Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Works of the Heart

When the heart acts in accordance with the Book and the Sunna, it draws near. Once it has become close, it will come to know and see its credits and faults, what belongs to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and what belongs to others, and what belongs to the truth and what belongs to falsehood.

When this heart becomes pure and sound, it will hear the call of the True One from its six directions. It will hear the call of every prophet, messenger, saint, and truthful person (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them). At this stage, it will draw near to Him so that its life will mean nearness to Him and its death will mean remoteness from Him. Its satisfaction will be in having private conversation with Him. It will become totally content with that to the exclusion of anything else. It will not care if this world turned its back to it and will not care about hunger, thirst, nakedness, and all diseases.

Woe to you! All what you are about and all what you are involved in are illusion within illusion which Allah will pay no attention to. This business is not achieved by deeds of the body but by works of the heart. Our Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said: “Renunciation is here, piety is here, sincerity is here,” and he pointed to his breast.

This heart will not be sound and will not attain success until it gives up every beloved, cuts off every object of attachment, and renounces every creature. Give up and you will be rewarded with much better than what you abandoned. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said: “When a person gives up something [for the sake of Allah], Allah compensates him with something better.” O Allah, wake our hearts up so that they attend to you, awaken us from our forgetfulness of You, and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”

When this heart has become sound and planted its feet firm at the door of the True One, it will fall in the wilderness of “‘be,’ and it is,” in its valleys, and in its sea. It will exist there sometimes with its words, sometimes with its aspiration, and sometimes with its sight. It will start to behave as commanded by Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and it isolates itself from any detachments; it will become in a state of extinction, and only He will remain. Only a minority of you believe in this; the majority do not. Believing in this is sainthood and putting it into practice is attainment. No one denies the spiritual states of the righteous people other than a hypocritical impostor who is riding on his passion.

This business is based on having sound belief and applying the outward of the Law which will cause the person to inherit knowingness of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and Knowledge of Him. The Law will come to be between him and the creatures, whereas Knowledge will be between him and his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). His outward deeds will be as little as an atom in comparison with the mountain of his inward deeds. His limbs and senses will rest but his heart will never do. The eyes in his head may doze off but the eyes of his heart will never sleep. His heart will work unceasingly and remember Allah while he is asleep. When will you know this world so that you give it up and divorce it?

Wayfaring is the wayfaring of the hearts and attainment is the attainment of the innermost beings. When the innermost beings achieve attainment they become kings and the limbs and senses become followers and an entourage. When the heart arrives at the door it asks for permission for the innermost being to enter. The innermost being enters and then the heart follows.

O young man, consult the Book and the Sunna in all of your affairs. When you find a certain matter of your religion confusing say: “What do you say about it, O Book of Allah? What do you say about it, O Sunna? What do you say about this problem, O Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) ? What do you say about it, O my shaikh who has shown me the way to the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) ? What do you say about it, O Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) who has shown me the way to the Sender?” If you do this, your problem will be solved and the darkness you are in will disappear. When anything poses a problem for you, ask about it outwardly the people of the Law and inwardly your heart. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) once said to a righteous man: “Consult your heart even if the legal experts have offered you advice.” See what your inward says even though you have sought the opinions of legal experts. See what is in your heart and what it suggests even if the legal experts have offered you their opinions. Seek the advice of the ushers, doorkeepers, and ministers then enter into the presence of the king and see what he has to say. If the heart agreed, this is a welcome agreement, but if it disagreed, follow its ruling and ignore the ruling of anyone else.

Among the signs of wretchedness of the servant is the hardness of his heart, dryness of his eyes, wideness of his hopes, his niggardliness about his property, giving little importance to the commandments and prohibitions, and his dissatisfaction when tribulations strike. When you see someone of this description, be aware that he is wretched. The person with a hard heart does not show mercy to anyone and his eyes never turn moist with tears at times of happiness or times of sadness, for the dryness of his eyes is due to the hardness of his heart. How could his heart not be hard when it is full of wishes, acts of disobedience, sins, wide hopes, desires to obtain things that are not destined for him, envy for their owners, and stinginess with the obligatory alms? Additionally, he does not pay the dues of expiations, does not fulfill his vows, does not pay attention to the needs of his relatives, does not settle his debts despite his ability to do so, and even tries to delay them in the hope of avoiding payment altogether, and hates to give anything by way of charity or in fulfilling the obligatory duties. All these and the likes are signs of wretchedness. The Invincible One has said: “Has the time not yet come for the hearts of those who believe to submit with humility to the remembrance of Allah and to the truth that has come down?” (57:16).

The heart inside which belief in the oneness of God and nearness has developed grows bigger everyday. As it grows bigger, greater, and higher it will not see any more on the face of the earth and in heaven other than Allah. All creatures will submit to its command and there will be a secret between it and its Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). Once it has reached this stage, it will gain access [to Him], attain to Him, and become the absolute ruler of its time. It will become capable while complying with the divine decree, destiny, the Law, and Knowledge. The low ranking angels will serve it. O people, believe the words of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), and the righteous among His servants! He is truthful because He has said: “And who is truer in speech than Allah?” (4:122). The truthfulness of the Messenger and the righteous is derived from His truthfulness.

When you stand at the door of the True One (Almighty and Glorious is He), you will witness something wonderful, or rather many wonders. Forget your food, drink, clothes, existence, and the praise and the dispraise of people. All these are works of the hearts. This heart will then turn into an orchard that contains trees and fruits. It will have deserts and unpopulated spaces, seas, rivers, and mountains. It will become the gathering place of human beings, jinn, angels, and spirits. This is beyond the comprehension of the creatures. O Allah, if what I am talking about is true, confirm it for the seekers, but if it is false, obliterate it! If I am following the truth, erect my edifice, raise it high, and speed up the guidance of the creatures through me. O Allah, raise our hearts to you! How long will this tiredness last? When will the cares of the heart end? When will we enjoy the banquet on the roof of the palace of nearness, looking from its balconies at Your creation? “And Allah strikes parables for people” (14:25).

When the heart becomes sound, it forgets everything other than the True One (Almighty and Glorious is He), the One whose existence has no beginning, the Perpetual One, the Eternal One. Everything else has been created at a certain moment of time. Once this heart has become sound, the words that originate from it will be a truth that no one can refute. The heart will speak to the innermost being, the innermost being to the private life, the private life to the essence, the essence to the kernel, the kernel to the consciousness. At this stage, its speech to the hearts will be like seeds that are sown in a land that is good, soft, and not saline, so they will grow into green plants.


O you who are enjoying the bliss of this world, you will soon leave your bliss! How fine this piece of poetry is:
Listen, for you are able to hear
if you do not take the initiative it will be too late.
Eat as you like and live in ease,
the end of all of this will be death.

Soon, your wealth and life will vanish, your eyesight will deteriorate, your mind will lose its sanity, and your capacity for food and drink will decrease. You will see the pleasures but you will be unable to have anything of them. Your wife, children, and maidservant will hate you and wish for your death. Care and grief will be thrown on you. This world will abandon you and the hereafter will receive you. If you have done good for the hereafter, it will receive and embrace you, but if you have no such works, the grave will be your place and the Fire will be your final abode. It is illusion [that you are in]. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) used to say: “The real life is that of the hereafter” and repeat it to himself and to his companions (may Allah be satisfied with all of them).

Use your good health and your leisure time in obedience to Allah (mighty and glorified is He) before the approach of an illness that ruins your health and business and a matter that takes away your leisure time. Make full use of your affluence before you become poor, for affluence does not last forever. Be generous to the poor and share with them your wealth, for what you give them is credit that you have with your Lord and will be useful for you in the hereafter. Woe to you! Take full advantage of your life before your death. Learn a lesson from death, for the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) used to say: “Death is sufficient a preacher.” Death wears out every new thing, brings near every distant thing, and muddles every pure thing. There is no escape from death. It may come in this very hour and on this very day. This matter is under the control of someone else; it is not in your hands. Everything that you have is a loan: your youth, good health, leisure time, affluence, and life are all on loan to you. Therefore, make what really matters to you your concern.

Death is watching you while you are unaware. You have forgotten to wait for it despite the fact that it is standing in front of you. It will soon come your way — targeting your well‑being and lives. The soul of one of you will go, while his body stays behind like the corpse of a sheep. Who will have mercy for you will bury you in the ground before the earth’s wild beasts and insects eat you. Your family, friends, and enemies will stay with their food, drink, and pleasures, and they may or may not ask Allah to show mercy to you. Many kings were killed by their enemies who then threw them in the wilderness, deliberately without burial, to ensure that they are devoured by dogs and insects. How ugly the king who ends up like this is.

One that death can remove is not a real kingdom
The real kingdom is that of the One who does not die

The sensible among you is one who remembers death and is satisfied with whatever destiny brings, thanking for what he likes and enduring with patience what he dislikes. Focus your reflection on matters related to your religion, instead of reflecting on lustful desires and pleasures, and reflect on death and what follows it.

O people, die before you die. Die as far as your lower selves and your wills are concerned. Remember death frequently and prepare for it before its arrival and then you will have died before you die. Death, then, will be easy for you and will not represent a burden or grief. The arrival of the day of death and the Day of Resurrection is inevitable, so wait for them. These two days have been decreed by Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and cannot be turned back.

O you who are in the company of their worldly goods and great expectations! The appointed times of death will soon come and separate you from your hopes. Hurry up before the arrival of these appointed times. Look at sudden death. Death is not necessarily preceded by an illness. Iblīs is your enemy so do not heed to his advice. Do not trust him for he is not trustworthy. Beware of him. He wants you to die while you are standing on the foot of heedlessness, disobedience, and disbelief. Do not be forgetful of your enemy for his sword will not be prevented from hitting the truthful person or the disbeliever. Only a few individuals escape it. He removed your father Adam and your mother Eve (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on them) from Paradise and he works diligently to prevent you from entering it. He urges you to commit disobedience, sins, disbelief, and noncompliance. All acts of disobedience are attributed to him, after Allah’s decree and His destiny. All creatures are subject to affliction except Allah’s sincere servants who have realized their servanthood to Him (mighty and glorified is He), so he has no authority over them. At times, he can cause them some harm, for when it is time for a decreed matter to take place, the eye becomes blind. His effect on them touches only the body, not the heart or the innermost being; only matters relating to this world, not matters pertaining to the hereafter; only matters relating to the creatures, not matters related to the Creator (mighty and glorified is He). He approaches the creatures mainly through the attachment to this world and the lower self. Seeking this world is a burning fire.

O young men, occupy yourselves with what concerns and is good for you. Preparing for what follows death is of concern to you, striving against your lower self is of concern to you, paying attention to your faults is of concern to you, but attending to the faults of other people is of no concern for you. Remember death and work in preparation for what is after it, for the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) has said: “The intelligent person is one who calls himself to account and works in preparation for what follows death, whereas the incompetent person is one who lets his lower self follow its passion, yet still wishes for forgiveness from Allah.”

Monday, January 20, 2014

Signs of true scholar

Pious scholar has some obvious signs: he will not seek this world by his teachings.

It has several other signs as well: his word will not oppose his acts.

Whatever he teaches he will be the first to do it, whatever he forbid it he will be the first to avoid it.

He will be always careful of knowledge that inspires him to the obedience of Allah, and would be far away from knowledge that make him hold fast to this world.

Preventing himself from engaging in the knowledge that spreads gossips and disputes which are shown beautified to him.

He will avoid the luxury in food, beauty in accommodation and adornment in the cloth. He always inclines towards conviction and slightness.

He will keep himself away from the king, it means he should not visit king except for giving advice, restoring people's right, interceding for the sick people; in these cases he can enter in to the king's palace.

He will not be quick in issuing fatwa (religious decree), instead he will say 'ask the qualified people'.

His goal by the knowledge would be to attain the great final happiness. He will give more importance to the knowledge of moral ethics (tasawwuf) by which he will do his homework in training and monitoring his heart(himself). His expectation is that the 'hereafter knowledge' will be revealed upon him through mujahada

The emphasized signs of scholars are:

1. The scholar will not ask any worldly gains, meaning he will be honest  and sincere in his teaching.
2. He does whatever he preaches. His word will not contradict with his teaching.
3. He will first do a good action and then ask people to do it. He give advice to keep away from a sin if he really not committing that sin
4. He will be very interested in seeking the knowledge that lead him to the obedience of Allah. He will never learn how to deviate from true path.
5. His interest is to study that benefits him directly. He won't study such knowledge that makes him successful in unnecessary arguments and debates.
6. Simplicity is his trademark. He never wish for luxurious food, accommodation or dress.
7. He will not influence kings and ministers to get personal benefits. But he influences them to lead them in the right direction. He can go to king's palace to give advice, defend one's right, speak on behalf of weak and sick people.
8. He won't issue fatwa in hurry. His fatwa is based on concrete proofs. If he does'nt know he will say 'ask the learned people'.
9. Knowledge is – according to him – source of final happiness. He seeks it for getting succeeded in the hereafter. So his concentration is towards tasawwuf(moral spiritual knowledge). He will also study how to control his mind. He expects that true knowledge will be revealed upon him according to his accomplishments in mujaahada.  
10. His knowledge is based on Sharia. He imitates it with his in-depth knowledge and insight.
It is recommended to practice what one enjoins. Prophet(S.A.S)'s life itself was a role model and it is open to read. From the day one he appeared in the public life he was never seen saying anything that is against his speech.

There is a saying :

فعل رجل لألف رجل أبلغ من قول ألف رجل لرجل"

"An action of one man in front of one thousand men is more effective than the saying of a thousand men to one man."

A prophetic saying reported as follows:

مروا بالمعروف وان لم تفعلوه وانهوا عن المنكر وان لم تجتنبوه كله

enjoin what is good even if you didn't do it, forbid the evil even if you didn't avoid it all".

Avoiding all sins is not a pre-condition to be qualified to enjoin a good. If it were a pre-condition, there would be not a single man who can deserve to do it; because 'to err is human'.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Probably the last

You should know that the above-mentioned stages [of spiritual progress] can only be attained through genuine repentance [tawba nasuh], and with verbal instruction [talqin] from qualified experts. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

And He imposed on them
wa alzama-hum
the profession of true devotion.
kalimata 't-taqwa. (48:26)

That is the profession: "There is no god but Allah [la ilaha illa 'llah]," with the stipulation that it must come from a heart that is truly devout, pure of everything apart from Allah, not like any statement heard from the mouths of the common folk. The wording may be the same in each case, but there is a difference in the meaning.

The heart is enlivened only when it receives the seed of the affirmation of Oneness from a living heart. It must be a perfect seed, for nothing grows from a seed that is immature. That is why Allah sent down the profession of Oneness [kalimat at-Tawhid] in two places in the Qur'an, once in connection with the outer expression:

When it was said to them:
inna-hum kanu idha qila la-hum
"There is no god but Allah,"
la ilaha illa 'llahu
they were scornful, and they said:
yastakbirun: wa yaquluna
"Shall we forsake our gods?"
a-inna la-tariku alihati-na. (37:35,36)

-and once in connection with real knowledge:

So know that there is no god but Allah,
fa-''lam anna-hu la ilaha illa 'llahu
and ask forgiveness for your sin,
wa 'staghfir li-dhanbi-ka
and for the believing men and believing women.
wa li'l-mu'minina wa 'l-mu'minat:
Allah knows your going to and from,
wa 'llahu ya'lamu mutaqabbala-kum
and your lodging.
wa mathwa-kum. (47:19)

This instruction [talqin], concerning the reason for the revelation of this noble Qur'anic verse [aya], is for the benefit of the special few.

According to the author of Bustan ash-Shari'a [The Orchard of the Sacred Law]: "'Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him) was the first to ask the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) to show him the nearest, the finest and the easiest of the spiritual paths. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) waited for inspiration [wahy], so Gabriel (peace be upon him) came down and instructed him to repeat this profession [of Oneness] three times. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) then said what Gabriel (peace be upon him) had told him to say. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) then instructed 'Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him) to do likewise. Then he came to his Companions and gave the same instruction to them all."

[In the wake of a battle with the unbelievers], the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said [to his Companions]:

We have come home from the lesser sacred struggle [al-jihad al-asghar].
We are returning to the greater sacred struggle [al-jihad al-akbar].

-meaning the sacred struggle with the lower self [jihad an-nafs]. As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to one of his Companions:

The greatest of all your enemies is that lower self of yours, in there between your flanks.

The love of Allah will not be experienced until His enemies, the instigating self [an-nafs al-ammara], the censorious self [lawwama] and the inspiring self [mulhima], have been conquered in your being. You must purify your being of the blameworthy characteristics of domestic animals, like the love of excessive eating, drinking, sleep and idle play, and of those of savage beasts, like anger, abuse, assault and coercion. You must also purify your being of satanic characteristics, like arrogant pride, vain conceit, envy and malice, and of other such vices of the body and the heart. Once you are cleansed of these impurities, you will be cleansed of the root of sins, and you will be included among those who purify themselves and are truly repentant.

Allah loves those who are truly repentant,
inna 'llaha yuhibbu 't-tawwabina
and He loves those who purify themselves.
wa yuhibbu 'l-mutatahhirin. (2:222)

If someone repents, but only of the outer aspect of sins, the obvious conclusion is that he is not covered by this Qur'anic verse [aya], since he is ta'ib [simply repentant], but not tawwab [utterly repentant]. The form tawwab is intensive, so it refers to the repentance of the special few. If someone repents, but only of the outer aspect of sins, he is like someone who cuts the grass above the ground, and does not take the trouble to dig it out by the roots, so it is sure to grow again, even more thickly than before.

As for someone who is truly repentant of all sins and blameworthy traits of character, his likeness is that of someone who digs the grass out by its roots, so it will certainly not grow again, except in very rare cases. After true repentance, therefore, the necessary instruction [talqin] is to uproot everything apart from Allah (Exalted is He) from the heart. If the bitter trees are not uprooted, the sweet trees will not take their place.

You must therefore pay careful attention, O possessors of perceptive faculties, for then you may prosper and succeed. Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

And He is the One who accepts repentance
wa Huwa 'lladhi yaqbalu 't-tawbata
from His servants, and pardons evil deeds,
'an 'ibadi-hi wa ya'fu 'ani 's-sayyi'ati
and He knows what you are doing.
wa ya'lamu ma taf'alun. (42:25)

He has also said (Glory be to Him):

Except those who repent, and believe,
illa man taba wa amana
and do righteous work-
wa 'amila 'amalan salihan
in their case, Allah will change
fa-ula'ika yubaddilu 'llahu
their evil deeds into good deeds,
sayyi'ati-him hasanat:
for Allah is ever All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
wa kana 'llahu Ghafuran Rahima. (25:70)

Repentance is of two kinds: the repentance of the common folk [tawbat al-'amm] and the repentance of the special few [tawbat al-khawass]:

1. The repentance of the common folk is returning from sinful disobedience to worshipful obedience, from what is blameworthy to that which is praiseworthy, from the Inferno to the Garden, from the comfort of the body to the hardship of [conflict with] the lower self, by means of remembrance [dhikr], dedicated striving and vigorous endeavor.

2. The repentance of the special few is returning, after the achievement of this repentance, from the virtues of the pious to the sources of direct knowledge, from the stages of progress to nearness, and from physical pleasures to spiritual pleasures. That means forsaking everything apart from Allah (Exalted is He), enjoying intimacy with Him, and viewing Him with the eye of certitude.

To enjoy the benefits of material existence is to be guilty of sin. In the words of the saying addressed to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace):

Your material existence is such a sin that no other sin can be compared with it.

According to the great elders (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon them): "The good deeds of the pious are the bad deeds of those drawn near [to the Lord]." That is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to seek Allah's forgiveness one hundred times each day, as Allah (Exalted is He) told him:

And ask forgiveness for your sin.
wa 'staghfir li-dhanbi-ka. (47:19)

That is to say: "for the sin of your material existence." This is the repentance called inaba, which means returning to Allah (Exalted is He) from everything apart from Him, entering into the safety of nearness in the Hereafter, and beholding the Countenance of Allah (Exalted is He). As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) once said:

Allah (Exalted is He) has servants whose bodies are in this world, while their hearts are beneath the Heavenly Throne.

The vision of Allah (Exalted is He) is impossible in this world, where it is possible only to view the attributes of Allah (Exalted is He) in the mirror of the heart. It was 'Umar (may Allah be well pleased withim) who said: "My heart saw my Lord by the light of my Lord." The heart is a mirror in which the Beauty of Allah (Exalted is He) is reflected.

This witnessing [of the Divine attributes] is attainable only through the instruction [talqin] of an accomplished Shaikh, one who has been accepted among the predecessors, then sent back here to perfect the deficient, at the command of Allah (Exalted is He), in accordance with the example of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). The saints (may Allah the Exalted be well pleased with them) are sent to the special few, not to the common folk. This is the difference between the Prophet and the saint [wali]: The Prophet is sent to the common folk and the special few alike, and he is free to set his own independent example, whereas the spiritual guide [murshid] is sent only to the special few, and he is not free to set his own independent example, because he qualified only to follow his Prophet (peace be upon him). If he did claim independence, he would be guilty of unbelief [kufr].

When the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made the comparison:

The scholars of my Community are like the Prophets of the Children of Israel.

-he did so because they [those Prophets] were the loyal followers of the Sacred Law of the Messenger, he being Moses (blessing and peace be upon him). Their task was to renew that Law and confirm its rules, without introducing another Sacred Law.

The same is true of the scholars of this Islamic Community, inasmuch as the saints are sent to the special few, in order to renew the commandment and the prohibition, to establish right practice with the utmost support, and to purify the basis of the Sacred Law, which is the site of direct knowledge in the heart. They transmit knowledge of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), just as the Companions of the Bench [Ashab as-Suffa]6 used to tell of the mysteries of the Heavenly Ascension [Mi'raj], even before the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reported the news. The saint is the bearer of the sainthood [wilaya] of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), which is an element of his Prophethood, and his inner being is entrusted to his guardianship.

This does not apply to all those [scholars of the Community] who follow the outer aspect of knowledge, because they may be heirs of the Prophet, but only as relatives on the maternal side. The complete heir is one who is in the position of the son, because that is the closest of paternal relationships. The son is the father's secret being, both outwardly and inwardly. That is why the Prophet (blessing and peace be upon him) once said:

Some knowledge is like the form of the hidden treasure. It is known only by those who truly know Allah (Exalted is He). When they speak of it, the people of honor cannot deny it.

This is the secret that was lodged in the heart of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) on the night of the Heavenly Ascension, in the innermost of the thirty thousand inner compartments. He did not reveal it to any of the common folk, but only to his closest Companions and the Companions of the Bench. The blessing of that secret is the implementation of the Sacred Law until the Day of Resurrection.

Esoteric knowledge guides one to that secret, for all the academic sciences and skills are the shell of that secret. As for the exoteric scholars, they are inheritors, so some of them are in the position of the owner of material properties, and some are in the position of relatives on the maternal side. They rely on the shells of knowledge, in order to summon people to Allah (Exalted is He) with good advice. The Sunni Shaikhs are linked by their spiritual chain [silsila] to 'Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him), at the station of knowledge at the gate of knowledge, inviting people to Allah (Blessed and Exalted is He) and giving wise advice. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

Summon to the way of your Lord with wisdom
ud'u ila sabili Rabbi-ka bi'l-hikmati
and good admonition,
wa 'l-maw'izati 'l-hasanati
and dispute with them in the better way.
wa jadil-hum bi'llati hiya ahsan. (16:125)

What they [the Shaikhs] say is basically the same, though there may be differences in detail.

Three meaningful elements are combined in the Qur'anic verse [aya], and they are likewise combined in the essential nature of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). No one can carry all that after him, so it is divided into three parts:

1. Knowledge of the spiritual state [hal]. This is the kernel, which is granted to real men, and which is the aspiration of real men. As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) once said:

The aspiration of real men is the uprooting of the mountains.

What is meant by the mountains is the hardness of the heart, which is eradicated by their supplication and their humble appeal. As Allah (Blessed and Exalted is He) has said:

He gives wisdom to whomever He will,
yu'ti 'l-hikmata man yasha':
and he to whom wisdom is given,
wa man yu'ta 'l-hikmata
he has truly received abundant good.
fa-qad utiya khairan kathira. (2:269)

2. The second part is the shell of that kernel, which is given to the exoteric scholars. It consists of good advice, commanding what is right and proper, and forbidding what is wrong and improper. As the Prophet (blessing and peace be upon him) once said:

The scholar preaches with knowledge and good manners, while the ignoramus preaches with aggressiveness and anger.

3. The third part is the shell of the shell, which is given to the worldly rulers. It consists of external justice and the government indicated by His saying (Blessed and Exalted is He):

And dispute with them in the better way.
wa jadil-hum bi'llati hiya ahsan. (16:125)

The worldly rulers possess the outer means of control, and the means to preserve the good order of the religion, like the red shell [the husk that protects the shell]. The esoteric scholars are like the kernel within the shell.

The Prophet (blessing and peace be upon him) once said:

You must frequent the company of the scholars, and listen to the speech of the wise. Allah (Exalted is He) revives the heart with the light of wisdom, just as He revives the dead earth with the water of rain.

He also said (blessing and peace be upon him):

The word of wisdom is wandering astray. The wise man snatches it wherever he finds it.

The words in the mouths of the common folk have come down from the Well-kept Tablet [al-Lawh al-Mahfuz], which is on the level of the realm of Omnipotence [Jabarut]. The words in the mouths of real men, those men who have reached their goal, have come down from the Greatest Tablet on the tongue of Holiness, without intermediary in the realm of Nearness.

Everything must return to its original source. That is why it is a compulsory duty to seek the expert instructors, for the sake of the life of the heart. As the Prophet (blessing and peace be upon him) once said:

The quest for knowledge is a strict obligation for every Muslim man and Muslim woman.

That knowledge is the knowledge of direct experience and nearness. As for the rest, there is no need for the exoteric sciences, except when they contribute to the performance of religious duties, like the science of jurisprudence [fiqh] in relation to acts of worship. As al-Ghazali (may Allah be well pleased with him) said in poetry:

The life of the heart is knowledge, so preserve it,
The death of the heart is ignorance, so avoid it.

Your best provision is true devotion, so provide it.
This advice of mine is enough for you, so heed it.

Allah (Blessed and Exalted is He) is well pleased with those of His servants who make the transition to nearness, and attach no importance to degrees of rank. As Allah (Blessed and Exalted is He) has said:

Say: "I do not ask of you a fee for it,
qul la as'alu-kum 'alai-hi ajran
except love in close kinship."
illa 'l-mawaddata fi 'l-qurba. (42:23)

In this context, according to one interpretation, what is meant by qurba [close kinship] is qurba [nearness (to the Lord)].

The number of the sciences ['ulum].

Explanation of the Sacred Law [Shari'a], the Spiritual Path [Tariqa], Direct Knowledge [Ma'rifa] and Reality [Haqiqa].

Exoteric science [al-'ilm az-zahir] consists of twelve branches, and esoteric science [al-'ilm al-batin] likewise has twelve branches. These branches are divided among the common folk and the special élite, in proportion to their capability.

The sciences ['ulum] are grouped in four sections:

1. The outer aspect of the Sacred Law [Shari'a], meaning the commandments, prohibitions, and other rules and regulations.

2. The inner aspect of the Sacred Law, which I have called the Science of the Inner and the Spiritual Path [Tariqa].

3. Esotericism, which I have called the Science of Direct Knowledge [Ma'rifa].

4. The innermost of inner factors, which I have called the Science of Reality [Haqiqa].

It is essential to acquire knowledge of all these sciences, for, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

The Sacred Law is a tree, the Spiritual Path is its branches, Direct Knowledge is its leaves, and Reality is its fruit.

The Qur'an contains them all, explicitly and by implication, by commentary or by interpretation. According to the author of al-Majma': "Commentary [tafsir] is for the common folk, while interpretation [ta'wil] is for the élite, because they are the scholars who are rooted [rasikhun] in knowledge. The meaning of 'rootedness [rusukh]' is 'firmness, establishment and commitment' to knowledge, just as the root of the palm tree is firmly established in the earth, while its branches reach up into the sky. This rootedness is the result of the profession [that there is no god except Allah] that is planted in the core of the heart after purification. [In the following Qur'anic verse] Allah (Exalted is He) has referred to 'those who are rooted in knowledge' immediately after His saying (Almighty and Glorious is He) 'except Allah [illa 'llah]':

He it is who has sent down to you the Book
Huwa 'lladhi anzala 'alai-ka 'l-Kitaba
wherein are clear signs-they are the
min-hu ayatun muhkamatun hunna
substance of the Book-and others allegorical.
Ummu 'l-Kitabi wa ukharu mutashabihat:
But those in whose hearts is doubt
fa-amma 'lladhina fi qulubi-him zaighun
pursue that which is allegorical,
fa-yattabi'una ma tashabaha
seeking dissension by seeking its interpretation.
min-hu 'btigha'a 'l-fitnati wa 'btigha'a ta'wili-h:
None knows its interpretation except Allah.
wa ma ya'lamu ta'wila-hu illa 'llah:
And those who are rooted in knowledge say:
wa 'r-rasikhuna fi 'l-'ilmi yaquluna
We believe therein; the whole is from our Lord.'
amanna bi-hi kullun min 'indi Rabbi-na:
But only men of understanding really heed.
wa ma yadhdhakkaru illa ulu 'l-albab. (3:7)"

According to the author of at-Tafsir al-Kabir [The Great Commentary]: "If this door were opened, the doors of the inner mysteries would open too."

The servant is also commanded to observe the commandment and the prohibition, and to oppose the lower self [nafs] in each of the four spheres. In the sphere of the Sacred Law, the lower self insinuates contradictions. In the sphere of the Spiritual Path, it insinuates deceptive conformities, like the claim to Prophethood and sainthood. In the sphere of Direct Knowledge, it insinuates concealed polytheism [shirk khafi] in the guise of luminous revelations, like the claim to Lordship. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

Have you seen him who chooses
a-ra'aita mani 'ttakhadha
for his god his own lust?
ilaha-hu hawa-h. (25:43)

As for the sphere of Reality, the devil has no access to it, nor does the lower self, nor do the angels, because anyone other than Allah is (Exalted is He) is burned to ashes therein. As Gabriel (peace be upon him) said: "If I had drawn nearer by a fingertip, I would surely have burned to ashes." [In this sphere] the servant is therefore uninfluenced by two opponents [the devil and his own lower self], and he is sincerely devoted [to Allah]. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

[Satan] said: "Then, by Your might,
qala fa-bi'Izzati-ka
I shall surely beguile them every one,
la-ughwiyanna-hum ajma'in.
except Your sincerely devoted servants among them."
illa 'ibada-ka min-humu 'l-mukhlasin. (38:82,83)

So long as he has not attained to Reality, the servant cannot be sincerely devout, because the disloyal human attributes will only be annihilated by the manifestion of the Divine Essence, and ignorance will only be removed by direct knowledge of the Divine Essence (Glory be to Him and Exalted is He). Allah (Exalted is He) will teach him an esoteric knowledge from His Presence, without intermediary, so he will come to know Him through His instruction, and worship Him through His teaching, as in the case of al-Khidr (peace be upon him).

Once he has reached this stage, the servant will witness the holy spirits. He will come to know his Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), who will tell him about everything from the beginning to the end, and all the other Prophets will give him glad tidings of the eternal communion. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger,
wa man yuti'i 'llaha
they are in the company of those
wa 'r-rasula fa-ula'ika ma'a 'lladhina
to whom Allah has granted gracious favor-
an'ama 'llahu 'alai-him
the Prophets, the champions of truth, the martyrs
mina 'n-nabiyyina wa 's-siddiqina wa 'sh-shuhada'i
and the righteous-and the best of company are they!"
wa 's-salihin: wa hasuna ula'ika rafiqa. (4:69)

If someone has not acquired this knowledge, he is not a scholar in reality, even if he has read a million books. Inasmuch as he does not reach the spiritual level, though he performs physical work in accordance with the outer aspects of the sciences, his recompense will be the Garden of Paradise, and that alone. Only the reflection of the [Divine] attributes will be manifest there. The scholar does not gain access, by exoteric knowledge alone, to the Holy Sanctuary and nearness [to the Lord], because that is the realm of flight, and birds do not fly without wings.

If the servant acts in accordance with both exoteric and esoteric knowledge, he will reach that realm. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said in the Sacred Tradition [Hadith Qudsi]:

O My servant, if you wish to enter My sanctuary, you must pay no attention to the dominion [of this world], the realm of Sovereignty [Malakut] and the realm of Omnipotence [Jabarut], because the dominion [of this world] is the devil of the scholar, the realm of Sovereignty is the devil of the direct knower, and the realm of Omnipotence is the devil of the overseer.

If someone takes notice of any one of these temptations, he is an outcast in the sight of Allah (Exalted is He), meaning an outcast from nearness, not an outcast from the abode. Such are those who seek nearness, but fail to reach it, because they are distracted by desire, and because they only have one wing.

As for the people of nearness, they receive that which no eye has ever seen, of which no ear has ever heard, and which has never occurred to a human heart. That is the Garden of Nearness, in which there are no houries and no palaces.

The human being needs to recognize his true value, and he must not claim for himself what is not his right and proper due. It was 'Ali (may Allah ennoble his countenance) who said: "May Allah have mercy on a man who knows his own worth, who does not go beyond his limit, who guards his tongue, and who does not waste his life."

The scholar must therefore comprehend the meaning of the reality of the human being, called the child of inner meanings. He must train that child to practice constant affirmation of the Names of Oneness, and to leave the realm of physicality for the realm of spirituality, which is the realm of mystery, where there are no abodes except Allah. That realm is like a desert of light, to which there is no end. The child of inner meanings flies over it, and beholds its strange and marvelous wonders, but they are impossible to describe. It is the place of those affirmers of Oneness who lost their own identity in the eye of Singularity. The sight of Allah's Beauty left them with no existence in the meantime, just as staring at the sun makes everything else invisible. Without a doubt, the human being cannot see himself at the same time as Allah's Beauty, because of the overwhelming astonishment and fascination.

As Jesus (peace be upon him) said: "The human being does not enter the Kingdom of the Heavens, unless he is born twice, as the birds are born twice." This refers to the birth of the child of spiritual meanings from the reality of human capability. That is the secret of the human being. It is conceived and born from the union of the science of the Sacred Law and the science of Reality, just as the ordinary child results from the union of the two sperms from the man and the woman. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

We created the human being from a sperm-drop,
inna khalaqna 'l-insana min nutfatin
a mingling, in order to try him;
amshajin nabtali-h:
and We made him hearing, seeing.
fa-ja'alna-hu sami'an basira. (76:2)

After the manifestation of this inner meaning, it becomes a simple matter to pass from the surface of the oceans of creation to the depths of the commandment. In comparison with the realm of the spirit, every other realm is like a drop of water. After that [manifestation], the spiritual and esoteric sciences are communicated without a letter [of the alphabet] and without a sound.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The beginning of creation

Ibtida' al-khalq

You should know—may Allah enable you to achieve what is dear and pleasing to Him!-that Allah (Exalted is He) first created the spirit of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) from the light of His Beauty. As Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has told us:

I created the spirit of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) from the light of My countenance.

As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:

The first thing that Allah created was my spirit [ruh]. The first thing that Allah created was my light [nur]. The first thing that Allah created was the pen [qalam]. The first thing that Allah created was the intellect ['aql].

This means that they are all one thing, that being the Muhammadan Reality [al-Haqiqat al-Muhammadiyya], but it is called a "light [nur]" because it is pure and unclouded by the darknesses of Majesty. As Allah (Blessed and Exalted is He) has said:

There has now come to you from Allah
qad ja'a-kum mina 'llahi
a Light, and a clear Book.
Nurun wa Kitabun mubin. (5:15)

It is also called an "intellect ['aql]," because it comprehends universal truths [kulliyyat]. It is also called a "pen [qalam]," because it is an instrument for the transmission of knowledge, just as the pen is an instrument in the realm of letters [of the alphabet].

The Muhammadan spirit is thus the quintessence of all entities, the first of all beings and the origin of them all. As he has said (blessing and peace be upon him):

I am from Allah and the believers are from me.

Allah created all the spirits from him in the realm of Divinity [Lahut], and in the finest real formation. "Muhammad" is the name of all human beings in that realm, and he is the original home.

Then, when four thousand years had passed, Allah created the Heavenly Throne ['Arsh] from the light of the eye of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), and from the Heavenly Throne He created the rest of existing entities. Then He reduced the spirits to the lowest level of existence, meaning the physical bodies. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

Then We reduced him [the human being]
thumma radadna-hu
to the lowest of the low.
asfala safilin. (95:5)

In other words, the first descent was from the realm of Divinity [Lahut] to the realm of Omnipotence [Jabarut]. Between the two Sanctuaries, Allah (Exalted is He) clothed them with the light of Omnipotence, which is the royal spirit [ruh sultani]. Then he sent them down, in this attire, to the realm of Sovereignty [Malakut], and He clothed them with the light of Sovereignty, which is the immaterial spirit [ruh ruhani]. Then He sent them down to the realm of Dominion [Mulk], and He clothed them with the light of Dominion, which is the physical spirit. Then from it Allah created the bodies. As He has said (Exalted is He):

Out of it [the earth] We created you,
min-ha khalaqna-kum
and into it We shall send you back again,
wa fi-ha nu'idu-kum
and We shall bring you forth from it a second time.
wa min-ha nukhriju-kum taratan ukhra. (20:55)

Then Allah (Exalted is He) commanded the spirits to enter the bodies, so they entered at Allah's command (Exalted is He). As He has said (Almighty and Glorious is He):

And I breathed into him of My Spirit.
wa nafakhtu fi-hi min Ruhi. (38:72)

When the spirits became attached to the physical bodies, they forgot the covenant they had contracted on the day when Allah asked them: "Am I not your Lord?" and they said: "Yes indeed!" Because of this, they did not return to the original home, but the All-Merciful Source of Help took pity on them. He sent down Heavenly Books to remind them of that original home. As He has said (Exalted is He):

We sent Moses with Our signs, [saying]:
wa la-qad arsalna Musa bi-ayati-na
"Bring your people forth from darkness into light,
an akhrij qawma-ka mina 'z-zulumati ila 'n-nuri
and remind them of the days of Allah."
wa dhakkir-hum bi-ayyami 'llah. (14:5)

In other words: "Remind them of the former days of communion with Him, in the company of the spirits."

All the Prophets came into this world and went away to the Hereafter because of this admonition, but few human beings took heed, longed for their original home and returned to it, until Prophethood was assigned to the supreme Muhammadan spirit, the seal of the Mission and the guide away from error. Allah sent him to those heedless people, to open their eyes from the sleep of heedlessness, so he summoned them to Allah (Exalted is He), to contact with Him and the meeting with His sempiternal Beauty. As Allah (Exalted is He) said to him:

Say: "This is my way: I call to Allah
qul hadhihi sabili ad'u ila 'llah:
with insightful knowledge, I and whoever follows me."
'ala basiratin ana wa mani 'ttaba'a-ni. (12:108)

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) once said:

My Companions are like the stars. Whomever of them you follow, you will be guided aright.

Insight comes from the eye of the spirit, which opens within the heart of the saints [awliya']. That is why it is not acquired by knowledge of the external world, but only by knowledge of the inner Presence. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

And We taught him knowledge from Our Presence.
wa 'allamna-hu min ladun-na 'ilma. (18:65)

It is therefore necessary for the human being to acquire that eye, and so become one of the masters of insight, by taking instruction from a saint, a spiritual guide whose teaching concerns the realm of Divinity [Lahut].

O brethren! Wake up, and hasten to forgiveness from your Lord through repentance! As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord,
wa sari'u ila maghfiratin min Rabbi-kum
and a Garden as wide as the heavens and the earth,
wa jannatin 'ardu-ha 's-samawatu wa 'l-ardu
which has been made ready for those who are truly devout.
u'iddat li'l-muttaqin. (3:133)

Embark upon the path, and return to your Lord with these spiritual caravans. The path will soon be cut off, and no travelling companion will be found. We have not come to settle in this vile, dilapidated world, nor for the sake of eating, drinking, and satisfying crude natural instincts. Your Prophet is waiting, sorrowful for your sake.
As he said (peace be upon him):

My sorrow is for the members of my Community who will come in later times.

The knowledge that is sent down to us is twofold: exoteric and esoteric, meaning the sacred law [shari'a] and direct understanding [ma'rifa]. Allah (Exalted is He) has commanded us to apply the sacred law to our outer being, and direct understanding to our inner being, so that the combination of the two will result in knowledge of Reality [Haqiqa], just as fruit is produced by the tree and the leaves. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

He has partitioned the two seas.
maraja 'l-bahraini
They meet, [but] between them there is a barrier
yaltaqiyan: baina-huma barzakhun
that they do not overpass.
la yabghiyan. (55:19,20)

Reality cannot be attained, and the goal cannot be reached, by exoteric knowledge alone. Perfect worship is accomplished by means of both forms of knowledge, not one without the other. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

I did not create the jinn and humankind
wa ma khalaqtu 'l-jinna wa 'l-insa
except to worship Me.
illa li-ya'budun. (51:56)

In other words: "to know and understand Me." If someone does not know and understand Him, how can he worship Him? Direct knowledge is attainable only by removing of the veil of the lower self [nafs] from the mirror of the heart, and cleaning and polishing that mirror. It will then reflect the beauty of the treasure hidden in the secret of the heart's core. Allah (Exalted is He) has said in the Sacred Tradition [Hadith Qudsi]:

I was a hidden treasure and I wished to be known, so I created Creation.

It is clear, therefore, that Allah (Exalted is He) created the human being to know and understand Him.

Direct knowledge is of two kinds: knowledge of the attributes [sifat] of Allah (Exalted is He), and knowledge of His Essence [Dhat]. Knowledge of the attributes is experienced by the physical body in both domains [this world and the Hereafter], while knowledge of the Essence is experienced by the holy spirit in the Hereafter. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

And We supported him [Jesus] with the holy spirit.
wa ayyadna-hu bi-Ruhi 'l-Qudus. (2:87)

They [who know the Essence] are likewise supported with the holy spirit.

These two experiences are attainable only by means of two forms of knowledge, the exoteric knowledge and the esoteric knowledge mentioned above. As the Prophet (peace be upon him) once said:

Knowledge ['ilm] is twofold: knowledge conveyed by the tongue, that being Allah's testimony to His servants, and knowledge conveyed by the heart, that being the knowledge that is useful for the attainment of the goal.

First of all, the human being needs knowledge of the sacred law, in order to provide the body with sufficient education in the realm of the attributes, that being the realm of the stages of development. He then needs esoteric knowledge, in order to provide the spirit with education in its own realm of understanding. That can only be achieved by abstaining from all practices that are incompatible with the sacred law and the spiritual path [tariqa]. Its achievement requires the endurance of personal and spiritual hardships, for the sake of pleasing Allah (Exalted is He), without hypocritical display [riya'] and the pursuit of fame [sum'a]. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord,
fa-man kana yarju liqa'a Rabbi-hi
let him do righteous work,
fa-l'-ya'mal 'amalan salihan
and let him give no one any share at all
wa la yushrik
in the worship due unto his Lord.
bi-'ibadati Rabbi-hi ahada. (18:110)

The realm of direct knowledge is the realm of Divinity [Lahut], and that is the original home, in which the holy spirit was created in the finest formation. What is meant by the holy spirit is the real human spirit, which was installed in the core of the heart, and which becomes manifest through repentance, instruction, and constantly declaring: "There is no god but Allah [la ilaha illa 'llah]." This declaration is first made with the tongue, then with the inner being, when the heart has become alive.

The Sufis have called the inner being "the child of the spiritual concepts [tifl al-ma'ani]," because it arises from the sacred conceptions. It is called a child for several reasons:

1. It is born from the heart, as the child is born from the mother, then reared by the father as it steadily grows to maturity.

2. Just as worldly knowledge is taught to ordinary children, spiritual knowledge is taught to this special child.

3. The ordinary child is unsoiled by the filth of external sins, and this special child is likewise pure and unstained by the filth of polytheism [shirk], heedlessness and physicality.

4. In the case of this special child, the purity of form is even greater, so it is seen in dreams in a shape like that of the angels.

5. Allah (Exalted is He) has described the attendants of the Garden of Paradise in terms of childhood [tifliyya], in His saying (Almighty and Glorious is He):

There wait on them immortal boys.
yatufu 'ala-him wildanun mukhalladun. (56:17)

And there go round, waiting on them,
wa yatufu 'alai-him
young boys of theirs,
ghilmanun la-hum
as if they were hidden pearls.
ka-anna-hum lu'lu'un maknun. (52:24)

6. The name "child" conveys a sense of its gentleness and its cleanliness.

7. The name "child" is used metaphorically, to indicate its connection with the body and its likeness to the human form, but only for the sake of comparison, not for the purpose of belittlement. It refers to this "child's" initial state.

This "child" is the real human being, because he has a connection with Allah (Exalted is He), so the body and physicality are not unlawful to him. As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) once said:

I have a time with Allah, when there is no space for any angel brought near [to the Lord], nor for any Prophet sent as a Messenger.

This [Prophet sent as a Messenger] refers to the human nature of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). The angel brought near [to the Lord] refers to his spirituality, which was created from the light of Omnipotence [Jabarut], as was the angel, so it has no entry into the light of Divinity [Lahut]. The Prophet (blessing and peace be upon him) also said:

Allah has a Garden in which there are no houries, no palaces, no honey and no milk, but where one gazes only at Allah's countenance (Exalted is He).

As Allah (Magnificent is His Majesty) has said:

Faces on that day will be resplendent,
wujuhun yawma'idhin nadira:
looking toward their Lord.
ila Rabbi-ha nazira. (75:22,23)

As the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

You will see your Lord as you see the moon on the night when it is full.

If the angel and the physical body entered into these realms, they would be burned to ashes. As Allah (Exalted is He) has said in the Sacred Tradition [Hadith Qudsi]:

If I disclosed the splendors of My Majesty, I would burn up everything as far as My eye can see.

As Gabriel (peace be upon him) said: "If I had drawn nearer by a fingertip, I would have been set on fire."

Shaikh Abd al-Qadir - Gate of Poverty


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.'"