SHAIKH 'ABD AL-QADIR STRUGGLES WITH DEVIL ARMIES, WITH IBLIS HIMSELF, AND WITH HIS OWN LOWER SELF [NAFS].
It was Shaikh 'Uthman as-Sirafini who said: "I once heard our master, Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), say:
"'I used to sit in the ruined areas by night and by day, and I did not take a lodging in Baghdad. The devils used to come to me in ranks, in the guise of men bearing weapons of various kinds, and assuming the most alarming shapes and forms. They would engage me in combat, pelting me with fire. Yet even in the face of these terrifying assaults, I would find within my heart an inexpressible sense of reassurance. I would hear a voice saying, from somewhere deep inside: "Stand up and attack them, O 'Abd al-Qadir, for We have already reinforced your strength, and We have come to your support with Our invincible assistance!" Sure enough, as soon as I launched a resolute attack against them, they would flee away to right and left, returning to wherever they had come from.
"'Then a single devil [shaitan] would come to me from amongst them, all by himself, and he would say to me: "Go away from here, or else I shall do this, and I shall do that." He would warn me of many dreadful consequences, so I would slap him with my hand, and he would flee away from me. I would then say: "There is no might and no strength, except with Allah, the All-High, the All-Glorious [la hawla wa la quwwata illa bi'llahi 'l-'Aliyyi 'l-'Azim]," and he would be consumed by fire, as I watched him burn.
"'On one occasion, I was approached by figure whose appearance was utterly repugnant, and who had a disgusting stench about him. "I am Iblis," said he, "and I have come to you in order to act as your servant, for you have thwarted all my efforts, and you have thwarted all the efforts of my followers." I said to him: "Go away, for I do not trust you." At that very moment, a hand came down from above him and struck him on the skull, with such force that he plunged right into the ground.
"'Then he came to me a second time, holding in his hand a dart of fire, with which he attacked me. Just in the nick of time, a man wearing a veil rode up to me on a gray mare, and handed me a sword. Iblis immediately beat a quick retreat.
"'When I saw him a third time, he was sitting at some distance from me, shedding tears and heaping dust on his head, as he said: "I have totally despaired of you, O 'Abd al-Qadir!" I responded to this by telling him: "Be off with you, O accursed one, for I shall never cease to be on my guard against you!" He said: "This is far more agonizing than the grappling irons [maqami'] of the torment of Hell!"
"'I was then made witness to the disclosure of many snares, traps and illusions, so I said: "What are these?" and I was told: "These are the snares of this world, which Iblis sets to catch the likes of you." So I chased him off with angry words, and he turned away in flight.
"'I devoted one whole year to addressing the problems posed by those snares and traps, until I had found solutions to them all. Then I was made witness to the disclosure of many influences, affecting me from every direction, so I said: "What are these?" and I was told: "These are the influences exerted on you by your fellow creatures, and you are affected by them." I therefore devoted another year to tackling the problems posed by those influences, until I had found solutions to them all, and achieved detachment from them.
"'Next, I was made witness to the disclosure of my own inner content [batin], and I saw that my heart was dependent on many attachments. "What are these?" I enquired, and I was told: "These are your self-will [irada] and your personal preferences [ikhtiyarat]." I therefore devoted another year to tackling the problems posed by those factors, until I had found solutions to them all, and my heart was safely delivered from them.
"'Then I was made witness to yet another disclosure, this one concerning my lower self [nafs]. I could see that its sicknesses were still thriving, its passionate desire was still alive, and its devil was still rebellious, so I devoted another year to tackling that state of affairs.
The sicknesses of my lower self were thereby cured, the passion died, the devil surrendered, and the whole affair became the business of Allah (Exalted is He). I was left in a state of isolation, with all existence [wujud] behind me, and I had not yet arrived at my goal.
"'I was therefore attracted to the gate of absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul], through which I might enter to reach my goal. As soon as I came to that gate, I found a huge crowd milling around it, so I moved on past it. Then I was attracted to the gate of thankfulness [shukr], through which I might enter to reach my goal. At this gate too, I encountered a huge crowd, so I moved on past it. I was then attracted to the gate of affluence [ghina], through which I might enter to reach my goal. Here again, I encountered a huge crowd, so I moved on past it. I was then attracted to the gate of nearness [qurb], through which I might enter to reach my goal. As before, I encountered a huge crowd, so I moved on past it. Then I was attracted to the gate of direct vision [mushahada], through which I might enter to reach my goal. That gate was likewise surrounded by a huge crowd, so I moved on past it.
"'I was next attracted to the gate of poverty [faqr], and lo and behold, it was quite empty! When I entered inside it, I rediscovered everything that I had left behind. The greatest treasure was laid open to me there, and I came upon the mightiest splendor, wealth everlasting, and pure freedom. All relics of the past were obliterated, all previous attributes were annulled, and the second ecstasy [wajd] arrived.'"