Archive for the ‘Al Futh ul Ghaib’ Category

The Tenth Discourse of the Revelations of the Unseen
March 2, 2006

On the self and its states

The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment) said: There is Allah, and there is your own self [nafsuka], and you must address the situation. The self is the opponent and enemy of Allah. All things are subordinate to Allah, and the self really belongs to Him as a creature and a possession, but the self entertains presumptions and aspirations bound up with carnal appetite and sensual desire. So if you ally yourself with the divine Truth in opposition and hostility toward the self, you will be for Allah’s sake an adversary to your own self. As Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) said to David (peace be upon him): “O David, I am your indispensable support, so hold fast to your support. True servitude means being an adversary to your own self.”

It is then that your friendship and servitude to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will be confirmed in reality. All that is allotted to you will then come to you for your enjoyment and pleasure. You will be held in honor and esteem, and all things will be ready to serve you with dignity and respect, for they are all subordinate to their Lord and in conformity with Him, since He is their Creator and Originator and they acknowledge their servitude to Him. Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

There is not a thing that does not celebrate His praise, and yet you do not understand their celebration. (17:44)

[Then He turned to the heaven when it was smoke] and said to it and to the earth: “Come both of you, willingly or unwillingly.” They said: “We come, obedient.” (41:11)

Thus servitude-all servitude-consists in opposing your own self. Allah (Exalted is He) says:

Follow not desire, lest it lead you astray from Allah’s path. (38:26)

To David (on him be peace) He said:

Renounce your passionate desire, for it is vexatious.

There is also the well-known story of Abu Yazid al-Bistamii (may Allah have mercy upon him). When he saw the Almighty Lord in a dream, he asked Him: “How can I find the way to You?” The Lord said: “Abandon your self and come here!” In response, the Saint tells us: “I shed my self as a snake sloughs off its skin.”

Thus all good lies in waging total war against the self under all circumstances. If you are in a state of true devotion, therefore, you must oppose the self by not getting involved with people, whether their behavior be unlawful, merely dubious or even well-intentioned, not depending or relying on them, neither fearing them nor pinning any hopes on them, and not coveting any worldly advantages they may enjoy. Do not solicit gifts from them in the form of presents, of alms or charity, or of votive offerings. Get rid of all interest in them and in material concerns to the point where, if you had a wealthy relative, you would not want him to die so that you could inherit his wealth. Separate yourself from creatures in all earnestness. Regard them as a door that swings open and shut, or as a tree that sometimes bears fruit and at other times is barren, all in accordance with the action of a Doer and the management of a Planner, namely Allah (Glorious and Exalted is He), so that you may be one who affirms the Unity of the Lord.

At the same time, however, we must not forget the proper role of human endeavor, to avoid subscribing to the fatalistic doctrine of the Jabariyya. Believe that no human action is accomplished without Allah. Do not worship His creatures and forget Allah, and do not maintain that our actions are independent of Allah, for that will make you an unbeliever, a subscriber to the [extreme free-will doctrine of the] Qadariyya.* You should rather assert that our actions belong to Allah in point of creation, and to His servants in point of ‘acquisition’ [kasb], this being the traditional Islamic statement on the subject of requital by reward or punishment.

Obey Allah’s command in dealing with your fellow creatures. Keep from them what is your allotted share by His command, but do not go beyond this limit. Allah’s verdict in this matter will be imposed on you and on them, so do not be the judge yourself. Your being with them is a decree of destiny, and destiny is shrouded in darkness, so expose that darkness to the Lamp, meaning the Book of Allah and the exemplary practice [Sunna] of His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). Do not step outside these two. If some idea occurs to you, or if you receive an inspiration, check it against the Book and Sunna.

By this criterion, you may find that your idea or inspired notion is declared unlawful. Suppose, for instance, you have received an indication to commit fornication, to practice usury, to consort with dissolute and immoral characters, or to behave in some other sinful manner. This you must repudiate, renounce, refuse to accept and refrain from acting out. Be convinced that it is from Satan the accursed.

Perhaps what you find there will be a license, such as that granted to normal appetites for food, drink, clothing or matrimony. This you should also refuse and decline to accept, recognizing that the suggestion stems from the lower self and its animal cravings, which you are under orders to oppose and combat.

It may also happen that you find nothing in Book and Sunna to show that what has occurred to you is under either prohibition or license. Maybe it is something you are at a loss to understand, like an urge prompting you to go to such-and-such a place to meet a certain good man, although you have nothing to gain there or from the good person concerned, since your needs are already taken care of through the knowledge and wisdom Allah has graciously bestowed on you. In a case like this, you should pause and not react immediately. Instead of saying, “This is an inspiration from the Truth [al-Haqq] (Glorious and Exalted is He) so I shall act upon it,” prefer to wait for the full potential benefit. The divine Truth works in such a way that the inspiration [ilham] will be clarified through repetition, and you will be told what steps to take. To people with knowledge [‘ilm] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), a sign will be revealed, intelligible only to saints of mature understanding and confirmed Abdal.

The reason for not being in great haste to act is that you do not know the consequences and the ultimate purpose of the affair, nor the snares and pitfalls it contains, with cunning tests devised by Allah. So be patient until He is the one at work within you. When the action is absolutely stripped of self, and you are borne toward that destination, you will be carried safely through any trial that may still confront you, because Allah (Exalted is He) will not chastise you for His own doing; no penalty can apply to you unless you get personally involved.

If you are in the state of reality [Haqiqa], which is the state of sainthood [wilaya], you must oppose your passions and obey the commandments in their entirety. Obedience to the commandments is of two kinds:

One kind means taking just enough from this world to supply your genuine personal needs, forsaking extravagant indulgence, performing your religious duties, and making efforts to get rid of your sins, both outwardly and inwardly.

The second kind is obedience to an inner command, one by which the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) orders or forbids His servant to do something. Such commands apply only in the sphere of ‘neutral’ matters, which are not covered by any positive injunction in Islamic law, in the sense that they belong neither to the category of prohibited things, nor to the category of things that are obligatory; since they are legally indifferent, the servant being at liberty to handle them according to his own discretion, they are called mubah [neutral/indifferent/permissible]. Rather than taking any initiative in this area, the servant should wait to receive instructions, then obey the order when it comes. He will thus be with Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) in all his doings, whether in movement or at rest, through his respect for the rules of sacred law where they apply, and that inner commandment in other cases. At this stage he genuinely belongs among the People of Reality [ahl al-Haqiqa].

In the absence even of this inner commandment, there is nothing for it but spontaneous action in a state of surrender. If you are in touch with the truth of truth, this is the state of obliteration [mahw] and annihilation [fana’], the state of the Abdal who are broken-hearted on account of Him, the state of pure monotheists, men of enlightened wisdom, endowed with knowledge and power of understanding, the commanders-in-chief, the wardens and guardians of mankind, the vicegerents of the All-Merciful, and His intimates and helpers and friends, peace be upon them.

To obey the commandment in such matters means going against your own self, emptied of any power or strength, utterly devoid of all will and ambition for anything of this world or the hereafter. You come to be the servant of the King, not of the Kingdom, of His commandment and not of whim and passion. You come to resemble a babe at his nurse’s breast, a corpse receiving its ritual wash, a patient lying sprawled for treatment by the doctor, in all that is not subject to the injunctions and prohibitions [specified by the sacred law].

Only Allah is All-Knowing!

* Qadariyya should not be confused with the Qadiriyya.For more on the Qadariyya, see the Shaikh’s exposition on the 73 Sects in Volume 1 of Al-Ghunya li-Talibin.

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The Seventh Discourse of the Revelations of the Unseen
February 27, 2006

On removing the cares of the heart [qalb]The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment) said:

Step out of your own self and keep your distance from it. Practice detachment from your possessiveness, and surrender everything to Allah. Become His doorman at the door of your heart, obeying His command by admitting those He instructs you to admit, and respecting His prohibition by shutting out those He instructs you to turn away, so that you do not let passion back into your heart once it has been evicted. Passion is expelled from the heart by resistance to it and refusal to follow its urges, whatever the circumstances, while compliance and acquiescence allow it to gain entry. So do not exert any will apart from His will, for anything else is your own desire, and that is the Vale of Folly, where death and destruction await you, and falling from His sight and becoming secluded from Him. Always keep His commandments, always respect His prohibitions, and always submit to what He has decreed. Do not associate Him with any part of His creation. Your will, your passions and your carnal appetites all belong to His creation, so refrain from indulging any of them lest you become a polytheist. Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

Whoever hopes to meet his Lord, let him do righteous work, and make none sharer in the worship due unto his Lord. (18:110)

Polytheism [shirk] is not merely the worship of idols. It is also polytheism to yield to your own passionate desire, and to equate with your Lord anything whatsoever besides Him, be it of this world and its contents or of the Hereafter and what is contained therein. What is besides Him (Almighty and Glorious is He) is other than He, so when you rely on anything other than Him you are associating something else with Him (Almighty and Glorious is He). Therefore be wary and do not relax your guard, be fearful and do not develop a sense of security, and keep your wits about you so that you do not become careless and complacent.

Do not attribute any state or station to yourself, and have no pretensions to such things. If you are granted a special state, or elevated to some station, do not become identified with that in any way at all, for Allah is every day about some business, effecting change and transformation. He may intervene between a man and his heart, thereby separating you from what you had professed to be your own, and making you different from what you had imagined to be your fixed and permanent condition. You will then be embarrassed in the presence of those to whom you made such claims, so you had better keep these things to yourself and not convey them to others. If something does prove stable and lasting, acknowledge it as a gift, pray for the grace to be thankful, and keep it out of sight. But even if it turns out otherwise, it will still bring progress in knowledge and understanding, enlightenment, alertness and discipline. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said:

Such of Our revelations as We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We replace with one better or as good. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things? (2:106)

So do not underestimate the extent of Allah’s power, have no misgivings about His planning and His management, and never doubt His promise. Take as your model the fine example set by Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). He experienced the abrogation of verses and chapters revealed to him, adopted in practice, recited in the niches [of the mosques], and written down in books; as they were withdrawn and changed and replaced by others, the blessed Prophet was moved to accept the new revelations. This applies to the external dispensation of the law. As for the inner aspect, the knowledge and spiritual state experienced in his own relationship with Allah, he used to say: “My heart gets coated with rust, so I beg Allah’s forgiveness seventy times each day” (“a hundred times,” according to another report).

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) would be moved from one state of being to another, and made to traverse the stations of divine proximity and the spheres of the unseen. The robes of light conferred upon him were changed as he progressed, so that each new stage would make the previous one seem dark, marred by shortcomings and inadequate observance of the guidelines. Thus he was trained to practice praying for forgiveness, because that is the best state for a servant, and constant repentance, because this involves acknowledgment of sin and shortcoming–properties of human nature inherited from Adam (peace be upon him), the father of mankind.

When the purity of Adam’s spiritual state was stained by forgetfulness of the promise and covenant, he wished to dwell forever in the abode of peace, in the vicinity of the All-Merciful and Beneficent Friend, visited by the noble angels with greeting and salutation, but his self-will had come to be associated with the will of the Truth. That will of his was therefore broken, that state disappeared, that intimacy became remote, that station was degraded, those lights were dimmed, and that purity was spoiled. Then this chosen one of the All-Merciful recovered his awareness and was reminded. After being instructed in the acknowledgment of sin and forgetfulness, and trained in confession, he said: “Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You do not forgive us, and have mercy on us, we shall surely be among the lost!” (7:23).

Then came to him the light of guidance, the knowledge and inner understanding of repentance and its hidden benefits, but for which something formerly mysterious would not have become manifest. That old will was replaced by a different one, and the original state by another. He received the supreme consecration, and repose in this world and then in the hereafter, for this world became a home for him and his offspring, and the hereafter their refuge and eternal resting place.

In Allah’s Messenger and favorite friend, therefore, as in his father Adam, the Chosen of Allah, ancestor of all dear and loving friends, you have an example to follow in confessing faults and praying for forgiveness under all circumstances.

The Eighth Discourse of the Revelations of the Unseen
February 25, 2006

On drawing near to Allah

The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment) said: When you are in a particular condition, do not seek to exchange it for another, whether higher or lower. If you are at the gate of the King’s palace, therefore, do not seek admittance to the palace itself until you are obliged to enter, under compulsion and not of your own accord. By compulsion I mean a stern, insistently repeated command. Do not content yourself with mere permission to enter, since this may be just a trick and deception on the King’s part. You should rather wait patiently until you are compelled to go in, so that your entry into the palace will be through sheer coercion and gracious favor from the King. Then, since the action is the King’s own, He will not chastise you for it. If any punishment is meted out to you, it will only be due to your wrong motivation, greed, impatience, uncouthness and discontentment with the situation in which you have been placed. When you do gain an entree to the palace, you must therefore bow your head in silence, keep your eyes modestly downcast and mind your manners as you perform the tasks and services assigned to you, without seeking promotion to the highest summit. Consider the words of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He):Strain not your eyes toward that which We have given for some pairs among them to enjoy–the flower of this world’s life, that We may thereby put them to the test. Your Lord’s provision is better and more lasting. (20:131)

This is an admonition by which He instructs His chosen Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) regarding attention to one’s present state and contentment with gifts received. To paraphrase His words, “Your Lord’s provision is better and more lasting,” He is saying: “What I have given you in the way of good news, prophethood, knowledge, satisfaction, patience, the guardianship of religion and a firm support therein-all this is more fitting and appropriate than anything I have given [to others].”

Thus all good lies in due attention to one’s existing condition, in being content with it and ceasing to hanker after alternatives, for it can only be that something is yours by lot or is destined for another, unless it belongs to nobody and Allah has created it only as a trial. If it is destined for you, it will come to you, like it or not. Any display of unseemly conduct and greed in its pursuit would therefore be improper on your part, with nothing in knowledge or reason to commend it. If it is destined for somebody else, spare yourself the futile effort of chasing something which you cannot get and which will never come your way. If it is only a trial, not destined to belong to anyone at all, how could an intelligent person find it worth his while to pursue such a thing and seek to acquire it for himself? Thus it is proven that all good and safety lie in properly attending to one’s present state.

When you are promoted to the upstairs room, and then to the roof, you must observe all the proprieties of quiet and polite behavior we have already mentioned. In fact you should redouble your efforts in that regard, because you are now closer to the King and nearer to danger. So do not wish for a change of state whether by promotion or demotion, and desire neither permanence and continuity nor alteration in your existing condition. You should have no self-willed option whatsoever, since that would amount to ingratitude for present blessings, and ingratitude brings disgrace upon him who is guilty thereof, in this world and the hereafter.

Let your conduct always be as we have told you, until you are promoted to a position which will become a permanent station for you, from which you will not be removed. You will then recognize it as a gift, self-explanatory and self-evident, so cling to it and do not let go. Ordinary saints [awliya’] have changeable states, while permanent stations belong to the Abdal.

Allah is in charge of your guidance!

 

The Thirteenth Discourse of the Revelations of the Unseen
February 22, 2006

On submission to Allah’s command

The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment) said:

Do not exert yourself to attract prosperity or to avert misfortune. Prosperity will come to you if it is your lot, whether you seek to acquire it or view it with distaste. Misfortune will likewise overtake you if it is meant for you by destiny’s decree, whether you be averse to it, or pray for it to go away, or confront it with patience and fortitude to please the Lord.

Your only resort is total surrender, allowing the process to work within you. If the experience proves to be a happy one, you must endeavor to show gratitude. Should it be an ordeal, you must exercise patience and perseverance, try to accept it with good grace, or lose yourself in it and become detached by virtue of the spiritual states [halat] you are given to traverse, and the stations [manazil] to which you are made to travel on the path of the Lord, whom you are commanded to obey and befriend, that you may get to meet the Companion Most High.

You will then be installed in a position where your predecessors are the champions of the truth, the martyrs and the righteous, so that you may see with your own eyes all those who have gone before you to reach the King, who have drawn close to Him and found in His presence every exquisite delight, joy and security, honor and bliss.

Let tribulation visit you. Allow it to take its course, and do not fret about its onset and approach, for its fire is not more terrible than the fire of Hell and its blazing inferno. According to traditions reliably ascribed to the best of humankind, the best of those ever carried by the earth and sheltered by the sky, Muhammad the Chosen (Allah bless him and give him peace), he said: “The fire of Hell will say to the believer, ‘Move on, believer! Your light has extinguished my flame!’ “

Is the believer’s light that puts out the flame of Hell any other than the one that escorts him in this world, while disobedient sinners go unguided by it? Let this same light extinguish misfortune’s flame, and let the coolness of your patience and your harmony with the Lord take the heat out of the suffering you have to undergo. The affliction will then have come not to destroy you, but to try you and to confirm the soundness of your faith, to consolidate the strength of your conviction, and to give you inwardly the good news from your Lord that He is proud of you. Allah (Exalted is He) says:

Indeed We shall try you till We know those among you who strive hard and persevere in patience, and till We test your record. (47:31)

When your faith has been established with the Lord of Truth, and you have conformed to His work with full conviction, all through His help and grace, you must then be ever patient, compliant and submissive. Let nothing happen in yourself or in others that would go against the commandments or the prohibitions of the Lord. Then, when an order is received from Him (Almighty and Glorious is He), give it your full attention and be quick to respond. Get moving and do not sit around. Far from being passively resigned to the divine decree and its action, you must exert your faculties and make every effort to carry out the order.

If you find yourself incapable of this, you must at once take refuge with your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). Resort to Him and humbly beg for pardon. Look for the cause of your inability to carry out His order, and for what impedes your inclination to obey Him. The problem may be due to your asking for trouble and behaving with bad grace in His service, to your frivolous attitude and confidence in your own ability and strength, to your conceited pride in your own knowledge, or to your associating your own self and His creatures with Him. As a result, He has barred you from His door, dismissed you from His obedient service, deprived you of the support of His helpful guidance, turned His gracious countenance away from you, treated you with disgust and loathing, and left you engrossed in your worldly worries, passions, self-will and desires.

Do you not recognize that all of this distracts you from your aim, and keeps you from the sight of Him who has created you, nourished you, blessed you with many gifts, and kept you alive?

Beware of being diverted from your Lord by anything other than your Lord. Everything besides your Lord is other than He, so accept nothing else in preference to Him, since He has created you for His own sake. Do not wrong your own soul by being preoccupied with other things to the neglect of His commandments, for that will cause you to enter the “Fire, whose fuel is men and stones” (2:24). You will be sorry, but your sorrow will not avail you. You will make excuses, but no excuse will be accepted. You will plead for another chance, but your plea will not be granted. You will seek to return to this world to make amends and put things right, but you will not be allowed to return.

Take pity on your soul and be kind to it. Make good use of the tools and instruments you have been given, by dedicating your intelligence, faith, inner awareness and knowledge to the service of your Lord. Let their light provide illumination amid the darkness of destiny. Hold fast to the divine commands and prohibitions, use them as guidelines on the path of your Lord, and leave the rest to the safekeeping of the One who created you and brought you into being. Be not ungrateful to Him who created you from dust and made you grow, who developed you from a sperm into a man. Do not wish for anything but that which He commands, and have no aversion except for that which He forbids. Let this wish be enough for all purposes of this world and the hereafter, and this aversion likewise. When you are in conformity with His commandment, all beings are at your command, and when you detest what He forbids, all loathsome things will flee from you wherever you happen to be or make your stay. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said in one of His Books:

O son of Adam, I am Allah; there is none worthy of worship besides Me. I say to a thing, “Be,” and it comes into being. Obey Me; I will make you such that you say to a thing, “Be,” and there it will be.

He has also said (Almighty and Glorious is He):

(more…)

The Sixteenth Discourse of the Revelations of the Unseen
February 21, 2006

On trust and its stages

The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment) said:

Nothing blocks you from direct receiving of Allah’s grace and favor except your reliance upon people and connections, on good turns and handouts. Thus creatures are your obstacle to gaining a proper livelihood, in keeping with the exemplary practice of the Prophet. As long as you continue to depend on fellow creatures, hoping for their gifts and favors, going from door to door with your requests, you are associating His creation with Allah. He will therefore punish you with deprivation of that proper livelihood, namely the lawful earnings of this world.

Then, when you have renounced the habit of depending on people and associating them with your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), and have resorted to earning your own livelihood, you get to rely on this earning power and become complacent about it, forgetting the gracious favor of your Lord. You are once again behaving like a polytheist [mushrik], only now the polytheism [shirk] is concealed, of a subtler nature than the previous kind. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will therefore punish you by depriving you of His favor and of direct access to Him.

When you turn from this in repentance, ceasing to allow the encroachment of polytheism, and forsaking reliance on your own earning power and abilities, you will see that Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) is the Provider. It is He who supplies the means, the facilities and the energy one needs to make a living, and He is the One who enables all good results to be achieved. All sustenance is in His hand. At times He may supply it to you by way of other people, through your appealing to them while in distress or trying straits, or in response to your appeal to Him (Almighty and Glorious is He), sometimes by way of earned remuneration, and at still other times by His spontaneous favor, in such a way that you do not see the intervening cause and means.

You have turned again to Him, casting yourself down before Him, and He has lifted the veil between you and His favor. He has made Himself accessible to you, and graciously ministers to all your needs in the measure appropriate to your condition, acting like a kind and tactful physician who is also a friend to the patient. As a precaution on His part, and to purge you of any attachment to anyone but Him, He satisfies you with His favor.

Once your heart has been detached from all self-will, all lust and indulgence, craving and desire, there is nothing left in your heart except His will (Almighty and Glorious is He). So when He wishes to send you your allotted share (which you are bound to receive and which is not earmarked for any of His creatures apart from you), He will cause a desire for that share to arise within you, and will dispatch it to you so that it reaches you when you need it. Then He will help you to recognize that it comes from Him and to acknowledge Him with conscious gratitude as the sender and supplier of what you have received. As this moves you further away from attachment to creatures, from involvement with people, your inner being is emptied of all besides Him (Almighty and Glorious is He).

Then, when your knowledge and conviction have been fortified, when your feelings have been expanded and your heart has been enlightened, and your nearness to your Lord and your standing in His sight have thereby increased, as well your competence for the guarding of secrets, you will be allowed to know beforehand when you are to receive your allotted share. This privilege will be granted in your honor, to exalt your dignity, as a gracious favor and guidance from Him. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said:

And We appointed from among them leaders guiding by Our command, when they endured patiently, and had sure faith in Our signs. (32:24)

Allah (Exalted is He) also says:

As for those who strive in Our cause, We surely guide them in Our ways. (29:69)

And the Exalted One says:

Observe your duty to Allah. Allah will teach you. (2:282)

Then He will invest you with creative power, which you may exercise with clear and unambiguous permission, with tokens brilliant as the radiant sun, with His sweet words far sweeter than all sweetness, with inspiration true and unequivocal, untainted by the promptings of the self and the whisperings of Satan the accursed. Allah (Exalted is He) has said in one of His scriptures:

O son of Adam, I am Allah. There is none worthy of worship but I alone. I say to a thing, “Be,” and it comes into being. Obey Me and I will make you such that you say to a thing, “Be,” and it will come into being.

Thus He has dealt with many of His Prophets, His saints, and His special favorites among the children of Adam.