CHAPTER ON POVERTY
Poverty is the Eid of the Mureedeen.
Eid is the day of celebration and happiness. The happiness of man is in the attainment of his objects of desire. While the happiness of laymen is in food, garments, wealth and worldly honour, the happiness of the selected servants of Allah – those who have established a true bond with Allah – is in the denial of the desires of the nafs. When the objects of desire of the nafs are denied to it, it is the Eid of the mureedeen.
The basis of their happiness is a heart purified of the contaminations of all aliens – of all things besides Allah Ta’ala. Whenever the nafs acquires things of its desire, it turns towards them. Contamination then affects its purity. On the other hand, when the desires of the nafs are denied, it runs towards Allah Ta’ala. It then experiences peace and pleasure in this condition.
Poverty is in conflict with the desire of the nafs. Therefore, poverty is the Eid of the people of Allah.
Poverty being a festive occasion is the state of those who are climbing the ladder of spiritual progress. Although they have created a bond with Allah Ta’ala, they have not yet attained firmness and steadfastness. There still remains nafsaani urge in them. However, after perfection when the nafs has mounted the stage of Mutma-innah, every moment is its Eid. Adversity and prosperity are then equal. In whichever condition Allah maintains the nafs (after becoming Mutma-innah), it will be Eid.
(When the nafs has reached the highest stage of its development, it is described as Nafs Mutma-innah. – Translator).
In most cases, during starvation, such an abundance of anwaar and ma-aarif are acquired, which are not attained even in Namaaz and Roza.
The basis for the incidence of anwaar (celestial light), inspirational knowledge, Divine Mysteries and subtleties is denial of the desires of the nafs. Therefore, if Namaaz and Roza are executed after the desires of the nafs have been satisfied e.g., delicious food and fine garments etc., then in such a Namaaz and Roza there will not be such abundance of anwaar and spiritual mysteries as would cascade into the heart at the time of starvation and during conditions which are in conflict with the desires of the nafs.
Poverty is a blanket bestowed from the bestowals of Allah Ta’ala.
Poverty is a Divine Bestowal which is like a blanket. During periods of starvation they fill this blanket with the piles of gifts they Divinely Receive, i.e. during starvation they acquire numerous Divine Blessings in the form of anwaar, ma-aarif and asraar. Thus, the selected servants of Allah are not scared by poverty and starvation. On the contrary, their happiness is boundless.
If you know what the descent of Divine Bestowals means, then be pleased with poverty and starvation because Allah Ta’ala says that Sadqah is for the fuqara.
The attribute of want and need is poverty. Cultivation of poverty thus means to cultivate the attribute of need and want in relation to your Master, Allah Ta’ala. At all times dependence must be on Allah. The heart should not develop independence on account of worldly possessions. Man’s heart should not feel satisfied and independent because of wealth and children. Independence of the heart should be only by virtue of the Divine Bond.
If you desire the torrents of Divine Effulgence to rain down on you, then become wholly dependent on Him. When this state of need has become entrenched in your nafs, you will experience the wonder of His mysteries cascading on you. An ocean of Faidh-e-Baatini will flood onto you. The proof for this claim is Allah’s statement:
“Verily, Sadaaqat is for the fuqara …”
You will, therefore, receive the Sadqah of His Fuyoodh (Spiritual Gifts) only when you have imbued in you the attributes of faqr (poverty) which make you a faqeer entitled to receive the Divine Sadqah of Celestial Knowledge. At all times, even if you possess an abundance of worldly wealth, ingrain in yourself the attribute of dependence on Him. Always remain a beggar at His Door.
Your poverty is natural. The means (asbaab) of need and want which appear to you are simply to remind you of your natural state of poverty which lies hidden in you. Temporary factors cannot eliminate your natural poverty.
O Insaan! In your present existence and in your next existence after death, you will be perpetually dependent on your Khaaliq and Rabb. Therefore, remember that your faqr (poverty) and dependence are natural to your constitution. You are inseparable from this dependence for even a second.
However, here on earth, on account of the health, wealth and freewill granted to you, you have developed an independent attitude, forgetting your Creator and Sustainer. You have thus become oblivious of your natural and inherent dependency on Allah Ta’ala. It is only on account of Divine Mercy that you are reminded of your natural attribute by way of the imposition of circumstances of difficulty and trial which constrain you to turn in supplication to your Creator. These conditions of hardship imply: “O Ihsaan! Why have you forgotten your origin?”
The selected servants of Allah always keep in mind this natural attribute of man’s dependence on Allah Ta’ala. The difficulties and trials which come their way are not for reminding them of their dependence, but are for the elevation of their ranks.
All things which have deceived you into a false state of independence are temporary. Allah Ta’ala is at all times capable of snatching away these material possessions which are keeping you in deception. In fact, this often happens. When it happens, man’s original state of dependence is exposed. He should, therefore, understand that his temporary and superficial facade of independence does not eliminate his natural and inherent state of absolute dependence. Thus, employ your intelligence and remember your origin. Your welfare is in this.
In your time, a beautiful time is when you cogitate on your dependence and return to your state of humility and lowliness.
O Searcher of the Truth! The best moments in your life are the time which you spend in the contemplation of your actual and natural dependence. Taking lesson from this perception, you will return to your original state of humility which has become obscure to your heart.
Since man and entire creation are perpetually under Divine domination and subjugation, man should understand his lowliness, contempt and humility. He manipulates creation at His Will. True Power, Beauty and Splendour belong only to Him. If, therefore, the bandah gains the impression that he too possesses respect and honour, he will be a rebel. Chastisement for rebellion is self-evident.
It is not sufficient that man only acknowledges his dependence and humility. This mere knowledge is with everyone. The recognition of one’s dependence should become a perpetual state permeating one’s heart. The effect should at all times be on the heart. It should reach the stage of Yaqeen which precludes all doubt and uncertainty.
On the contrary, man’s vilest time will be the moments in which he feels that he possesses the attributes of independence, excellence, rank and honour.
Do not spread your hands asking from creation unless you discern the giver giving to Your Maula-e-Haqeeqi (Allah Ta’ala). When you have attained this discernment then take from creation according to your zaahiri and baatini knowledge.
O Servant of Allah! Gifts awarded to you by people may be accepted on two conditions. One – You have reached such a state (of spiritual elevation) that you firmly believe that the actual giver is Allah Ta’ala and creation is the medium only. Mere knowledge of this fact is not adequate because both Muslims and Kafirs believe that Allah is the Giver. Rather, the state of your heart should be such that you consciously feel that creation is not the giver under any circumstances. The gaze of the heart should not be on creation.
Two – When you have imbued in yourself the aforementioned condition, then accept the gift according to your zaahiri and baatini knowledge. Ilm-e-Zaahir refers to the Shariah. In other words, if the Shariah permits acceptance of the gift, accept it, otherwise refrain, e.g. the gift is presented by a person whose earnings are unlawful or the giver is a minor. If you have this knowledge regarding the giver, refuse acceptance of the gift.
Ilm-e-Baatin refers to the knowledge of your inner condition. If you have need for the object presented, accept only what you need and leave the excess. If, however, it is your intention to give the excess to others, you may accept it. Also, do not accept something which you have abandoned in the process of training your nafs for the sake of Allah Ta’ala, for perhaps Allah Ta’ala is sending it to you by way of trial.
Do not accept the gifts of proud people and of those who advertise their favours. Similarly, do not accept a gift from such a person whose presentation of a gift produces pressure on your heart for some reason or the other. These are examples of Ilm-e-Baatini. (Another example is a gift which is anticipated. On seeing a particular person, the heart expects or anticipates him making a gift. It is not permissible for the Saalik to accept such a gift. This is termed Ishraafun Nafs. – Translator).
CHAPTER ON THE EVILS OF THE NAFS AND OPPOSITION TO IT
Paying attention to your spiritual ailments is better than turning your gaze in the direction of attaining things which are out of your sight.
O Mureed! You are eager to discover hidden entities. You desire to know of the Divine Mysteries, secrets and subtleties. You consider these entities to be the Maqsood (Goal) or the introductory stage of the Maqsood. Remember that to incline the heart in this direction and to pursue these hidden entities are not for your welfare. In fact, this attitude is harmful for you. It is better for you to view your spiritual defects such as riya, hasad, takabbur, etc., and to concern yourself with their elimination.
If in the course of your spiritual journey some mystery is revealed to you, do not attach significance to it. Keep in mind that your purpose is the purification of your nafs from evil attributes.
Expel every human quality which stands in opposition to your worship (and obedience of Allah) so that you become one who answers the Call of Allah and gain His Proximity.
There are two kinds of human attributes – vice and virtue. The virtuous attributes (Ausaaf-e-Mahmoodah) are obedience, Imaan, humility, contentment, patience, etc. The evil attributes (Ausaaf-e-Mazmoomah) are classified into two categories. The first class is related to the physical limbs, e.g. back-biting, injustice, theft, etc. The second class of evil attributes is related to the heart, e.g. pride, vanity, jealously, etc.
Ausaaf-e-Mazmoomah are in conflict with worship and obedience. It is imperative to strive to eliminate these evil attributes. The heart will become adorned with the Ausaaf-e-Mahmoodah after it has been purified from the Ausaaf-e-Mazmoomah. Only then will man accept the baatini (inner) Call of Allah Ta’ala.
Allah Ta’ala constantly calls you to His obedience. The Qur’aan says:
“And Allah calls (you) to the Abode of Peace (Jannat).”
You should be one who truthfully acknowledges this Divine Call. You will then attain Divine Proximity. Without purification of the nafs from the evil qualities, you will not be able to truthfully answer His Call. In consequence, you will be deprived of Divine Proximity. A man who is soiled with impurities is unfit for presentation in the Royal Court.
The root of every sin, ghaflat (inertia); bestial desire is pleasure with one’s nafs and the seed of every obedience; alertness and purity are displeasure with one’s nafs.
When a man is pleased with his condition, then he is in fact pleased with his nafs, whether his state be good or bad. This pleasure with the nafs is the root of every evil, negligence and lowly nafsaani desire.
When a man in pleased with his nafs, its defects and evils will be concealed from his gaze. His own evil will also appear pleasing. His heart will feel safe and satisfied with his nafs. He will then become forgetful of Allah Ta’ala. In the wake of ghaflat (forgetfulness, neglect, inertia), wasaawis (stray satanic thoughts) and lustful desires will strike him with force. Sin will then be the result.
Being displeased with the state of one’s nafs is the root of obedience, alertness and purity. When man is displeased with his nafs, he will always be alert. He will understand every trick and desire of this enemy. He will examine intelligently every demand of the nafs on the standard of the Shariah. Any demand he finds in conflict with the Shariah will be shunned.
In the initial stage, the struggle against the nafs is difficult. Sometimes the nafs will emerge victorious and sometimes it will be defeated. However, if the struggle (Mujaahadah) is maintained, the power if the nafs will gradually be neutralised and it will become content with the Shariah. It will then refrain from rebellion. Purity and obedience will become its nature. Sin and inertia will be banished.
By Allah! Your companionship with a jaahil (ignoramus) who is displeased with his nafs is better than association with an Aalim who is pleased with his nafs. Of what benefit is his knowledge to him? And, what harm is the ignorance of an ignoramus who is dissatisfied with his nafs?
Since the benefit of an a lim’s companionship and the harm of a jaahil’s company are acknowledged facts, the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) takes an oath and says that the companionship of such a man who although ignorant of book (external) knowledge, is displeased with his nafs, is superior to the companionship of an a lim who is satisfied with his nafs. The ignorant man (mentioned in this context) although lacking in academic knowledge, understands with conviction that his nafs is the embodiment of evil and defect. He does not commit the error of believing in having any excellences. Such a man is kaamil (spiritually perfect). He is not an ignoramus.
On the other hand if a man is contented with his nafs, then despite his qualifications in academic knowledge, his association will prove harmful. In him is the root of every evil, hence even if his zaahiri (academic) knowledge induces him to obey the Shariat, his moral state is dangerous. One cannot repose confidence in him. His spiritual disease will most certainly exercise its influence at some time. His companionship will harm whoever is in his association because the influence of companionship is an acknowledged fact. Such a person will be enamoured by his academic research and be pleased with himself. This is precisely ghaflat.
This disease (being satisfied with one’s nafs) is extremely subtle. The one in whom it lurks is himself unable to detect it. The man who is always displeased with the state of his nafs regardless of how beautiful the condition of the nafs may appear, will not be harmed by ignorance. On the other hand, an a lim who is contented with his nafs and endeavours to acquire the pleasure of the people for his acts, his knowledge is of no benefit.
How is it possible for supernatural acts to emanate from you when you have not yet abandoned nafsaani habits.
Miraculous demonstrations or supernatural acts displayed by a man who is obedient to the Shariah and follows the Shariah meticulously, are called Karaamaat. If such acts are demonstrated by irreligious persons, they will be termed Istidraaj (which are satanic manifestations).
Many Saalikeen who suffer from the ailment of the desire for fame, hanker after Karaamaat. The Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh), therefore, says when you, the mureed have not eliminated your evil attributes, how can you expect to display miracles? Karaamat is Divine Testimony for the Wilaayat (Sainthood) of a person. When the mureed is bogged down in lowly attributes, how can he expect Divine Testimony? He lacks in Wilaayat.
When the pleasure of lustful desires becomes entrenched in the heart, it becomes an incurable disease.
Some physical ailments deteriorate to the degree of incurability and the patient is rendered terminally ill. The case of spiritual ailments is similar.
Everyone is plagued with nafsaani desires and the desires for worldly pleasure. But when the pleasure of some lowly desire becomes ingrained in the heart, the disease becomes incurable. Imaan, Taa-at and Istighfaar–although these are remedies for spiritual ailments, are efficacious as long as the disease has not become ingrained in the heart. After entrenchment in the heart, only the Fadhl of Allah Ta’ala can eliminate it.
It is therefore, essential that the Saalik ensures from the very beginning that spiritual ailments do not become ingrained in the heart.
There is no fear of the paths of worship becoming obscure and confusing for you. But there is the danger of nafsaani love dominating you.
The paths of worship are the ways which are Allah’s commands for the bandah at all times, e.g. For a ni’mat (bounty), shukr (gratitude) in incumbent; for a calamity, sabr (patience) is essential; for disobedience, repentance and regret are necessary. The Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) says, that there is not much fear of these ways becoming obscure and confusing for you because the Qur’aan, Hadith and the Books of Fiqh have explicitly explained these acts. The Ulama have simplified this with their expositions. Books, big and small, are available in abundance in every language. There is, therefore, no fear of the laws of Allah Ta’ala becoming obscure.
However, there exists the danger of nafsaani desire overwhelming you at the time of executing the commands of Allah. Such desire will prevent you from obeying the teachings of Allah and His Rasool, thus plunging you into sin, e.g. You become proud of the attainment of some bounty, hence you forget The True Benefactor (Mun’im-e-Haqeeqi). Or, at the time of calamity, the nafs overwhelms you and induces you to act in conflict with the Shariah.
Thus, of utmost importance is to remain submissive to Allah Ta’ala in every circumstance and condition which settles on you and to suppress the rebellion of the nafs.
People praise you on account of such Ausaaf-e-Hameedah (Praiseworthy attributes) which they believe are imbued within you. You should revile your nafs for the evil attributes in you.
Man is deceived by the praises which people laud on him on account of some attribute of excellence. Such praise produces ujub (vanity, self-esteem) in him. He then tends to forget his reality. It is for this reason that the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) says that people praise you for virtuous attributes which they imagine are in you. But, they in fact do not know if these imagined lofty attributes actually exist in you or not. If you are intelligent, you will not be deceived by their plots. Attribute their praises to their imagination while you should criticise and revile your nafs on account of the presence of evil attributes and bad habits. You do have irrefutable evidence, knowledge and experience of you own short-comings and evil qualities. Your knowledge of your evil attributes, therefore, is certain while of your good qualities, your knowledge is doubtful.
When the true Mu’min is praised, he feels embarrassed in front of Allah Ta’ala because he is being praised for an attribute which he cannot perceive with certitude in his nafs.
At all times the close servants of Allah have the perception of Allah Ta’ala. His Beauty, Excellence, Perfection and Grandeur are perpetually in view. In the presence of Allah, they have absolutely no existence. They believe themselves to be embodiments of deficiencies and evils. In relation to the Divine Presence they regard themselves to be non-existent.
In view of this conception, they feel highly embarrassed if praised, since they are aware of the non-existence of the attributes for which they are praised. However, the man who is ghaafil becomes puffed up with vanity believing that the praise is on account of some excellence which he most certainly possesses.
The greatest ignoramus is the man who forgets his proven evil attributes on account of the good qualities which people imagine to be in him.
Generally, people entertain a good opinion of a man and praise him. They conclude the existence of lofty attributes in a man from his behaviour, states and actions, e.g. when they see a man performing Namaaz with great care, they infer that he is a pious man (buzrug), even if all the attributes of sainthood are not found in him and even if his Namaaz abounds with satanic and nafsaani thoughts. Thus, the person who is delighted with the praise of imagined virtues in him while being blind to the certain defects in him, is the greatest ignoramus.
The stench of baatini evils is worse than the stench of physical putrefied matter. O ignoramus! How can you be pleased with such stench?
When your Maula (Master) activates the tongues of people with such praises which you do not deserve, then moisten your tongue with such praise which He deserves.
When people praise you, it in reality is the effect of Allah Ta’ala activating their tongues. If Allah Ta’ala employs the tongues of people to laud on you praises which you do not deserve, then it behoves you to offer such praise to That Pure Being, which is befitting to Him. Do not praise those who are praising you. Their praise in reality is Allah’s veil of concealment (Sattaari) which hides your defects from others. Therefore, do not become trapped by the praises of people.
In sin the pleasure for the nafs is overt and in obedience the pleasure is covert. The remedy for an ailment which is hidden is difficult.
As long as the nafs has not reached the stage of Mut-mainnah, it will interfere in every act, be it taa-at (obedience) or ma’siyat (sin). Its interference in ma’siyat is plainly evident. The nafs derives full pleasure in sin. Despite its knowledge of Divine Chastisement, the nafs perpetrates the sin because of the pleasure it derives.
The nafs does not refrain from staking its claim of pleasure in even obedience. But, it is difficult to understand this plot of the nafs. It is generally understood that the nafs has no share in taa-at because obedience is difficult and detestable to the nafs, hence in conflict with its wishes. It should be well understood that inspite of the difficulty of taa-at, the nafs does derive pleasure therein. In some persons is found love for fame; in some is show (riya). Even if the ibaadat is performed initially with Ikhlaas (sincerity), the nafs contaminates it with riya and hubb-e-jah. Some people believe that the pleasure and sweetness experienced in ibaadat are the goal to strive for. The sign of this misconception is that the nafs induces man to rush towards the form of ibaadat in which it derives greater pleasure. It will constrain one to refrain from other types of ibaadat even if these are obligatory since it does not derive pleasure therein, e.g. a man performs Nafl Namaaz in abundance but refrains from paying Zakaat. He experiences pleasure in Nafl Namaaz, not so in Zakaat. This indicates that in his performance of Nafl Namaaz the nafs derives some pleasure and that this person searches for the pleasure of the nafs, not for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala. If he was interested in Allah’s pleasure, he would not abstain from paying Zakaat.
Thus, the nafs has its share of pleasure even in ibaadat. Although the operation of the nafs in ibaadat is extremely well-concealed, the people of insight (the Masha-ikh) are able to fathom it.
When an ailment is concealed, its remedy is difficult on account of diagnosis being difficult. When even awareness of the existence of the disease is lacking and the person is considered to be spiritually healthy, then the disease is incurable.
When there is ambiguity regarding two acts, making it difficult to decide the best option, then opt for the act which is more difficult on the nafs. The Haq is more difficult on the nafs.
When one experiences uncertainty in the choice of one of two Mustahab (meritorious) or Jaa-iz (lawful) acts, then it is necessary to reflect in order to establish which act is more difficult and displeasing to the nafs. Adopt the act which is more displeasing to the nafs. The act which is better for this person will be more difficult on the nafs.
The nature of the nafs is jahl (ignorance). It, therefore, always searches for things which are pleasurable to it while it flees from things which are beneficial for it.
The Hamd and Thana (Praises) of Allah Ta’ala prevent man from gratitude to his nafs and from honouring his nafs. The thought of fulfilling the Huqooq of Allah prevents from the remembrance of nafsaani pleasures.
Beautiful habits and virtuous attributes are purely the fadhl (grace) of Allah Ta’ala. When the bandah attributes his virtuous state to his nafs, he will be guilty of showing gratitude to his nafs, thereby honouring it. It does not behove the true Mu’min to do so.
The true and perfect Mu’min will recite the praise of Allah when goodness emanates from him because Allah Ta’ala is the True Actor. He is the Creator of all actions of man. The bandah is only the abode of manifestation for Allah’s acts of creation. He, therefore, should not attribute his virtuous deeds to his nafs.
When he offers Hamd and Thana to Allah Ta’ala, he will not view his virtues as the deeds of his nafs. Therefore, man should engross himself in proclaiming the praises of Allah Ta’ala and perpetually keep in mind the fulfilment of the Huqooq of Allah Ta’ala. He should not heed the pleasure of the nafs, i.e. in Ibaadat and Taa-aat he should not satisfy the desire of his nafs. The desire for Jannat, salvation from Jahannum and sweetness in worship should not be fixed as the goals of one’s pursuit. If these objects are his goals, his sincerity will be contaminated. The duty of the slave is to serve his Master. He should not be motivated by personal pleasure and desires.
If there did not exist the fields of emotional (nafsaani) desires and pleasure, there would then not have been the journey of Sulook by which the Saalikeen travel towards Allah Ta’ala because there is no physical distance for you to traverse in order to reach Allah Ta’ala. In the physical sense there is no separation between Allah Ta’ala and yourself.
Literally the meaning of Sulook is to traverse a distance (physical distance). In the terminology of the Sufiyaa, Sulook means to overcome and abandon the emotional and bestial attributes and desires by means of Mujaahadah (struggle against the nafs), Riyaadhat (specially designed devotional exercises), Taa-aat (acts of obedience) and Thikrullah. Man’s domination over his nafs should reach such a degree that observance of the laws of the Shariah becomes man’s nature and the heart remains engrossed in the remembrance of Allah Ta’ala. This stage of control and domination over the nafs is also called Wasl which means ‘having reached Allah Ta’ala’.
The desires and pleasures of the nafs have been described as ‘fields’ because the nafs runs and operates in them. If man was without nafsaani desires, there would not have been the spiritual journey for the Saalikeen since the objective of Sulook or Sêr Ilallaah (Journeying to Allah) is to subjugate the desires of the nafs to the Law of Allah by way of Mujaahadah. The meaning of Sulook here is the spiritual sojourn towards Allah, not a physical journey. The literal meaning could only be applicable if there was physical distance between man and Allah. But, Allah is not material or physical body and form.
Similarly, the meaning of Wasl with Allah Ta’ala also means the subjugation of the nafsaani promptings and desires.
The Qur’aanic verse:
“We are nearer to man than his jugular vein.”,
negates any idea of Sulook being a journey in which the Saalik has to traverse physical distance to reach Allah Ta’ala.
CHAPTER ON MODERATION IN
HOPES AND WISHES
Deficiency in the hope for Divine Forgiveness when error and sin are committed is a sign of reliance on one’s virtuous deeds.
In every single act the reliance of the a rifeen is only on Allah Ta’ala. They do not rely on their spiritual states, knowledge and righteous deeds.
When these Saints of Allah render virtuous deeds, their hopes do not rise. They do not feel that they have acquired elevation in their ranks on account of their pious deeds. They perpetually dwell in the hope of Allah’s mercy. Their gaze is never on their righteous deeds.
On the other hand, the non- a rif reposes confidence on his good acts. When he practises virtue, his hopes rise and he feels pleased with himself, thinking that he has now become deserving of Maghfirat (Forgiveness) and Jannat. When he sins, his hopes sag. Since his reliance is on his own deeds, he labours under the impression that his sins constitute an obstacle in the path of Divine Rahmat. In consequence, such a person often abandons righteous deeds and takes to the road of sin. This is plain stupidity and ignorance.
Although A’maal-e-Saalihah are commanded and A’maal-e-Baatilah (sins) are forbidden, they do not constitute the basis of Maghfirat. The basis is solely Allah’s Mercy. Thus, the sinner should not despair. He should advance along the spiritual path and turn the gaze of his heart away from his deeds, relying solely on the Mercy of Allah.
The aforementioned explanation should not be misconstrued. It should not be understood to mean abstention from regret and repentance after commission of sin. Regret and repentance are essential. The Mu’min will most assuredly repent. However, he will not despair of Allah’s mercy.
If Allah Ta’ala returns you to your nafs, then your misfortune is limitless. If He reveals His grace and kindness to you, then there is no limit to your fortune.
The natural propensity of the nafs is evil and vice. Whatever virtue emanates from it, is purely the fadhl of Allah Ta’ala. If Allah Ta’ala allows you to remain enslaved to your nafs, and withholds His grace and kindness from you then there will be no end to your evil because the nafs is the abode of all evils and mischief.
On the other hand, if Allah Ta’ala directs His grace and kindness to you, then your virtues will be limitless on account of His grace being limitless.
Thus, when goodness emanates from the bandah, he should contemplate on the grace of Allah and refrain from attributing the virtue to his nafs. But if he perpetrates transgression, he should know that it is from his nafs.
Whoever has the notion of his good speech being the product of his virtuous deeds, will be silenced by his sinful acts on account of shame and embarrassment. Whoever speaks, bearing in mind the kindness of Allah Ta’ala, his sins will not silence him.
If the propagator of Naseehat to people or the one who expounds spiritual realities and subtleties labours under the impression that the knowledge which he is expounding is the consequence of his uprighteousness and good deeds, then he will be silenced if he commits a sin. Since his gaze is riveted on his uprighteousness, shame will overwhelm him. He will feel his discourses to be hypocritical, hence abandon his duty of propagating the truth.
But, this is not the state of the a rif who believes that whatever knowledge and virtue he possesses are the fadhl of Allah Ta’ala. Since this is his constant perception, he never attributes anything of his excellences to his nafs. Should he commit a sin, he will not abandon the duty of proclaiming Allah’s Law. He will continue to proclaim the Law with the same confidence and eloquence with which he rendered his duty before the sin.
When you wish the Door of Hope to open for you, then contemplate on Your True Master’s kindness and bounties. When you wish the Door of Fear to open, then contemplate on the sins and transgression you had committed.
The state of his nafs and the evils perpetrated by him are kept in view by the Saalik. As a result, his heart suffers grief and despondency. Sometimes he is overwhelmed by despair and he loses hope in the mercy of Allah, which is, in fact, kufr. At times when the despair becomes excessive, the Saalik will abandon even Namaaz, Roza, etc. It is, therefore, essential that the aspect of Divine Mercy be kept in view.
When despair sets in, the Saalik should employ his intelligence. He should bring into contemplation all the bounties and favours which Allah Ta’ala has conferred on him. He should then convince himself that if it was Allah’s desire to destroy him, He would not have blessed him with so many zaahiri and baatini favours. He should meditate for a considerable time on this aspect. Allah Ta’ala will hopefully open the door of hope for the Saalik and the state of despair will be dispelled.
Sometimes the opposite condition settles over the Saalik. Perceiving his good deeds, he develops vanity and self-esteem. On such occasions the Saalik should call to memory his acts of disobedience and transgression. This contemplation will engender fear in him.
Neither should the Saalik permit despair to overwhelm him nor excessive hope which will render him audacious. He should adopt moderation.
True rajaa (hope) is that which accompanies righteous deeds otherwise it is false hope.
The rajaa which is genuine is the hope which the Saalik entertains when practising righteousness. Along with his practice of virtue he hopes for the mercy of Allah Ta’ala. The man who has hope of reaping the fruits of his farm, will expend full effort in ploughing and caring for his fields. Similarly, the Saalik who has hope of acquiring Allah’s mercy, will diligently involve himself in practising virtuous deeds. His hope will then be justified and be true.
If he acts in conflict with the Shariah and refrains from A’maal-e-Saalihah, his hope for Divine mercy and Jannat will be vain and false. It is false to describe such vain hope as rajaa. Such a person is like one who does not plough his land, but expects to reap a crop.
If you do not have a high opinion of your True Master by virtue of His Attributes of Excellence, then at least establish a good opinion of Him by virtue of the beautiful treatment He accords you. Has He not showered His Kindness on you? Has He not conferred His Bounties on you?
A true Mu’min is he who holds a high opinion of His Rabb. He understands that whatever treatment his Creator metes out is for his own benefit and welfare regardless of it being pleasing or displeasing. Since all attributes of Allah Ta’ala are only of excellence and nothing else, whatever is decreed by Him will be for the benefit of the Mu’min.
Although His attributes of excellence and perfection demand that the Mu’min holds the highest esteem for Allah Ta’ala (i.e. with regard to His attributes of perfection), nevertheless, if you lack this ability, then at least ponder on the treatment which you have received from Allah Ta’ala to this day. Do you not acknowledge His boundless favours upon you? He created you in perfect form. He bestowed a variety of innumerable bounties to you. You are, in fact, drowned in the abundance of favours. This wonderful relationship which Allah Ta’ala has with you should be sufficient to induce in you a good opinion of Him.
The high esteem on account of Allah’s attributes of excellence is the rank of Allah’s selected servants. Those who lack this rank should contemplate on the bounties of Allah Ta’ala for the cultivation of a beautiful comprehension of Allah Ta’ala.
He who thinks it amazing and difficult that Allah Ta’ala will release him (the Saalik) from the grip of nafsaani desires and from the prison of ghaflat, casts the blemish of inability (Ijz) against the infinite power of Allah. But, Allah has power over all things.
Sometimes people lost in worldly affairs and forgetful of Allah Ta’ala, on seeing a pious man, yearn to be like him. They momentarily yearn to be free from worldly encumbrances so that they too could take to the path of piety. But, the nafs immediately raises its head and neutralises their eagerness for piety. The nafs leads them to believe that on account of their numerous mundane involvements, it is not possible for them to adopt piety. Their initial idea appears extremely far-fetched and impossible of realisation.
Similarly, some Thaakireen despite their Thikr and Mujahadah do not discern any improvement in their moral and spiritual condition. They then labour under the notion of the impossibility of their reformation.
There are also such Thaakireen in whose hearts Thikr has taken effect, but has not become entrenched. They, therefore, sometimes experience ghaflat and sometimes kayfiyat (the spiritual effect of Thikr). This fluctuating state remains for even years. They, therefore, begin to believe that it is impossible to eliminate their ghaflat and improve their condition.
For such people the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) says that those who feel that it is difficult for Allah Ta’ala to extricate them from the grip of their nafs, are in reality attributing weakness to Allah Ta’ala. They are implying by their attitude that the infinite Qudrat (Power) of Allah Ta’ala is defective – Na-uthubillah!
It is within Allah’s power to deliver you from the grip of your nafs and bless you with His remembrance. There is, therefore, no need for despair. Many Auliya were involved in sin and transgression in their initial stage, but later Allah Ta’ala elevated them to the rank of Auliya and Masha-ikh. He bestowed elevated ranks to them.
There is nothing but Khauf (fear) or intense Shauq (eagerness) which can prevent and expel the lustful desires of the nafs. Khauf is cultivated by meditation on the Fiery Attributes (Sifaat-e-Jalaal) of Allah or on the terror of the Day of Qiyaamah. Shauq is acquired by contemplating on the Beautiful Attributes (Sifaat-e-Jamaal) of Allah Ta’ala or on Jannat and its pleasures.
It was explained earlier that when a nafsaani desire becomes grounded in the heart, it is most difficult to remedy it. The Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) informs of its remedy. There are two treatments for such a severe disease: Khauf and Shauq.
Khauf (Fear) is either of the terrifying episodes of Qiyaamat or of the Fiery Attributes of Allah Ta’ala. The former is for the masses. The second kind of Khauf for His Sifaat-e-Jalaal such as Him being Qahhaar (Wrathful), Jabbaar (Powerful in Punishment), Muntaqim (Vengeful), etc., is for the elite (i.e. the select ones striving to attain His Proximity).
By meditating on these issues for some time, Khauf will be cultivated. Gradually it will permeate the heart and eliminate the domination of emotional desires.
Shauq (Eagerness, Yearning) is achieved by contemplating the pleasures of Jannat. This kind of Shauq is for laymen who strive to gain piety. The second kind of Shauq is achieved by meditating on Allah’s attributes of Beauty such as Him being Rahmaan (Most Merciful), Ghafoor (Most Forgiving), etc. This kind of Shauq is for the elite.
It should, however, be understood that Khauf and Shauq of an inferior degree will not eradicate lust from the heart. To eliminate the entrenched disease of shahwat (lust), a strong state of either Khauf or Shauq is essential. In view of the essentiality of a high degree of these states, the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) qualifies Khauf with the adjective, ‘preventive’ and Shauq with ‘intense’.
Do not despair of the acceptance of an act in which you do not experience the pleasure of concentration. In most cases acts, the worldly fruits of which you do not experience, are accepted. (Worldly fruits: sweetness, pleasure and concentration in ibaadat).
Hudhoor-e-Kaamil (Perfect Concentration) is to perform ibaadat with such concentration of mind and heart as if you are seeing Allah Ta’ala. Not a vestige of shaitaani and nafsaani thoughts remains to distract the heart from Allah Ta’ala. The pleasure of such Hudhoor permeates the entire being of the bandah. If by the fadhl of Allah Ta’ala the bandah has gained such a high degree of concentration, it indicates that his ibaadat is accepted by Allah Ta’ala.
If the bandah fails to attain this high degree of concentration, he should not despair nor interpret it as rejection of his ibaadat. While Hudhoori is the sign of acceptance, it is not conditional for acceptance of ibaadat. Thus, the absence of a sign does not indicate rejection of the act. It frequently happens that despite acceptance by Allah Ta’ala, the effects of the ibaadat are withheld here on earth. The reward is reserved for the Hereafter.