; reduces his share of food, drink, clothing, social prestige, and well‑being; and drives creatures away from him. He does not run away from His door but rather sleeps at it, taking its doorstep as a pillow; and he does not feel alienated from Him. He does not object to Him should He give favors to others and deprive him. If He grants him favors, he offers thanks to Him, and if He withholds things from him, he endures that with patience. His aim is not to receive favors, but his goal is to see Him, come near to Him, and enter into His presence.

* O you who waste your time in your houses and cells in the company of the lower self, natural inclination (ṭab‘), passion, and little knowledge! You have to accompany practicing knowledgeable shaikhs. Obey them and follow in their footsteps. Show humility to them and be patient with their humiliation of your lower selves until your passions have disappeared, your lower selves have been subjugated, and the fire of your natural inclination has been put out. Only then will you come to know this world and so you will avoid it. It will become your maidservant and it will give you what it has been ordered to give you, which are your allotted worldly shares. It will then bring your shares to you while you are at the door of your nearness to your Lord (mighty and glorified is He). It and the hereafter are both maidservants for the person who serves the True One (mighty and glorified is He).

* This business cannot be done by merely sitting in retreats in the company of ignorance. Woe to you! Walk in search of Knowledge and practicing knowledgeable scholars until no further walking can be done. Keep walking until your legs no longer obey you. So, when you become unable to walk, sit down with your outward, then with your inward, then with your heart, and then with your essence. When you become totally exhausted outwardly and inwardly and have to sit, nearness to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and attainment to Him will come to you. If the footsteps of your heart come to a halt and you lose all your energy in your way to Him, that will be a sign of your nearness to Him. At that point, surrender and throw yourself prostrate. Then, He will either build a cell for you in the wilderness and lodge you in the ruins, or return you to society and order this world, the hereafter, jinn, people, angels, and spirits to be at your service.

* It is being said to you: “Only if you listen and put into practice what you hear!” How often you attend these sessions with passion, disobedience, and objection! Your attendance is a falsehood with no truth, punishment with no reward, evil with no good. Repent and stop attending in this manner. Attend with the intention of deriving benefits and then you will benefit. I hope and pray that Allah (mighty and glorified is He) will benefit you through me and amend your hearts, intentions, and aims. I do not lose hope of you, in compliance with His words: “Allah may bring after that something new to pass” (from 65.1). You will wake up: “And you will know its tidings after a while” (38.88).

O Allah! Grant us the wakefulness of the vigilant. Treat us like You treated them. Let us enter their spiritual states with forgiveness, good health, and permanent well‑being in religion in this world and the hereafter. O Allah, grant us Your nearness with forgiveness and well‑being. Grant us the goodness of today and the goodness of every day! Grant us the goodness of those who are present and the goodness of those who are absent. Drive away from us the evil of the present and the absentees. Grant us the goodness of the sultans whom you put in charge of Your land and guard us against their evil. Guard us against the evil of the wicked, the scheming of the disbelievers, the evil of all of your servants and lands, and the evil of every crawling creature You grasp “by the forelock. Certainly, My Lord is on a straight Path” (from 11.56). Give the disobedient persons to the obedient ones, the ignorant persons to the knowers, the absentees from Your presence to those who are in Your presence, the idle ones to those who have put their knowledge into practice, and those who have gone astray to the guided ones. Amen.

* O young man, what is yours will not go past you or be consumed by others. What is others’ will not come to you by wishing for it and being keen on obtaining it. There is only yesterday that has already past, today that you are in, and tomorrow that is yet to come. Yesterday of yours is a lesson for you, today of yours is your current state, and tomorrow that is yet to come you may or may not witness. You do not know what your name will be tomorrow.

You will remember what I am saying and regret. Woe to you! You trade being in my presence for earning a grain or two! What cuts you off from me is your ignorance of what I am involved in and what I teach. You are ignorant of its root and branch. You are ignorant of its stream, mountain, and source. If you have known and understood what I do and say you would not have left me. You will remember after a while the advice that I am giving you. You will see after death the aftermath that I am talking about: “So you shall remember what I say to you, and I entrust my affair to Allah” (from 40.44). Say: “There is no might or strength but by Allah, the High, the Great (lā ḥawla wa lā quwwata illā billāhi al‑‘Aliy al‑‘Adhīm)”.

* Learn from me, O ignorant ones! Follow me for I guide you to the way of righteousness. Woe to you! You claim that you seek obedience to me, yet you hide your wealth from me! You have lied in your claim. The seeker has no shirt, turban, gold, or wealth in addition to his shaikh. He eats from his shaikh’s plate what he orders him to eat, while he is in a state of extinction, waiting for the commandments and prohibitions of his shaikh. He knows that this has benefits from Allah (mighty and glorified is He) for him and is a tightening of His ropes. If you harbor doubts about your shaikh, you better leave his company, for in this case accompanying him and obeying him would bring no benefit to you. If the patient develops doubts about his physician, he cannot be cured by his medicine.

* Accompany the people of Allah, for one of their attributes is that if they look at a person and direct to him their spiritual influence they love him, even if the person they looked at was a Jew, Christian, or fire‑worshipper. And if he was a Muslim, his faith, certitude, and steadfastness will increase. If he was in a different state, Allah will expand his breast to Islam.

O you who are forgetful of the True One (mighty and glorified is He), it is piety and righteous works that draw you near to Him! The disbelievers used to draw close to the sultans and kings by means of their wealth and sons, and they used to say: “If on the Day of Resurrection Allah (mighty and glorified is He) wishes us to draw near to Him by means of our property and sons we will do,” so Allah (mighty and glorified is He) revealed: “It is not your wealth or your children that bring you near to Us, but [our nearness is for] those who believe and do righteous deeds — these will have a double reward for what they did, and they shall be safe in the chambers” (34.37). If you draw near to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) by means of your property while you are still in this world, this will be beneficial to you. If you teach your children how to write, how to read the Qur’an, and how to worship with the intention of drawing near to Allah (mighty and glorified is He), you will benefit from this. You will get the rewards for this after your death. I am telling you that all that you are involved in will bring you no benefit. It is faith, righteous deeds, truthfulness, and belief that are beneficial.

The believer who has become a knower (may Allah be satisfied with him) keeps on pleasing the Messenger (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) by working with him until his heart asks for the permission to enter into the presence of his Lord (mighty and glorified is He). He will be like a servant before him, and after he has served him for a long time, he will say to him: “O Master, show me the King’s door. Make me do business with Him. Put me in a position where I can see Him. Let me hold with my hand the ring of the door of His nearness.” He will then take him along with him and bring him near to the door. Then it will be said to him: “O Muhammad (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him), who is the person with you, O ambassador, O guide, O teacher?” To this he will reply: “You already know, a young bird that I have brought up and accepted for Your service.” Then he will say to his (the servant’s) heart: “Here you are with your Lord,” as Gabriel (peace be on him) said to him when he flew him to heaven and he drew near his Lord (mighty and glorified is He): “Here you are with your Lord.”


1 The Arabic word sunna generally means “way” or “method.” Usually written in English with a capital S, the term Sunna refers specifically to the way of life of Prophet Muhammad (prayer and peace be upon him), including his sayings and doings.

2 The dhāhir (outward) refers to the body, appearance, and visible actions. The bāṭin(inward) denotes inner feelings, thoughts …etc.


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

Mar 112008

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

* Piety is the key to repentance, and adhering to it is the key to the nearness to Allah (mighty and glorified is He). Repentance is the root and branch of every goodness, which is why the righteous people never abandon it under any circumstances. Repent, O backsliders, O disobedient ones! Seek reconciliation with your Lord by means of repentance. This heart remains undeserving of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) as long as it contains an atom of this world and longing for any creature. Therefore, when you seek His company, evict both of these attachments from your hearts. This will not cause you any harm. For once you have established a connection with Him, this world and the creatures will both come to you while you are with Him, at His door. This is an experienced thing; it has been experienced by the ascetics who renounced everything.

* Repent and acknowledge your shortcomings and weaknesses. Repentance is the water of the True One (mighty and glorified is He). He revives the earth after its death with rain and quickens the hearts after their death with repentance and wakefulness. O disobedient ones, repent, never despair of the mercy of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), and never lose hope of His mercifulness!

* You must repent and ask for forgiveness frequently, for these are two great means to achieving success in the affairs of this world and the hereafter. Noah (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) ordered his people to pray for forgiveness, and he promised them that He will respond by granting them forgiveness and putting this world at their command and at their service. So he said, quoting Him (high is He): “And ask forgiveness of your Lord, He is Forgiving. He will send the rain on you in torrents, help you with wealth and sons, appoint for you gardens, and appoint for you rivers” (from 71.10‑12). Repent from your sins and turn away from your current attribution of partners to God so that He will grant you all that you wish for of things of this world and the hereafter.

You have sinned as your father Adam (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) sinned, so repent as he did. When he and his wife Eve (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on them) ate from the tree that their Lord forbade them to eat, He punished them with remoteness and stripped them of the rewards of His generosity. He left them naked, so they picked up leaves from Paradise [to cover their bodies]. But the leaves dried up and fell, so they remained naked. They were then sent down to earth. All that occurred as a result of the evil of disobedience and noncompliance. The poison of disobedience flowed in their bodies so He expelled them. Then Allah (mighty and glorified is He) taught them how to repent and ask for forgiveness. They repented and asked for forgiveness, so He pardoned and forgave them.

* When will you repent, O backsliders, O disobedient ones? Be reconciled with your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) by means of repentance. Was it not for my sense of shame in the presence of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and in relation to His patience, I would get up and grab each one of you by the hand and say to him: “You have committed such and such. Repent to Allah (mighty and glorified is He)”. You must not speak and you will not be spoken to until your faith, certitude, and knowingness of your Master (mighty and glorified is He) have strengthened. Then, you will clinch to the firm handhold, which is the attainment of your heart to Him. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) will be proud of you before the nations. O you who have believed with your tongue, how long will it be before you believe with your heart? O you who are a believer in your public life, how long will it be before you become a believer in your private life? Combining faith of the heart with striving against the lower self is useful. Combining faith of the tongue with disbelief in your heart is useless. The faith of the hypocrite is the faith of one who is afraid of the sword [of punishment].

* O disobedient ones, repent from your disobedience, for your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) is forgiving, merciful! He accepts repentance from His servants and covers the sins and erases them. Repent with your tongues and hearts. O Allah, we repent to you for every sin and guilt and we will never commit them again! “O our Lord, do not condemn us if we forget or make mistake!” (from 2.286). “O our Lord, do not make our hearts deviate after You have guided us!” (from 3.8). O Forgiver of sins, forgive us! O You who cover the shortcomings, draw a veil over our shortcomings! Ask Him for forgiveness, for He (high is He) forgives the sins, accepts the righteous deeds no matter how few they are, and rewards in return with things that are even better, for He is generous and bountiful. He gives rewards without asking for something in return and for no reason, so what if there is a reason?

Deal with Him by means of believing in His oneness, performing good works, being detached from this world and turning away from it, choosing the hereafter and welcoming and wishing for it, and giving up the acts of disobedience and sins and forsaking them. The seeker of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) does not wish for His Paradise and does not fear His Fire, but only wishes to see His face. He wishes for nearness to Him and fears remoteness from Him. You are a prisoner of Satan, passion, the lower self, this world, and lustful desires, but you do not have a clue. Your leg and heart are in shackles, but you are totally unaware. O Allah, deliver him from his captivity and deliver us! Amen.

You must keep the fast, perform the five daily prayers at their prescribed times, and honor all the limits of the Law. After performing the obligatory worship duties, start supererogation. Impose on yourself observing the strictest laws of religion (‘azīma) and avoid following the allowed concessions (rukhṣa). If the person resorts to these concessions and gives up observing the strictest laws, it is feared that he would totally lose his religion. Observing the strictest laws is for grown‑up men, because it is about enduring what is most dangerous, hardest, and most difficult. Following the allowed concessions is for the youngsters and women because it is the easiest.

* O young man, if you keep to repentance and proper reflection, you will give up all interests in worldly things and become occupied with those that are relevant to the hereafter! You will give up your interest in what belongs to the creatures and become occupied with what belongs to the Creator, and you will give up committing evil and do only good. O you who have relinquished reflection and repentance, you are a loser but you do not have a clue! You are a loser not a winner. Your likeness is as the likeness of a man who sells and buys without keeping account of his expenditure or counting the cash. He will soon find out that his capital has disappeared and what is left with him is bad, pseudo‑silver coins. Woe to you! Your capital, which is your lifetime, has gone to waste while you do not have a clue! Everything that you have earned is counterfeit whereas everything that the believers have earned is a gem. The believer will soon fulfill his commitments, whereas you will be taken and thrown in prison. The True One will not accept a single atom of what you have, for the True One (mighty and glorified is He) accepts only sincerity, which you do not have. Have you not heard these words of the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him): “Call yourselves to account before you are called to account, weigh yourselves before you are weighed, and smarten yourselves up for the greatest parade”?

It has been said that whomever Allah (mighty and glorified is He) wishes to be a knower of Him (mighty and glorified is He), one of His saints, one of His lovers, one of His sought after ones, He assigns an angel to look after him in both his private and public lives, foster his heart and his intention, drive evil away from him, and allow only what is good to reach him. This is similar to what He (high is He) said about Joseph (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him): “thus [it was] so that We turned evil and lewdness away from him; [for] he is one of Our chosen servants” (from 12.24). This is what He did for the prophets, the messengers, the saints, and the truthful (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them).

John (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) was passing by children who were playing who said to him: “Play with us.” He replied: “Glory be to Allah, it is not for playing that we have been created.” The lower selves of the people of Allah urge them to do good not evil. They have joined their hearts after being subjected to striving. Whenever their lower selves were subjected to strife, they gained comfort and longing for the Highest Companion. Listening to the Qur’an comes to be all their business. Before this, they used to hear only the sound and miss the meaning. Do not listen to or participate in prattle. The Qur’an is the source of life for the hearts and of purity for the innermost beings, and it lays the foundation for neighboring Allah (mighty and glorified is He) in Paradise.

* O young man, you have piled up sins one on top of another, and you are heading toward a vague, ambiguous end which may be good or bad. Pay attention to death as there is no way that you can escape it. Give up indulging in idle gossip and getting involved in matters that are irrelevant to you. Curtail your hopes and reduce your greedy keenness on obtaining worldly things because you will be dead soon. Your death is so close that it may come while you are sitting here. In this case you would have come here on foot but would be carried back to your house in a coffin.


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

Mar 112008

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

* The mediator is essential. Ask your Lord for a physician who can treat the illnesses of your hearts, a healer who can heal you, a guide who can guide you and take you by the hand. Draw near to those whom He has brought near to Him, His elite, the ushers of His nearness, the keepers of His door. You have consented to serving your lower selves and pursuing your passions and natural inclinations. You work hard to fully satisfy and satiate your lower selves in this world, although this is something that you will never achieve. You keep to this state hour after hour, day after day, month after month, and year after year, until you find that death has suddenly come to you and you cannot release yourselves from its grip.

* The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “In every craft seek the expertise of its experts.” Worshipping is a craft, and its experts are those whose deeds are righteous; those who are knowledgeable of the Law and have put it into practice; those who have bidden farewell to all creatures after knowing them; those who have run away from their lower selves, their possessions, their children, and everything other than their Lord (mighty and glorified is He) on the feet of their hearts and their innermost beings. Their bodies are in populated places, in the midst of the creatures; but their hearts are in the wilderness and deserts. They keep to this until their hearts grow and their wings strengthen and fly to heaven. Their spiritual aspirations ascended, so their hearts flew up and reached the True One (mighty and glorified is He). Thus, they became among those about whom Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has said: “And in Our sight they are among the righteous elect” (38.47).

You have this world in your hearts. You have acts of disobedience in your hearts. Let me take charge of you to cleanse and purify you with drinks I offer you. The drinks that I give you are pious restraint, renunciation, piety, faith, certitude, knowingness, Knowledge, forgetting everything, and being in a state of extinction with respect to everything. After reaching this state, existence through your Lord (mighty and glorified is He), nearness to Him, and remembrance of Him will come to you. When all of this has become true of someone, he becomes a sun, moon, and guide for the creatures — taking them by their hands from the river of this world to the shore of the hereafter.

Woe to you! You depend exclusively on your opinion and say: “What do I do with the company of the jurisprudents and scholars?” You think you have been created only for earning worldly things, eating, drinking, and having sexual intercourse. Repent and return before the Angel of Death (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on all prophets and angels) comes to you and takes you while you are amid the worst of deeds. Everyone of you is told to observe the commandments and prohibitions and endure with patience whatever destiny brings.

* Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) came to his people carrying the Torah which contained the commandments and prohibitions. They said to him: “We will not accept what you say unless we see Allah’s face and hear His speech.” He said to them: “He has not shown His face to me so how would He show it to you?” They replied: “If you do not show us His face and let us hear His speech, we will not accept His words.” Therefore, Allah (mighty and glorified is He) revealed to Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) the following: “Tell them if they want to hear My speech, they must fast for three days, and on the fourth day purify themselves and dress up in new, clean clothes, then bring them to hear My speech.” Moses told them that, so they did so.

Then they came to the place on the mountain where Moses used to privately converse with His Lord (mighty and glorified is He). Moses had chosen seventy men from the scholars and ascetics of his people. Then the True One (mighty and glorified is He) addressed them, and they were all thunderstruck, with Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) remaining alone. He said, “O Lord! You have killed the elite of my nation,” and he wept. Allah responded to his weeping with mercy and revived them. They stood on their feet and said: “O Moses, we do not have the capacity to hear the speech of Allah (high is He), so be the mediator between us and Him!” Thus, Allah spoke to Moses who, in turn, enabled his people to hear Him by repeating His words.

Moses could hear the speech of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) because of the strength of his faith and the realization of his obedience and servitude, whereas they failed to hear Him because of the weakness of their faith. If they had accepted from him what was brought to them of the Torah, had acted with obedience on the commandments and prohibitions, had kept to good manners, had not tried a test, and had not dared to say what they said, they would have been able to hear the speech of Allah (mighty and glorified is He).


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

Mar 112008

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

* The lover has no eyes with which he looks at other than his Beloved.

* Woe to you! You claim to love Allah, yet you open up your hearts to others! Because Majnūn Layla (the mad lover of Layla) became truthful in his love for Layla, his heart would not accept other than her. One day he came across some people who asked him: “Where have you come from?” He replied: “From being with Layla.” They asked him: “Where are you going?” He answered: “To Layla.”

Once the heart has become truthful in its love for Allah (mighty and glorified is He) it becomes like Moses (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) about whom Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has said: “And We had caused him to refuse the wet-nurses1 (from 28.12). Do not lie; you do not have two hearts but one, so once it is filled with something there is no room for another. Allah (high is He) has said: “Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his breast” (from 33.4) — a heart that loves the Creator and a heart that loves the creatures. There can be no heart in which this world and the hereafter coexist.

* Allah (high is He) has said in one of His utterances: “The person who claims to love Me yet goes to sleep once the night has set is a liar.” If you were one of the lovers of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) you would not wake up from your sleep reluctantly. The lover is tired, whereas the beloved is at rest. The lover is a seeker, whereas the beloved is sought after. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “Allah (mighty and glorified is He) says to Gabriel: ‘O Gabriel, wake up so‑and‑so and put to sleep so‑and‑so’”! There are two ways to interpret this.

[The first interpretation:] Wake up such and such person who is a lover and put to sleep so‑and‑so who is a beloved. The former has claimed that he loves Me, so make him get up and stand in his right position [to worship Me] so that the leaves of his existence with anyone other than Me will fall. Wake him up in order for him to present evidence of his claim and for his love to be confirmed. And put to sleep so‑and‑so because he is a beloved. He has toiled hard for a long time. Nothing of himself has remained for other than Me. His love has become all for Me. His claim, proof, and adherence to My covenant have been confirmed. His repentance to Me is truthful, and he has kept My covenant. He is a guest, and the guest should not be made to serve or tire. Put him to sleep on the lap of My subtle kindness, give him a seat at the table of My favor, and let him feel intimate with My nearness. His love has become true, and when love becomes true the barriers of formality vanish.”

The other interpretation: “Put to sleep so‑and‑so because he worships Me in order to find favor with the creatures; and wake up so‑and‑so because seeking My favor is the goal of his worshiping Me. Put to sleep so‑and‑so because I hate to hear his voice, and wake that other person up because I love to hear his voice.”

The lover becomes beloved once he has purified his heart of everything other than Allah (mighty and glorified is He), so he will not wish to leave Him for the sake of anyone else. The attainment of the heart to this spiritual station comes about by performing the obligatory worship duties; refraining patiently from prohibited and dubious things; obtaining the permissible and licit things without passion, lustful desire, and engrossment; resorting to curative pious restraint; practicing total renunciation, which is the abandonment of everything other than Allah (mighty and glorified is He); refusing to comply with the lower self, passion, and Satan; and purifying the heart totally of any creature so that praise and dispraise, being given and having things withheld, and gold and clay become all equal. The first stage of this spiritual station is declaring that “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 last stage is seeing gold as worthless as clay.

The person whose heart becomes sound and attached to his Lord will see as equal: gold and clay, praise and dispraise, sickness and good health, affluence and poverty, and good and bad fortune in this world. When this has become true of someone, his lower self and passion will die, the fire of his natural inclinations will die out, and his devil will be humiliated before him. His heart will look down on this world and its lords, then he will turn away from them and advance toward his Lord until a path for his heart will appear in the midst of the creatures which it will follow to reach the Creator. The creatures will step aside to the left and right and clear the way for him. They will run away from the fire of his truthfulness and the charisma of his innermost being. At this stage, he will be called “great” in the heavenly kingdom and all creatures will come to be under the feet of his heart and seek protection under his shadow.

Do not be in illusion. Do not claim ownership of what does not belong to you and what you do not have. Your lower self is in total control of you, and the creatures and this world are in your heart greater than Allah (mighty and glorified is He). You are outside the limit of the people of Allah and you are not counted with them. If you wish to attain to what I have referred to, occupy yourself with purifying your heart from everything.

Woe to you! When you are in need for a bite to eat, lose a trivial thing, or one of your worldly affairs fails, it is the end of the world for you! You turn away from your Lord (mighty and glorified is He), release your anger by battering your wife and children, and insult your religion and Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him). If you were sensible and one of the people of wakefulness and watchfulness, you would be silent in the presence of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and you would see all his actions as favors and caring for you.

* The lovers feel no rest in their hearts even if they enter a million Paradises until they see their Beloved. They do not wish for a created thing but they wish for the Creator. They do not want benefits but they want the Benefactor. They wish for the root not the branch. They have given up all their relationships and have become the individuals of the King. The earth seems too strait for them despite its spaciousness. They have something that keeps them busy and distracts them from the creatures. When their hearts see Paradise while awake or asleep they do not look at it even with a twinkling of an eye. They look at it as they look at lions, shackles, and prisons. They say that it is mere veils, care, and torment. They escape from it as the creatures escape from lions, fetters, and prisons.

*When someone loves Allah (mighty and glorified is He) he loses his will with Him, because the lover has no will above the will of his Beloved. This is known for every lover who has experienced the taste of love. The lover is extinct in the presence of his Beloved, like the servant in the presence of his master. The wise servant who is obedient to his master does not disagree with his master or object to him at all. Woe to you! You are neither a lover nor a beloved, and you have neither experienced the taste of love nor that of being loved. The lover is restless and wary, whereas the beloved is calm. The lover is in hardship, whereas the beloved is in comfort.

You lay claim to love, yet you leave your Beloved to go to sleep! Allah (mighty and glorified is He) has said in one of His utterances: “The person who claims to love Me yet goes to sleep once the night has set is a liar.” Some of the people of Allah sleep only out of necessity. Such a person does not fall into deep sleep but he merely dozes off. He sleeps while in prostration. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) is reported to have said: “If the servant falls asleep while in prostration, Allah (mighty and glorified is He) commends him to the angels saying: ‘See how his soul is with Me and his body is practicing obedience to Me in My presence’”. The person who is overwhelmed by sleep while performing his prayer is considered to be still praying, because his intention was to pray when he was overwhelmed by sleep. The True One (mighty and glorified is He) does not look at the appearance but at the intention and the essence.

* O You who claim to be a seeker, your supposed quest will not be sound as long as you have something that screens you off from your Sought After One! You still say “this is mine” and “this is my property”? The lover has no property, no worldly interest, no treasury, no will, and no house in relation to his Beloved. They all belong to his Sought After One, to his Beloved. The lover is owned by his Beloved and is a humble servant in His hands. The servant and all his property belong to his Master. When the surrender of the lover to his Beloved has become complete, the Beloved returns to him what He received from him and puts him in charge of it. The situation is reversed. The slave becomes free; the humiliated one becomes exalted; the remote one becomes near; the lover becomes beloved. When Majnūn Layla remained patient in his love for Layla, love turned to her and Layla became Majnūn and Majnūn became Layla. The person who is patient and truthful in his love for Allah (mighty and glorified is He), does not run away from His door because of the arrows of His tribulations, and receives them with the front of his heart will become beloved, wanted, and sought after. The person who has experienced this knows it very well. It is indescribable. It is beyond the comprehension of all creatures except a few individuals. These are the most intelligent people. They understand by a mere glance, and by the slightest sign they return [to obedience], acquire good manners, and know what is required of them.

* Woe to you! You claim that you love Allah (mighty and glorified is He), yet you do not obey Him! The love of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) comes only after observing the commandments, refraining from the prohibitions, being satisfied with whatever one gets, and being content with the divine decree. Then you love Him for His favors, after that you love Him for nothing in return, and then you yearn for Him. The lover remembers the True One with his tongue, limbs and senses, heart, and innermost being. When he attains extinction in His remembrance, He commends him to His creatures and distinguishes him from them with unfamiliar spiritual states and sayings. He becomes a truth within a truth. He becomes extinct, as only the First One, the Last One, the Outward One, the Inward One remains. O you who claim to love Him yet complain to the creatures about Him, you are a liar in your claim of love! The person who loves Him in the state of affluence yet complains about Him in the state of poverty is a liar. When poverty comes to a raw heart that has not been strengthened by faith and certitude, that person will undoubtedly end up in the company of disbelief.

* There can be no partnership in love. O you who claim to be in love, the lover is the guest of the beloved! Have you ever seen a guest get his food and drink and look after his needs? You claim to be in love, yet you go to sleep! The lover never sleeps. You are either a lover or a beloved; there is no third case. If you were a lover then how can the lover sleep? And if you were a beloved then the lover is your guest!

* An inquirer asked me: “Which one is more intense, the fire of fear or the fire of longing?” [I said:] “The fire of fear for the seeker and the fire of longing for one who is sought after. These are two different things. Which of the two fires do you have, O inquirer?”

O you who are reliant on means,2your Benefactor and Harmer are one and the same! Your King is one, your Sultan is one, your God is one, and your Creator is one. It is He who made you, and what you do with your hands it is in fact He who does it through your hands. He has created, subsisted, harmed, benefited, and guided you. Why do you rely on something that is created, like yourselves? Why do you worship what cannot cause any harm or bring any benefit to itself? Have you not heard that Allah (high is He) has said: “So let the person who hopes for the meeting with his Lord do righteous deeds and associate no partner in the worship due to his Lord” (from 18.110)? O people, if you are not lovers, serve the lovers, draw near to the lovers, love the lovers, and think well of the lovers!

An inquirer asked him: “Is love by compulsion in the beginning and by volition in the end?” He said: “Love comes by compulsion and volition. For some rare individuals, love comes by way of involuntary compulsion. The True One (mighty and glorified is He) looks at them and loves them, so He transfers them in one moment from one state to another. He does not want to love them after years but He loves them in one moment, so they love Him out of necessity, without delay, without introduction, not gradually, and without any passage of time.

As for the majority of people, love comes by way of choice. The lovers choose Allah (high is He) in preference to His creatures. They see the favors that they have as having come from Him not from anyone else. They recognize His subtle favors, His preparations for them, and His rewards for them so they love Him. Then they choose Him in preference to both this world and the hereafter. They give up all prohibited or legally dubious things, reduce the use of the lawful, and be satisfied with whatever they already have. They abandon the bed and blanket, and sleep and rest: ‘Their sides shun their beds’ (from 32.16). Neither their night is an ordinary night nor is their day an ordinary one. They say: ‘Our God, we have left everything behind the backs of our hearts and hastened to You so that You may be pleased.’ They walk to Him sometimes on the feet of their hearts, sometimes on the feet of their innermost beings, sometimes on the feet of their will, sometimes on the feet of their spiritual aspiration, sometimes on the feet of their truthfulness, sometimes on the feet of their love, sometimes on the feet of their yearning, sometimes on the feet of their humility and modesty, sometimes on the feet of their nearness, sometimes on the feet of their fear, and sometimes on the feet of their hope. They do all this in love for Him and longing to meet Him.

O you who ask me, are you of those who love Allah (mighty and glorified is He) through involuntary compulsion or through choice? If the answer is neither then be silent and work on correcting your practice of Islam. O you who ask me, if only your practice of Islam and faith are sound! If only you leave the company of disbelievers and hypocrites today and stay away from them in the future! If only you refrain from attending sessions of those who associate creatures and means with God, those who dispute with the True One (mighty and glorified is He)! Repent and do not approach the treasuries and secrets of the kings. Shaikh Ḥammād Ad‑Dabbās3 (may Allah show mercy to him) used to say: ‘When someone does not know his status, the decrees of destiny show him his status.’ Acknowledging your status is better than denying it, because the ignorant person is ignorant of his own status and that of others. O Allah, do not include us among the pretenders, liars, and those who are ignorant of You and of the elite of Your creatures, and ‘give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire’”.

* Woe to you! You claim to love Allah, yet you love other than Him! Your claim will be a cause for your destruction. How can you lay claim to love when no sign of it can be seen about you? Love is like a fire in a house with no door or key; its flames come out from the top. The lover keeps his love indoors and conceals it until it shows on him. He has a special language and special speech. He does not wish for anything in addition to his Beloved, which is one of the greatest signs of his truthfulness. O liar, O facetious one, keep silent for you are not one of them! You are neither a lover nor beloved. The lover is at the door, whereas the beloved is inside. The lover is in agitation, movement, and disturbance, whereas the beloved is in tranquility, resting on the lap of the Subtly Kind One, sleeping there. The lover is in tiredness, whereas the beloved is at rest; the lover is a learner, whereas the beloved is a learned scholar; the lover is imprisoned, whereas the beloved is free; the lover has gone crazy, whereas the beloved has become sane.

When a child sees a snake he screams and runs away, whereas the snake‑charmer keeps silent at the scene of a snake. When someone sees a lion, he screams and flees in horror, whereas the lion trainer plays with the lions and sleeps with them. Everyone who enters is surprised. Allah (high is He) has said: “And be pious to Allah and [then] Allah will teach you” (from 2.282). The lover is pious. He is taught politeness while he is still at the door. His limbs and senses and his heart are taught good manners. Once he has become well‑mannered, he enters through the door of nearness. The Law refines the behavior at the door, whereas Knowledge refines the behavior inside. Once the person has acquired good manners through the Law, Knowledge will take care of him, give him authority, make him a commander, enrich him, and enable him to judge properly. The Law is a common door, whereas Knowledge is a special door. When someone behaves with ultimate politeness and obedience at the common door, he will be befriended and brought near, in the inside of the special door. He will join the group of loved ones.

You should not utter a word until you have reached your station, while adhering to reflection and deep thinking, fulfilling servitude, and looking at the deficiencies and shortcomings of yourself. When the person looks at his faults, he accomplishes perfection, but when he looks at his perceived perfection, he reaps deficiency. Reverse your actions in order to succeed.


1After being suckled by his mother, baby Moses did not accept the milk of any other woman.

2 The plural Arabic word asbāb, which is translated as “means,” denotes the “apparent” causes of things and events. The Qur’an stresses that it is Allah who is the “real” cause of everything that happens and that all “means” are mere instruments in His hand.

3 Shaikh ‘Abd Al‑Qadir Al‑Jilani accompanied Shaikh Ḥammād Ad‑Dabbās for some time.


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