It was in the early morning of Sunday, the 24th of Shawwal, A.H. 545, that the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) said:
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported as having said:
I and the truly devout members of my Community [umma] are free from affectation [takalluf].
One who is truly devout [taqi] does not perform his worship of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) in an affected manner, because it has become quite natural to him, so he worships Allah both outwardly and inwardly without any affectation on his part.
As for the hypocrite [munafiq], he is always pretending, wherever he may be and whatever he may be doing, especially when it comes to the worship of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), which he fakes on the surface and inwardly neglects. He is incapable of experiencing the conduct of the truly devout. Every place has its motto [li-kulli makan maqal], and every job has men who are right for it [li-kulli ‘amal rijal]; for war some men are naturally suited. O hypocrites, repent your hypocrisy! Come back from your fugitive exile! How can you let Satan laugh at you and vent his malice on you? You may perform the salat-prayers and keep the fast, but you do this for the sake of creatures, not for the sake of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), and the same is true if you give charity [tasaddaqtum], pay the alms-due [zakkaitum] and go on pilgrimage [hajajtum]. You are: “Toiling, weary” (88:3). Soon you will be exposed to the heat of a scorching fire, if you do not come to your senses, repent and make amends. You must follow [the traditional Islamic practices] without heretical innovation [ibtida’]. You must follow the teachings [madhhab] of the righteous predecessors [as-salaf as-salih]. Walk on the straight highroad [al-jadda al-mustaqima]. No extremes of religious doctrine! [la tashbih wa-la ta’til : lit., no ascription of human characteristics (to Allah), and no denial of all attributes (to Him)]. Just follow the Sunna [exemplary practice] of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) without affectation and artificiality [tatabbu’], without bigotry [tashaddud], without bragging [tamashduq] and intellectual pretentiousness [tama’qul]. You should be capable of what was possible for those who have gone before you.
Woe unto you! You learn the Qur’an by heart, but you do not put it into practice. You memorize the Sunna of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), but you do not practice it. So what do you do this for? You tell other people what they must do, but you do not do it yourself. You tell them what they must not do, but you do not refrain from it. As the Almighty and Glorious One has said:
It is most hateful in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do. (61:2)
Why do you say things and then contradict them? Have you no sense of shame? Why do you lay claim to faith, when you do not believe? Faith [al-iman] is the opponent of disasters. It is the patient bearer of our burdens. It is the wrestler. It is the fighter. Faith is the generous distributor of its worldly fortune. Faith behaves generously for the sake of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), while desire acts generously for the sake of the devil and for selfish purposes. He who has missed the door of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) sits at the doors of His creatures. He who has lost the path [tariq] of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) and gone astray from it, stays on the path of creatures. When Allah wishes someone well, He shuts the doors of creatures in his face, and cuts him off from their gifts, in order to bring that person back to Himself. He directs him away from the inland creeks toward the river bank. He directs him away from nothing toward something.
Woe unto you! You are happy to be dwelling beside the creeks in [the cool rainy season of] winter, but soon the [fiercely hot] summer will come and your water will all dry up. So you will die, unlike the man who lives on the bank of the great river, because his supply of water is not exhausted in the summer, and in the winter it increases and becomes very plentiful. Be with Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), then you will become a rich man [ghani], a noble [‘aziz], a leader [amir], a commander [mu’mir], a guide [dalil]. When someone has no need of anything but Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), everything has need of him. This is something that does not come about through passive resignation [takhalli] and mere wishing [tamanni], but through something that becomes settled in the bosom [fi’s-sudur] and is confirmed by active work [‘amal].
O young man! Let dumb silence be your custom, unobtrusiveness your habit, and fleeing from creatures your whole aim and purpose. If you can dig yourself a den in the earth to hide away in, do it. This should be your regular practice until your faith has matured, your certitude [iqan] has gained a firm footing, the wing of your truthfulness [sidq] has grown all its feathers, and the eyes of your heart have both opened. Then you may rise up from your home in the ground and fly into the air of the knowledge of Allah. You will roam through the East and the West, over land and sea, across the plains and the mountains. You will tour the heavens and the regions of the earth, in the company of the Guide [Dalil], the Guardian [Khafir], the Companion [Rafiq]. So now set your tongue free to speak. Cast off the habit of unobtrusiveness. Stop running away from people, and come out of your den to meet them, since you can be a remedy for them without detriment to yourself. Never mind how few they may happen to be, or how many, and whether they come forward or back away. Be indifferent to their praise and their blame alike. Never mind. Wherever you alight, you will glean what you can [aina saqatta laqatta]. And you are with your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He).
O my people! Be aware of this Creator, and practice good behavior in His presence. As long as your hearts are remote from Him, you will behave toward Him badly, but when they draw near, your conduct will improve. The pages at the palace gate indulge in foolish banter before the royal procession, but when the king rides by, a dumb silence falls upon them and they start to behave correctly, because they are now close to him. Each of them scurries to his corner.
Paying court to creatures is the very same thing as turning one’s back on the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). You will find no salvation [falah] until you break off relations with people of influence and means, and stop regarding creatures as the source of benefit and loss. You are healthy yet sick, rich yet poor, alive yet dead, existent yet nonexistent. Till when this running away from the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) and avoidance of Him? Till when the cultivation of this world and the devastation of the hereafter? Each one of you has but a single heart, so how can he love both worlds with it? How can it contain both the Creator and the creation [al-khaliq wa’l-khalq]? How can this be achieved as a simultaneous condition in a single heart? This is a falsehood, and as the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) says:
Falsehood holds itself aloof from faith [al-kadhibu mujanibu’l-iman].
Each earthenware pot exudes its own contents. Your deeds are clues to the firmness of your belief [i’tiqad]. Your outer is a clue to your inner. This is why a certain wise man said: “The outer is the address of the inner [az-zahir ‘unwan al-batin].” Your inner is outwardly apparent to the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) and to His special favorites [khawass] among His servants. If one of these should ever come your way, you must behave decently in his presence. Repent your sins before meeting with him, consider yourself insignificant beside him, and relate to him with humility. If you humble yourself for the sake of the righteous [as-salihun], you are likely to be humble toward Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). Humble yourself, therefore, because when a person humbles himself, Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will raise him up high. Be on your best behavior with anyone who is senior to you, because the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:
Blessed grace [baraka] resides in your seniors [akabir].
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was not intending to refer to seniority in age alone, but to advanced age combined with pious dedication [taqwa] to fulfilling the commandments and observing the prohibitions [of the sacred law], and constant adherence to the Book and the Sunna [i.e., the Qur’an and the Prophet’s exemplary practice]. Of course not, because there is many an elder [shaikh] who deserves neither respect nor salutation, and in seeing whom there is no blessed grace. The Seniors [al-akabir] are the devout [al-muttaqun], the righteous [as-salihun], the pious [al-mutawarri’un], who put their knowledge into practice [al-‘amiluna bi’l-‘ilm] and who are sincere in their practice [al-mukhlisun fi’l-‘amal]. The Seniors are the pure hearts that turn away from everything apart from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). The Seniors are the wise hearts with experience of Allah [al-‘arifa bi’llah] (Almighty and Glorious is He), that know and are close to Him.
Whenever hearts abound in knowledge, they draw nearer to their Master (Almighty and Glorious is He). Whenever a heart contains love of this world, it is screened from Allah, and whenever a heart contains love of the hereafter, it is barred from nearness to Allah. To the degree of your longing [raghba] for this world, your longing for the hereafter is diminished, and to the degree of your longing for the hereafter, your longing for the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) is diminished. Be aware of your degrees, and do not assign yourselves to a level [manzil] on which Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has not placed you. This is why a certain wise man said: “If someone is not aware of his own degree, the decrees of destiny will make him aware of it [man lam ya’rif qadrahu ‘arrafat-hu’l-aqdaru qadrahu].” Do not sit in a place from which you will be made to get up. When you enter a house, do not sit in a place in which the master of the house has not invited you to sit, because you may be told to move. If you refuse, you will be forced to get up, suffer humiliation, and be obliged to leave.
O young man! You have been wasting your life on the study of books and memorizing the knowledge in them without putting it into practice. What good will it do you? As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:
Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will say to the Prophets and the scholars on the Day of Resurrection: “You were the shepherds of the people, so how did you care for your flocks?” And He will say to the kings and the rich folk: “You were the custodians of my treasures. Did you reach out to the poor? Did you educate the orphans? Did you refund My due, which I prescribed to you?”
O my people! Take warning from the admonitions of the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) and accept what he tells you. Your hearts are so hard! Glory be to the One who has made me capable of putting up with creatures! Whenever I yearn to fly away, along come the scissors of destiny to clip my wings, and yet I find consolation, of course, in the fact that I am residing in the parklands [barah] of the King.
Woe unto you, O hypocrite, you wish I would leave this town. If I did move on, the situation would be altered, the members would split up, and it would be a different story. But I fear the punishment of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) on account of the undue haste. I do not chart my own course; no, I cannot match the skill of destiny, so I comply with His wishes and submit to Him. O Allah, [grant] peace and salvation [salaman wa-tasliman]!”
Woe unto you! You scoff at me while I am standing by the door of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). Summon the people to Him; you will see your response. I build one cubit upward and thousands downward. O hypocrites, you will see the torment of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and His punishment in this world and the hereafter. The time is pregnant [hubla]; you will see what comes of it. I am subject to the transformative power [taqlib] of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). Now He makes me become a mountain, then He turns me into a speck of dust. Now He makes me become an ocean, then He turns me into a drop of water. Now He makes me become a sun, then He turns me into a spark and a flash of lightning. He switches me around, as He switches night and day.
Every day He is about some awesome business. (55:29)
At every moment, indeed. You have all day, while others have this moment.
O young man! If you wish to breathe easy and feel good at heart [in aradta sa’ata’s-sadri wa-tiba’l-qalb: lit., if you wish for expansiveness of the breast and goodness of the heart], do not listen to what people say, and pay no attention to their talk. Surely you know that many of them are neither intelligent nor perceptive, and that they have no faith [la yu’minun], but actually disbelieve and do not accept the truth? Follow the group [qawm] who understand none but the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), who listen to none but Him, and who see none but Him. Suffer with patience the harm done by people, as you seek the good pleasure [rida] of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). Patiently endure the various trials by which He puts you to the test.
This is the normal practice [da’b] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) in dealing with His humble chosen servants [ma’a ‘ibadihi’l-mustafaina’l-mukhbitin]. He cuts them off from everything, and tests them with various misfortunes, disasters and ordeals. He makes things cramped for them in this world and the hereafter, and everywhere from the heavenly throne [al-‘arsh] to the earth below. Thus He annihilates their existence. Then, when He has annihilated their present existence, He brings them into being for Him and for no other. He makes them reside with Him and not with any other. He produces them as another creation. In His own words (Almighty and Glorious is He):
Then We produced it as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators! (23:14)
The first creation was generic [mushtarak], but this creation is uniquely individual [mufrad]. He makes him distinct from his brethren and all other members of the human race. He changes his former character [ma’na] and replaces it. He makes what was his high point become his low point. He makes him a holy [rabbani: lit., belonging entirely to the Lord], spiritual [ruhani] being, whose heart has no room for contemplating creation, and the door of whose innermost being [sirr] is barred to creatures. He makes this world and the hereafter, the Garden [of Paradise] and the Fire [of Hell], and all created things and entities, appear to him as one single thing. Then He hands this thing over to his innermost being, and he swallows it whole, although there is no sign of his having done so.
Thus He manifests His power, as He manifested it in the staff of Moses (peace be upon him). Glory be to the One who manifests His power in whatever He wishes to whomever He wishes! The staff of Moses swallowed many bulky objects, such as ropes and other things, without any change in its shape and size. The Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) wished to teach them that this was divine power [qudra] at work, not philosophical wisdom [hikma], because what the magicians [sahara] did on that day was philosophy and mechanical engineering [handasa], whereas what was manifested in the staff of Moses (peace be upon him) was power from the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), a preter-natural phenomenon [kharq ‘ada] and a miracle [mu’jiza]. This is why the leader of the magicians said to one of his companions: “Take a look at Moses. What condition is he in?” and the man replied: “His complexion seems to have altered, and the staff is doing its work.” Then he said: “This is through the action of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), not of his own doing, because a magician is not afraid of his own magic [sihr] and the craftsman does not fear his own work.” Then he believed in Him, and his companions followed his lead.
O young man! When will you move up from wisdom to power? When will your putting wisdom into practice lead you to the power of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He)? When will your sincerity [ikhlas] in your actions lead you to the door of nearness to your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He)? When will the sun of direct knowledge [ma’rifa] let you see the faces of the hearts of the common folk [al-‘awamm] and the elite [al-khawass]?
Do not flee from the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) on account of His trials. He is only testing you to find out whether or not you will go back to material concerns [as-sabab] and leave His door. Will you revert to the outer or to the inner? To the perceptible or to the imperceptible? To the visible or to the invisible?
O Allah, do not put us to the test! O Allah, bless us with nearness to You without a trial! O Allah, [grant us] nearness and kindness! O Allah, [grant] nearness with no remoteness! We lack the strength to bear remoteness from You, and to suffer tribulation, so bless us with nearness to You, as well as not having to go through the fire of misfortunes. But if there is to be no escape from the fire of misfortunes, let us experience it like the salamander, which is born and bred in the fire, and is neither harmed nor burned by it. Let it be for us like the fire of Abraham, Your special friend [khalil]. Cause herbs to grow all around us, as You caused them to grow around him. Enable us to need nothing at all, as You enabled him. Befriend us and take care of us, as You took care of him, and protect us as You protected him. Amin.
Abraham (peace be upon him) found the companion [rafiq] before the road [tariq], the neighbor [jar] before the house [dar], the close friend [anis] before the loneliness, the healthy diet [himya] before the sickness, patience before the affliction, and cheerful acceptance before the verdict. Learn from your father Abraham (peace be upon him). Take him as your model in his words and his deeds. Glory be to the One who treated him kindly in the sea of his misfortune; the One who set him the task of swimming in the sea of affliction and helped him through it; the One who set him the task of charging against the enemy, while He was by the horse’s head; the One who set him the task of climbing to a lofty spot, while His hand was at his back; the One who set him the task of inviting the people to his meal, while He took care of the expense! This is the inner, hidden kindness.
O young man! Be with Allah in silence at the advent of His decree and His action, so that you may experience many kindnesses from Him. Have you not heard of young Galen the philosopher [Jalinus al-hakim], and how he pretended to be dumb and stupid and speechless, until he became the store of all knowledge? The wisdom of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will not come toward your heart because of your frequent raving, your quarreling and finding fault with Him.
O Allah, bless us with harmony and the abandonment of discord, and:
Give us in this world good, and good in the hereafter, and guard us against the torment of the fire! (2:201)