It was in the guesthouse, in the early morning of the last day of Dhu’l-Qa’da, A.H. 545, that the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) said, after some discussion, when someone asked: “How can I evict the love of this world from my heart?”:
Notice the world’s fickle treatment of its lords [arbab] and its sons, how it tricks them, plays games with them, and pushes them behind it, then promotes them step by step, in order to raise them above the people and put them in control of them, and in order to display its treasures and its wonders. But while they are enjoying their lofty status, their dominance, their pleasant lifestyle and having the world at their service, this is when it seizes them, binds them, cheats them and throws them headlong down from that elevated position, so that they are dismembered, disintegrated and destroyed, while the world stands there laughing at them with Iblis by its side, laughing along with it. This is what it has done and will do with many of the emperors, kings and rich men, from the time of Adam (peace be upon him) till the Day of Resurrection. It exalts then abases, promotes then sets back, enriches then impoverishes, nurtures then sacrifices. Rare indeed are the few individuals who remain unharmed by it, who master it instead of being dominated by it, who receive help against it and escape its greedy clutches. There is no escape from its greedy clutches unless one knows it really well, and is intensely wary of it and of its cunning tricks.
O questioner, if you observe its faults with the eyes of your heart, you will be able to evict it from your heart. But if you look at it with the eyes in your head, you will be distracted by its charm instead of noticing its faults. You will be unable to evict it from your heart and to abstain from it, and it will kill you as it has killed others. Struggle with your own self [nafs] until it becomes tame. Once it has become tame, it will recognize the faults of this world and abstain from it. Its tameness [tuma’nina] consists in its taking instruction from the heart, complying with the wishes of the innermost being [sirr], obeying both of these in all they may command or forbid, and being satisfied when they give and patient when they withhold. Once it has become tame, it will become attached to the heart and will rely upon it. You will see the crown of pious devotion [taqwa] on its head, and the robes of nearness clothing it.
You must develop faith [iman] and belief [tasdiq], and give up disbelieving the people [of the Lord] and quarreling with them. Do not dispute with them, for they are kings in this world and the hereafter. They possess the nearness of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), so they possess everything that is apart from Him. The Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) has enriched their hearts. He has filled them with His nearness [qurb] and intimate friendship [uns] with Him, and with His radiant lights [anwar] and His gracious favor [karama]. They are not impressed by the power of those who belong to this world and of those who exploit it. They do not pay attention to its beginning, but concentrate on its final outcome [‘aqiba] and its passing away [fana’]. They focus the eyes of their innermost beings [asrar] on the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). They worship neither from fear of destruction [hulk] nor in hope of dominion [mulk]. He has created them for His own sake and to perpetuate His friendly company [suhba], and “He creates that which you do not know” (16:8), for He is “Doer of what He will” (85:16).
“When the hypocrite talks, he lies. When he makes a promise he breaks it, and when he is trusted he betrays.” If a person is innocent of these vices mentioned by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), he is innocent of hypocrisy [nifaq]. These characteristics are the touchstone and the distinction between the believer [mu’min] and the hypocrite [munafiq]. Take this touchstone and this mirror, and use it to examine the face of your heart. Look to see whether you are a believer or a hypocrite, a monotheist [muwahhid] or a polytheist [mushrik].
Everything in this world is a temptation [fitna] and a distraction, except what is taken with a worthy intention [niyya saliha] for the sake of the hereafter. If one’s intention is worthy in dealing with this world, it becomes otherworldly. Any blessing [ni’ma] that is received without gratitude to the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) is a curse [niqma]. Secure the blessings of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) by giving thanks to Him. Two things constitute thankfulness to the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He): The first is taking advantage of blessings in order to perform acts of obedience [ta’at] and to provide comfort to the poor. The second is acknowledging the Benefactor [al-Mun’im] who supplies them, and giving thanks to the One who bestows them, namely the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He).
A certain wise man (may the mercy of Allah be upon him) is reported as having said: “Everything that distracts you from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) is unlucky [mash’um] for you.” If remembrance [dhikr] of Him distracts you from Him, it is unlucky for you. Prayer [salat], fasting [sawm], pilgrimage [hajj] and all acts of charity–all of this is unlucky for you. If His blessings distract you from Him, then they are unlucky for you. You have repaid His blessings with sins against Him and resorting in important matters to others instead of Him. Falsehood and hypocrisy have gained control of you in action and at rest, of your outer form [sura] and your inner content [ma’na], by night and by day. Satan has cunningly deceived you and has made lying and wicked deeds appear attractive to you. You are lying even in your ritual prayer [salat], because you say: “Allahu Akbar [Allah is Supremely Great]!” But you are lying, because in your heart you have a god [ilah] other than Him. Whatever you rely on is your god. Everything you fear, or look to in hope, is your god. Your heart is not in harmony with your tongue. Your deeds do not match your words. Say “Allahu Akbar” a thousand times with your heart and once with your tongue. Do you not feel ashamed of saying: “La ilaha illa’llah [There is no god but Allah],” when you have a thousand objects of worship [ma’bud] besides Him? Repent to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) for everything you are involved in.
O you who impart knowledge, though you are satisfied with it in name alone, without the practical application, what good can it do you to say, “I am a scholar,” since you are telling a lie? How can you feel at ease with yourself, when you are instructing others to do what you yourself do not practice? As Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said:
Why do you say what you do not do? (61:2)
Woe unto you! You tell people to be honest, while you are false. You tell them to affirm the divine Unity [tawhid], while you are a polytheist [mushrik]. You tell them to be sincere, while you are a hypocrite. You tell them to give up sins, while you are committing them. The sense of shame [haya’] has departed from your sight. If you had any faith, you would feel ashamed. As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:
The sense of shame is part of faith [al-haya’u mina’l-iman].
You have no faith [iman], no conviction [iqan] and no loyalty [imana]. You have betrayed knowledge [‘ilm], so your loyalty has vanished and you been recorded with Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) as a traitor. I know of no remedy for you except repentance and persistence therein. When a person has genuine faith in Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and His decree, he surrenders all his affairs to Him, and makes no one a partner [sharik] to Him where they are concerned. Do not associate creatures or material means [asbab] with Him, and do not be obliged to them instead of to Him! Once the person has really achieved this, He delivers him from misfortunes in all his spiritual states [ahwal], and he now progresses from faith [iman] to conviction [iqan]. Then saintship [wilaya] will come to him, [then] Badaliyya, and then Ghawthiyya. Perhaps Qutbiyya will come in the last of his spiritual states. The Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) will glory in him [yubahi bihi] in the presence of all His creatures, be they jinn, human beings, angels or spirits [arwah]. He will promote him and draw him near. He will give him authority over His creatures. He will grant him sovereignty and power. He will love him and cause His creatures to love him.
The basis and starting point of all this is faith and belief [tasdiq] in Him and His Messengers. The foundation of this business is Islam, then faith, then putting into practice the Book of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and the law [shari’a] of His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), then sincerity [ikhlas] in action, together with the heart’s affirmation of Unity [tawhid]. With the perfection of faith, the believer becomes extinct [yafna] to himself, to his work, and to everything apart from the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), so that he performs his deeds while he is in a state of detachment [ma’zil] from them. He continues to struggle with his own self [nafs] and all creatures, on the side of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), until He guides him to His path. As Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said:
As for those who strive in Our cause, We surely guide them in Our ways. (29:69)
You must be abstemious in all things, since you are now ready to accept His management [tadbir]. He turns them [His creatures] over and over with the hand of His destiny [qadar], then if they conform to it He transfers them to His power [qudra]. What bliss [ya tuba] for those who comply with destiny, who wait for the action [fi’l] of the Preordainer [al-Muqaddir], who act in accordance with destiny, who travel along with destiny, and who are not ungrateful for the blessing of destiny’s decrees [aqdar] ! The token [aya] of the blessing of the Preordainer is His mercy [rahma], nearness [qurb] to Him, and satisfaction with Him to the exclusion of all His creatures. When the servant’s heart attains to the contact with his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), He makes him so satisfied with Himself that he has no need of creatures. He draws him near, grants him power and sovereignty, and says to him:
You are today in our presence established and worthy of trust.(12:54)
He makes him vicegerent in His kingdom, as the Pharaoh of Egypt made Joseph (peace be upon him) his vicegerent, delegating to him the power to rule his kingdom and its subjects and to administer his dominion and its resources, and appointing him custodian of his treasuries. The experience of the heart is similar. Once it is truly sound, and its nobility and its purity from everything apart from its Master (Almighty and Glorious is He) are clearly apparent, He puts it in charge of His servants and His kingdom, in both worldly and otherworldly spheres, so that it comes to be like the Ka’ba of those who seek and aspire to follow the path to this knowledge [‘ilm] and practice [‘amal] through outer knowledge [al-‘ilm az-zahir].
Do not make a habit of idleness and laziness in obeying the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), because He will inflict chastisement upon you. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported as having said:
When the servant is lax in performance, Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) afflicts him with anxiety.
He afflicts him with anxiety over things that have not been allotted to him, with the worry of dependents, family problems, lack of profit in his livelihood, rebelliousness on the part of his children, and a discordant relationship with his wife. All this will affect him, whichever way he may turn, as a punishment for his laxity in obeying his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), and for letting himself be distracted from Him by this world and creatures. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:
What concern has Allah for your punishment if you are thankful and believe? (4:147)
Nor is it permissible for anyone to argue against Him on the grounds that his conduct and the verdict thereon were subject to His predetermination [qada’] and His predestination [qadar].
He shall not be questioned as to what He does, but they shall be questioned. (21:23)
Woe unto you! How long will you go on being preoccupied with yourself and your family, to the neglect of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He)? A certain wise man (may the mercy of Allah be upon him) is reported as having said: “When your son has learned to gather date-stones, leave him alone and concentrate on your own self together with your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He).” What he meant by this was that, once the boy has learned that date-stones are useful for some purpose, and that they are worth a price, he has already learned enough to fend for himself, so you should not waste your time and energy on him, since he can manage very well without you.
Teach your children practical skills, and leave yourself free to serve Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), because your wife and children can in no way enable you to dispense with Allah. Accustom yourself, your wife and your children to being satisfied with bare necessities, while you and they devote yourselves to your Master (Almighty and Glorious is He). If an abundance of fortune [rizq] awaits you in the invisible realm [al-ghaib], it will come to you at the time appointed for it in the presence of Allah. You must recognize it as from the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), and steer clear of idolatrous association [shirk] with creatures. If destiny does not hold such abundance in store for you, however, you can do without things through your abstemiousness [zuhd] and frugality [qana’a].
When a frugal believer has some worldly need, he enters the presence of his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) with the feet of his begging, his entreaty, his humble submission and his repentance. Then, if He gives him what he wishes, he thanks Him for His gift, and if He does not grant his request, he concurs with the refusal and patiently accepts His will, with neither protest nor argument. He does not seek enrichment through his religion [din], his pretense [riya’], his hypocrisy [nifaq] and his underhand dealings [tanammus], as you do, O hypocrite [munafiq] ! Pretense, hypocrisy and sins are the cause of poverty, humiliation and dismissal from the door of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). The hypocritical pretender gets the things of this world through his religion, and by assuming the guise of the righteous [as-salihun] without being worthy of it. He adopts their way of speaking and their style of dress, but he does not behave as they behave. He claims to be related to them, though he is no kin of theirs. Your saying: “There is no god but Allah [la ilaha illa’llah] ” is a mere claim [da’wa]. The hard evidence [bayyina] is your total trust [tawakkul] in Him, your confidence [thiqa] in Him, and your heart’s rejection of any other than Him.
O liars, tell the truth! O fugitives from your Master, return! Direct your hearts toward the door of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), become reconciled with Him and apologize to Him. In the state of faith [iman], you take from this world by permission of the sacred law [shar’]. In the state of saintship [wilaya] you receive by virtue of the commandment of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), with both of them bearing witness to it, meaning with the testimony [shahada] of both the Book and the Sunna. In the state of Badaliyya and Qutbiyya, you receive through the action [fi’l] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), as you leave things up to Him.
O young man! Have you no sense of shame? Weep for yourself, because you have been deprived of right direction [sawab] and the help you need to succeed [tawfiq]. Are you not ashamed? One day you are obedient, then disobedient the next. One day you are sincere [mukhlis], but the next you are a polytheist [mushrik]. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported as having said:
If both days are the same for a person, he is defrauded [maghbun], and if someone’s yesterday was better than his today, he is deprived [mahrum].
O young man! You cannot make something happen, but you must play your part. Exert yourself and help will come from your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). Get moving in this ocean in which you are immersed, then the waves will lift you up and roll you toward the shore. The prayer [du’a’] is from you, and the response is from Him. The effort [ijtihad] is from you, and the aid to success [tawfiq] is from Him. The renunciation [tark] is from you, and the protective zeal [hamiyya] is from Him. Be sincere in your quest and He will show you the entrance to His nearness. You will see the hand of His mercy reaching out toward you, and His kindness [lutf], His generosity [karam] and His love [mahabba] all yearning for you. This is the goal of the quest of the [Lord’s] people.
What am I to do with you, O slaves of the lower selves [nufus], the natural impulses [tiba’], the passions [ahwiya] and the devils [shayatin]? I have nothing at my disposal except a truth within a truth [haqq fi haqq], an understanding within an understanding [lubb fi lubb], a purity within a purity [safa’ fi safa’], a separation [qat’] and a connection [wasl]–a separation from everything apart from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and a connection with Him.
I shall not yield to your deluded folly, O hypocrites, O pretenders, O liars! I am not ashamed to confront you. How can I feel any sense of shame before you, when you have no shame before your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), but behave insolently toward Him, and have so little respect for His care and for His angels appointed as your guardians? I possess a candid sincerity [sidq], with which I shall cut off the head of every unbeliever [kafir] and lying hypocrite [munafiq] who does not repent and return to his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) on the feet of his repentance and his apology. A certain wise man (may the mercy of Allah be upon him) is reported as having said: “Candid sincerity is the sword of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) upon His earth. It cuts through anything on which it is brought to bear.”
Take instruction from me, because I am a true counselor [nasih] for you. I seek you for your own sakes. I am dead to you and alive in the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). Those who trust me in friendship will benefit and prosper, but if anyone treats me as a liar and distrusts my friendship, he will be deprived and punished both now and in the future.
The means to real knowledge [ma’rifa] of Him include giving up arguing and remonstrating with Him, and a ready acceptance of His management [tadbir]. This is why Malik ibn Dinar said to one of his pupils: “If you wish for real knowledge of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), you must be happy to accept His management and His ordainment [taqdir], and you must not treat your own self, your desire, your natural impulse and your will [irada] as partners [shuraka’] with Him in these two.”
O you who are sound in body! O you who idly neglect your tasks! What are you missing from your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He)? If your hearts were aware of this, you would feel sorrow and regret. Wake up!
O my people! You will soon be dead. Weep for yourselves, before you are wept over. You have sins crowding an uncertain outcome. Your hearts are sick with love of this world and greed to possess it. Treat them with the medicines of abstinence and renunciation, and by approaching the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). Religious integrity [salamatu’d-din] is the capital, and righteous deeds [al-a’mal as-saliha] are the profits. Stop looking for things that make you go to excess, and be content with what is sufficient for you. An intelligent person takes no pleasure in anything if its lawful use must be accounted for [halaluhu hisab], while its unlawful use incurs punishment [haramuhu ‘iqab]. Most of you have forgotten about the punishment and the reckoning.
O young man! If some worldly object is present before you, and you notice that your heart is recoiling from it, you should leave it alone. But you have no heart. You are nothing but self, natural impulse and desire. You must make friends with those who do possess hearts, until you get a heart of your own. You need a wise Shaikh, who practices the law [hukm] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), to train you, teach you, and give you good advice.
O you who have sold everything for nothing, and paid everything to buy nothing, you have bought this world at the price of the hereafter, and you have sold the hereafter for this world. You are a delusion within a delusion, a void within a void, ignorance within ignorance. You eat as cattle eat, without investigation, without consideration and without question, without conscious intention [niyya], without [waiting to receive] an [inner] command or action. The believer eats what is allowed by the sacred law [shar’]. The saint [wali] is ordered to eat, or forbidden to do so, as indicated by his heart [qalb]. The Badal does not concern himself with anything; things just work within him, while he is in his absence [ghaiba] with his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) and his annihilation [fana’] in Him. Thus the Wali stands by the [inner] commandment, while the Badal is stripped of personal volition [ikhtiyar], and all of this is accompanied by observance of the rules of sacred law [hudud ash-shar’]. One who becomes extinct [fani] to himself and to all creatures still observes the rules of sacred law. Then he is cast adrift in the ocean of divine power [qudra]. Its waves lift him up at one moment, and plunge him down at another. Sometimes they roll him toward the shore, and at other times they let him fall to the depths of the sea. He comes to resemble the Companions of the Cave [Ashab al-Kahf], concerning whom Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said:
And we turned them over to the right, then over to the left. (18:18)
They had no faculties with which to think or plan or feel. They were in the House of Grace and Nearness, with their eyes closed outwardly [zahiran] and inwardly [batinan]. In like manner, therefore, this nearness will have closed the eyes of his heart to everything apart from his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), so that he sees only for His sake and through Him, and hears only from Him.
O Allah, make us extinct to everything apart from You! Cause us to exist in You, and:
Give us in this world good, and good in the hereafter, and guard us against the torment of the fire! (2:201)