CHAPTER ON ALLAH’S PROXIMITY TO CREATION
Entire creation is darkness. Divine Manifestation has brightened it. Whoever saw creation without perceiving Allah Ta’ala in it (creation) or near it or before it or after it has failed to discern the existence of anwaar which become concealed in the clouds of the impressions of the Sun of Ma-aarif.
Existence is noor while non-existence is darkness. Entire creation with regard to its being (Thaat) is pure non-existence. Man or any other item of creation has no existence of its own. The manifestation of Allah’s attributes bestowed existence and brightness to the universe. Creation is for this reason illuminated with the radiance of existence. This is what makes it visible. Thus, in reality, there is only one existence, viz. the existence of Allah Ta’ala.
There are various kinds of mushaahadah of the people of baseerat (spiritual insight) whose gaze is fixed on reality. Some of these Auliya, when their gaze falls on creation, perceive the Creator first. As a result of Divine Illumination, creation receded into oblivion. After having made mushaahadah of the Creator, they perceive the creation. For others, creation is presented as a mirror for the beauty and grandeur of the Creator. Thus, they perceive Allah in or with creation. Those whose gaze is only on creation, not perceiving the Creator in any way, are completely deprived of the noor of ma’rifat. The mysteries of ma’rifat which are like the sun’s light are concealed in the clouds of physical creation. They are, therefore, deprived of this treasure.
The true reality of mushaahadah and its elucidation are not rational concepts, but are comprehended by intuition and inspiration.
When Allah Ta’ala deprives you of His mushaahadah with something which does not exist with him, it is a clear sign of His Wrath and Chastisement.
Earlier it was mentioned that true existence belongs only to Allah Ta’ala Who has no partner. A concept which posits true existence for any being other than Allah Ta’ala is shirk in the Divine Attribute of Existence (Wujood). An object will be concealed from another object if there is a third object intervening, e.g. the sun will be concealed from our gaze by intervening clouds.
Here the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) mentions the wonderful qudrat (power) of Allah Ta’ala. A conspicuous proof of His Wrath is that he prevents people from seeing Him by veiling Himself with objects which are devoid of true existence. These objects are the material items of creation. People fix their gaze on these material objects and cannot look beyond. While they see things which lack true existence, their gaze fails to discern the One Who truly exists. When there is no intervening obstacle, then rationally one should be able to perceive the True Existence since the material obstacle is devoid of true existence. But, by virtue of Allah’s qudrat, He has prevented people from perceiving Him even though there is, in reality, no intervening object.
In the ensuing statements, the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) presents several arguments for the contention that creation cannot rationally be a screen for the Divine Thaat (Being).
How is it conceivable for anything to screen off mushaahadah of Him when He has manifested everything from the darkness of pure non-existence?
When Allah Ta’ala has bestowed the light of existence to everything after extracting it from the darkness of non-existence, how could it be conceivable for such objects to prevent His mushaahadah?
How is it conceivable for anything to be a veil for His mushaahadah when He is with everything?
When all objects of creation point to His existence, how can they constitute veils concealing Him? They reveal Him. They do not conceal Him.
How is it conceivable for anything to conceal Him when His Manifestation is conspicuous in everything?
All objects of creation are the aathaar (impressions) of the lofty attributes and names of Allah Ta’ala. His attributes shine out in every object of creation. Living objects manifest His attributes of life (creation). He is Muhyi (Creator of life). Dead objects manifest His attribute of causing death. He is Mumeet (Taker of life). His attribute of knowledge shines in the a lim while His Name of dignity is manifest in people of honour and respect. Thus, everything is a manifestation of some Divine Attribute. Nothing can, therefore, conceal Him.
How is it conceivable for anything to conceal Him when His illumination is manifest to everything?
The illumination (tajalli) of Allah Ta’ala is on every object. All things have knowledge of Him in proportion to the degree of Divine Illumination on them. Hence all things glorify Him and submit to Him although we are not able to understand. Every object is a substratum for Divine Illumination, how is it possible for it to conceal Him?
How is it conceivable for anything to conceal Him when He preceded the existence of all things in existence and conspicuousness?
Zuhoor (Manifestation – to be conspicuous) is His eternal attribute which existed before the existence of creation. The manifestation of creation, is in fact, the shadow of His attribute of Zuhoor. Nothing in creation can, therefore, conceal Him.
How is it conceivable for anything to conceal Him when He is the most conspicuous?
Earlier it was mentioned that creation, in reality is non-existent and only Allah Ta’ala has true existence. Wujood (existence) being more conspicuous than adm (non-existence) is self-evident. Thus, the Zuhoor of Allah Ta’ala is greater than the Zuhoor of creation. On account of the intensity of Divine Conspicuousness, the aql (intelligence) fails to comprehend Him just as the eye cannot stare at the sun. The mole which cannot see the sun’s light because of visual incapacity cannot say that the sun is inconspicuous. Nothing can, therefore conceal Him.
How is it conceivable for anything to conceal Him when, in relation to other things, He is closer to you.
Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’aan Majeed:
“We are closer to man than (his) jugular vein.”
When Allah Ta’ala is closer to man than even his own life, nothing can conceal Him from man. It is only our own existence which has become a veil.
How is it conceivable for anything to be a veil concealing Him when our existence is dependent on His Existence. If He had not existed, creation would not have existed.
Since every existence is entirely dependent on Allah’s existence, nothing can constitute a veil to conceal Him from man.
O People! It is amazing how Wujood (existence) came into existence from adm (non-existence). It is amazing how the temporal co-exists with the Eternal.
When only Allah’s Thaat (Being) has true existence and everything else is baseless and pure non-existence, it is truly amazing that wujood came in adm because wujood and adm are opposites. It is also wonderful that the temporal (i.e. created objects) can co-exist with the Eternal (i.e. Allah Ta’ala). The Eternal is True and Real and the temporal is false and unreal. Thus, the Qur’aan says:
“Everything will be destroyed, except His Face.”
Allah Ta’ala is not behind a veil. Only you have been prevented from perceiving Him because of your nafsaani attributes. If He had to be behind a veil, it would have encircled and engulfed Him. But, He encompasses everything, hence He predominates. Thus, there can be nothing to conceal Him.
Allah Ta’ala is conspicuous – His Being as well as His Attributes. His beauty and grandeur shine out in everything and in every place. He is not in any kind of veil. The veil is from the side of people whose spiritual insight is impeded by the veil of nafsaani attributes.
If you desire to perceive His beauty and grandeur, then lift this veil of nafsaaniyat by means of mujaahadah, a’maal-e-saalihah, thikr and obedience to a kaamil Shaikh. When this has been achieved, you will see nothing other than Allah.
How is it possible for any veil to conceal Him when He encompasses all things?
By virtue of the noor of Aql (intelligence and Ilmul Yaqeen you are able to perceive proximity (Qurb) of Allah Ta’ala. The noor of Ilm (knowledge) and Ainul Yaqeen display to you your non-existence in relation to His existence. The noor of Haqq and Haqqul Yaqeen cause you to perceive only His existence, neither your existence nor your non-existence.
When the Saalik engrosses himself in the quest for Allah Ta’ala, executing all acts of obedience, Thikr-e-Lisaani (verbal thikr) and Thikr-e-Qalbi (thikr with the heart) according to the instruction of a Shaikh-e-Kaamil, then Allah Ta’ala by His special grace expands his heart imbuing it with a noor. This noor is called Noor-e-Aql and Ilmul Yaqeen. By virtue of this noor, the Saalik makes mushaahadah of Qurb-e-Ilaahi (Divine Proximity). Spiritually the Saalik perceives that he is close to Allah Ta’ala every moment of his life. The effect of this perception is the disappearance of rebellion from the nafs. The domination of Akhlaaq-e-Zameemah (evil qualities) and contamination are broken. Haya (shame) will become dominant. The Saalik will abstain from prohibitions and be ever prepared for submitting to the commands of Allah Ta’ala.
When this condition becomes entrenched, Allah Ta’ala bestows another noor to the heart, which is called Noor-e-Ilm and also Ainul Yaqeen. By virtue of this noor the Saalik sees everything besides Allah to be non-existent. He regards himself and all things to be absolute nothing. After having achieved the first noor, the Saalik perceived himself to be in the presence of Allah Ta’ala, which means that the Saalik recognises his own existence. After acquisition of the second noor, the existence of all creation passes into oblivion. Only the existence of Allah Ta’ala is in view.
The effects of this mushaahadah will be total reliance on only Allah Ta’ala. The Saalik will have absolutely no trust and reliance on anything in creation, and his gaze will remain diverted from all things besides Allah Ta’ala. On reaching this maqaam (stage), the Saalik acquires the attributes of tafweez (assigning everything to Allah Ta’ala), tawakkul (trust), radha bar qadha (contentment with Divine Decrees) and tasleem (submission).
Thereafter, comes a third noor in the heart. It is called Noor-e-Haqq as well as Haqqul Yaqeen. With this noor the Saalik perceives only the Thaat (Being) of Allah. Neither is the existence nor the non-existence of the universe in view. The Saalik already perceived the non-existence of all things with the second noor. This leads to the condition in which the Saalik still considers his ego even though it pertains to his non-existence. He has not yet attained complete Fanaa (Annihilation). The awareness of one’s existence and non-existence also constitutes a veil.
The meaning of Fanaa-e-Kaamil (Perfect Annihilation) is to be in the state of Fanaa without even being aware thereof. This lofty state of Divine Absorption is achieved after the Saalik has been endowed with the third noor. Higher than this stage is the rank of Baqaa. In the stage of Baqaa, the Saalik is returned to creation. His attention is again brought to focus on creation. A brief explanation of this stage was given earlier.
Allah Ta’ala existed from always and nothing co-existed with Him. He is everlasting.
Since Allah Ta’ala is eternal, He existed always. Just as He was unique in His existence prior to the appearance of creation, so too is He after the appearance of creation. No one is associated in His attribute of existence. The Saalik who has attained Fanaa-e-Kaamil (Perfect Annihilation), sees nothing with him besides Allah Ta’ala.
This state of the Saalik, which he has achieved after attainment of Fanaa-e-Kaamil does not imply that this attribute has now been confirmed for Allah Ta’ala. The Saalik now perceives the unique existence of Allah Ta’ala because formerly he was behind a veil, hence he would perceive other entities along with Allah’s existence. Now after lifting of the veil, his spiritual comprehension (idraak) has been rectified enabling him to observe the one and unique existence of Allah Ta’ala.
It is very surprising to observe that you are fleeing from Him, from Whom you cannot separate yourself in any way and you search for that with which you will not be able to live. Truly, the eyes are not blind, but the hearts are blind.
Man is inseparable from his True Master, Allah Ta’ala. Inspite of this, he seeks to flee. This is most surprising. His submission to his nafs is in fact his attempt to flee from Allah Ta’ala. Man thus abandons the righteousness which brings him closer to Allah Ta’ala. On the other hand, man desires and pursues the world which will perish.
This attitude of man is gross stupidity which is the result of spiritual blindness. While they see with their physical eyes, the spiritual vision of their hearts is blinded.
The ubbaad (worshippers) and the zuhhaad (those who have renounced the world) are veiled off from Allah Ta’ala. They detest and fear everything. If they could only see Allah’s manifestation in all things, they would not find all things detestable.
The ubbaad are those who are always engaged in righteous deeds. They consider a’maal-e-saalihah to be the medium of Qurb (Divine Proximity) as they are unaware of the way of Divine Law and Ma’rifat. The zuhhaad are those persons who have renounced the world and all its pleasures. They regard their renunciation to be the medium of Divine Proximity.
The people of Divine Love and knowledge have no reliance on their righteous deeds nor do they consider abandonment of a lawful desire to be the medium for the acquisition of the Goal. The a bideen and Zaahideen detest association with people and they shun even lawful pleasures because they believe these to be impediments in attaining the Goal, i.e. Divine Proximity. However, the gaze of the a rif is only on Allah Ta’ala. He is not concerned with anything’s existence or non-existence. Besides the Divine Thaat, he perceives nothing else. He sees the manifestation of Allah’s Sifaat (attributes) in everything. Hence, from this angle, the a rif has neither detestation nor fear for anyone or anything. At the same time he has no love for anything. (The comparison here is between two highly elevated groups, viz. Ubbaad/ Zuhhaad and a rifeen. The exposition presented here should not be misunderstood. It should not be inferred from what the Shaikh (the honourable author) says, that the way and attitude of the Ubbaad/Zuhhaad are erroneous. In his exposition, the Shaikh has merely presented the superior course of the two courses of these two highly placed groups of Auliya. The a rif has acquired a higher pinnacle of Divine perception than the Aabid/Zaahid who is yet engaged in the process of Mujaahadah. The Shaikh is not in any way denouncing the attitude and way of the Ubbaad/Zuhhaad. The Path of the Sunnah initiates with Mujaahadah, abandonment of desires, solitude, firmness in ibaadat and abstention from evil. These activities are, undoubtedly, the media for Divine Qurb. However, since the a rif has already traversed the stages of the Aabid/Zaahid, the force irresistibly drawing him higher and higher in the Realm of Qurb-e-Ilaahi is the special Ma’rifat bestowed to him by Allah Ta’ala, hence the superiority if the a rif’s way. But no man can attain the stage of Special Ma’rifat without having traversed the difficult valleys of ibaadat and zuhd, unless Allah Ta’ala so desires, as is the case of the Majzubs – Translator.)
This attitude of the a rif should not be misconstrued. It does not mean that he is absolutely devoid of the attribute of love, affection, fear and detestation. It is not possible to eradicate in entirety the natural attributes of man. However, all the attributes of the a rif are for the sake of Allah and from Allah. The nafs has absolutely no influence in the attributes of the a rif. On the other hand, the ubbaad and the zuhhaad will have love and affection for a good act or a saintly man because they see in it benefit for their nafs and because they consider it a medium for Qurb. Similarly, they will detest and fear something or someone because they discern harm for themselves therein and because they believe it to be a cause for distancing themselves from Allah Ta’ala.
The a rif has no consideration for his nafs. All motives and relationships are negated. Nothing besides Allah Ta’ala exists for him. The nafs has no share in anything the a rif does. The condition of the a rifeen is described in the following Hadith:
“Whoever loves for the sake of Allah, detests for the sake of Allah, gives for the sake of Allah and withholds for the sake of Allah, verily he has perfected his Imaan.”
Thus, the a bid and Zaahid lacking in ma’rifat are still trapped in their nafs. Everything, therefore, is a hijaab (veil) for them, hence they detest and fear these objects.
The existence of such an existence which truly exists with Allah Ta’ala does not constitute a veil for you. But, imaginary existence have veiled you from Allah Ta’ala.
A real existent does not veil a person from Allah nor does it deprive him of Divine Perception. People who are deprived of Divine Proximity, dwelling behind the veil of unmindfulness (ghaflat) and failing to see beyond material creation, have been cast into deprivation by things which they imagine to exist. Believing non-existents to exist, they lapse into ghaflat and are deprived of Allah’s mushaahadah.
Since the a rif’s gaze is only on the Divine Thaat and on the aathaar (impressions) of the Divine Attributes, he regards the whole universe as the shadow of Allah’s Sifaat. Thus, this universe does not constitute a veil for his spiritual vision just as the reflection or shadow of trees in the water does not impede the motion of the boat. However, if the pilot is overwhelmed by his imagination and he believes the shadows to be trees, he will bring the boat to a halt. He will not advance. In his imagination the trees have become obstacles impeding the boat’s movement.
The person whose imagination constitutes a veil can also be likened to a man who hears the roaring of the wind outside his home. He imagines it to be the roaring of a lion and remains indoors fearing the lion which he has imagined. This person is prevented from emerging, not by any real existent, but by his imagination which is baseless, having no real existence.
If it was not for the illumination of His Manifestation, the universe would not have been visible. If His lofty attributes of excellence had to become manifest, entire creation would have been annihilated into nothingness.
This subject has been discussed several times. The entire universe by itself is in fact, non-existent. The only existent is the One, True Existent, Allah Ta’ala. This very same subject is here presented in another style.
The universe which you behold is, in fact, the reflection of the True Existent. If it was not for the Divine Illumination and reflection, this universe would not have existed.
If the Divine Attributes had to radiate on the universe without intervening veils, entire creation would perish. It cannever bear the direct radiation of the Divine Attributes. When the Divine Tajalli appeared on Mount T م r, it was reduced to bits and Musaa (alayhis salaam) fell unconscious.
Since He is the Hidden One, He has revealed everything else and since He is the Manifest, He has wrapped up the existence of everything else.
Zaahir and Baatin are among the attributive Names of Allah Ta’ala. Just as Allah Ta’ala has no partner in His Thaat, so too has He no partners in His Sifaat. Thus, the Divine Attribute of Baatin (The One Who is hidden) dictates that none be associated in His quality of being concealed. He has, therefore, made everything conspicuous. Similarly, His attribute of Zaahir (The One Who is manifest) demands that there be no partner with Him in His quality of being conspicuous. Thus, He has placed everything in concealment. Everything’s existence has, therefore, been wrapped up by Him. Nothing is associated with Him in true existence (Wujood-e-Haqiqi).
Only His Thaat is truly manifest and truly hidden. The manifestation and concealment of all creation are secondary, allegorical and shadow-like.
He has commanded you to contemplate on His creation in this worldly abode. Soon will the Perfect Being become manifest for you in the abode of the Hereafter.
Allah Ta’ala has ordered His servants to reflect and ponder in His creation so that they acknowledge His Being and understand His attributes of knowledge, power and wisdom. After meditation when belief has become grounded, the bandah will gain the ability of perceiving the manifestation of the Divine Attributes in Allah’s created objects. After contemplating and meditating on the Sifaat, he will perceive the Divine Thaat with his spiritual vision.
In this earthly abode the bandah is able to make only mushaahadah of the Divine Illumination with the eyes of the heart. Soon, i.e. in the a khirah, the Perfect Thaat will become manifest. However, the vision of Allah’s Thaat with the physical eyes in the a khirah will be in proportion to the spiritual vision of man here on earth. The greater the mushaahadah with the baatini eyes here on earth, the greater will be man’s physical vision of Allah in the a khirah.
Allah Ta’ala is aware that you are unable to restrain yourself without His mushaahadah, hence He made you perceive His creation.
The true Mu’mineen have an intense love for Allah Ta’ala. In the Qur’aan, Allah Ta’ala says:
“Those who believe are intense in love for Allah.”
Allah Ta’ala is the True Love and everyone loves Him. The lover can have no rest without seeing his Beloved. However, the vision of Allah in this world is difficult without intervening veils because our lowly physical existence cannot bear the sight of the Divine Being.
Allah Ta’ala was well aware that His lovers would be restless because of their inability to see Him. He, therefore, displayed the illumination of His Thaat and Sifaat from behind the veils of His creation to enable the Mu’min to see Him according to the degree of his spiritual vision. Every Mu’min enjoys a degree of this mushaahadah. Thus, belief in the Divine Being is common to all Mu’mineen. This i’tiqaad (belief) is also a kind of mushaahadah.
The fadhl of Allah focuses more on some Mu’mineen, hence they have greater spiritual perception of Allah Ta’ala. The degree of their spiritual yaqeen is similar to physical vision for which there is no need to adduce any proof. The Lovers of Allah derive contentment from this mushaahadah. If this spiritual mushaahadah was not vouchsafed for them, they would have become destroyed and annihilated.
In the a khirah they will be blessed with the great fortune of beholding Allah Ta’ala with their physical eyes.
As long as you do not perceive the Creator in His creation, you will remain subservient to it (creation), and when you perceive Him, then creation will be subservient to you.
As long as man in unable to recognise the Thaat and Sifaat of Allah Ta’ala in creation and the gaze of his heart remains confined to creation, he will remain subservient to creation. Those engrossed in wealth, children and land will remain entrapped in these worldly pursuits. They will be the worshippers of materialism. Those pursuing fame will be subservient to this pursuit. In short, if the pursuit is not Allah Ta’ala, man will remain the slave of whatever he is pursuing.
When man recognises that creation is the substratum for the manifestation of Allah’s illumination and all things besides Allah are banished from his mind, then entire creation becomes subservient to this bandah who then gains independence from creation.
When creation becomes subservient to man, his love permeates the hearts of others. They all love him while there is no room in his heart for anyone’s love. He remains aloof from everyone and everything besides Allah Ta’ala.
He has made lawful for you to contemplate His Beauty in creation. You are not allowed to restrict yourself to the mushaahadah of the thawaat (plural of Thaat – beings) of created objects. Thus, Allah Ta’ala commands:
(‘O Muhammad!) Say: Look at the things which are in the heavens.’
In this, the door of your understanding has been opened up. It is not said: ‘Look at the heavens’, because it would only serve the purpose of seeing the presence of the heavens.
Allah Ta’ala has instructed man to recognise the beauties and splendour of Allah’s Sifaat by meditating on His creation. Entire creation is in reality the reflection of the principles and particulars of the beauties and splendours of His lofty attributes of Jalaal (splendour) and Jamaal (beauty). Man has not been instructed to confine his gaze to only the mere presence of the physical objects. Viewing only the beings (thawaat) of created objects constitutes a veil for the mushaahadah of Allah Ta’ala. Thus, it is seen that people who restrict their gaze to the scenery are dwelling in ghaflat. They are deprived of the mushaahadah of Allah Ta’ala.
The proof for the need to look beyond the mere presence of objects is Allah’s statement:
“Say (O Muhammad!): Look at the things which are in the heavens.”
The command is to meditate on the Sifaat of Allah Ta’ala, which are displayed in the created objects present in the heavenly realms. The order is not simply to view the heavens.
The contemplative study of the things in the heavens opens up a wonderful vista of understanding. You have, in fact, been informed that the purpose of looking at the things in the heavens is not the mushaahadah of these created objects. The purpose is the mushaahadah of Khaaliq (The Creator). If the aim was the mushaahadah of these things, the instruction would simply have been to view the existence of the physical objects. This would not lead to the Creator of the physical objects.
The material objects are in reality non-existent because they have no independent existence. They are the veils of Allah Ta’ala. The purpose of looking at them is to find a way towards the Creator.
The existence of creation is with His command – “Koen!” (“Be!”). In the presence of His Unity, entire creation is annihilated and non-existent.
By itself, creation has no existence. Its existence is like a shadow and a reflection. It gained its existence by the Divine Command: “Be!”
If the gaze is directed to His Unity and uniqueness without looking for His manifestation in the worldly objects, then creation is absolutely annihilated. This concept should not be misconstrued. It should not be inferred that creation is Allah or creation is God-incarnate – Nauthubillah! The Creator remains the Creator and creation remains creation. There is no fusion between the Creator and creation. When a person is not endowed with spiritual insight, he is unable to comprehend transcendental and spiritual realities and states simply on the basis of customary knowledge and the employment of intelligence. When Allah Ta’ala graces a man with spiritual vision, these mysteries become clear.
A person who has acquired the ma’rifat of Allah, has perceived Allah in everything. Whoever has acquired the stage of Fanaa, has disappeared from all things. Whoever has made Him the Beloved, has not chosen anyone else.
Here, the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) discusses ma’rifat, fanaa and muhabbat (love). The signs of the person who has acquired these three stages are explained. The three stages are mentioned in order of priority. Ma’rifat occupies the highest stage. The next stage is fanaa and the third is muhabbat.
When by virtue of Allah’s grace a man is made a perfect a rif, then there is nothing in creation which can prevent him from making mushaahadah of his Rabb in the way the general public is prevented. He does not regard everything to be non-existing as does one who is in the stage of Fanaa and has not yet reached the stage of Baqaa. Since the a rif is annihilated from all things and perpetuated with Allah Ta’ala and His Sifaat, he (the a rif) sees everything. Entire creation is, in fact, the aathaar (impressions) of the Divine Attributes. However, the a rif’s gaze on created objects is not stationary on these things as is the gaze of the people in general. He perceives Allah’s attributes in every item of creation.
The one in the stage of Fanaa does not see anything since he has disappeared from all and everything, so much so, that he becomes oblivious of his own existence. On earth if a person is in love with someone, the beloved is constantly in his mind and heart. Inspite of others being in his presence, he remains detached from them and sometimes is not even aware of their presence.
When a man who has as yet not attained the stage of Fanaa loves Allah, then although he does consider the existence of other things too, he will not give preference to these things over Allah Ta’ala. He will accord priority to the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala and crush his own desires.
It is only extreme proximity which has screened. On account of His extreme manifestation has he become veiled, and by virtue of the splendour of His Noor has He become hidden from the eyes.
Here the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) states three reasons for Allah’s Thaat being incomprehensible to man’s understanding. First is the intensity of His qurb (proximity). It has already been explained earlier it is only Allah Ta’ala Who has Qurb-e-Haqeeqi (True Proximity) with creation. The nature of this proximity is such that Allah Ta’ala is closer to everything than even their own being. The full comprehension of an object is possible when proximity to and distance from an observer are at the correct degree. If an object is at a great distance, visibility is reduced and it becomes invisible when the distance is excessive. Similarly, an object placed against the eyes cannot be properly seen. The same rule applies to spiritual vision and comprehension (idraak).
Now since Allah Ta’ala is closer to the bandah than his own being, neither his physical faculty of vision nor his spiritual faculty of vision can comprehend Him. No one, therefore, can comprehend Him. Whatever is comprehended of Allah Ta’ala by His elite servants (the Auliya) is infinitesimal because Allah Ta’ala is extremely close to man.
Thus, extreme proximity constitutes a veil. This is one reason for man’s inability to comprehend Allah Ta’ala. Another reason is that Allah is more conspicuous than everything else. As a result of intense manifestation, He is beyond the comprehension of the physical and spiritual eyes. The gaze of man is unable to stare even at the sun by virtue of the intensity of its illumination although the sun is a lowly creature of Allah Ta’ala. What then can be imagined of the Noor of the Khaaliq? It is a limitless manifestation. The Mushaahadah, Qurb and Wusool which the Sufiyaa experience are simply the yaqeen of His Being and of their perception of closeness to Him. Total comprehension (idraak) of the Divine Thaat is an impossibility.
How is it conceivable for Allah Ta’ala, the Glorious and the Splendid, to be veiled from anything? His illumination is manifest in even the object which constitutes the veil. His existence and presence are conspicuous even in the object which is a veil.
An object cannot be comprehended or perceived on account of two reasons. One – Intensity of proximity and manifestation. This is confirmed for the Thaat of Allah Ta’ala. Two – Distance or to be far away. This does not apply to Allah Ta’ala. Here the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) states that it is not conceivable for Allah Ta’ala to be veiled by anything nor can He be at a distance from anything. Allah’s illumination is conspicuous even in an object which is regarded to be a hijaab (veil). He exists, is present and conspicuous, hence nothing can veil Him. Every object is a reflection of His beauty and splendour which are being mirrored.
The wasaawis (stray thoughts) are regarded by the Saalik to be a veil because of the paucity of his baseerat (spiritual insight). If his baseerat is correct, wasaawis will not perturb him nor appear as a veil. Even these stray thoughts are displays of His Qudrat (Power).
Lifting your sight to the endurance of things besides Allah and fearing others are proof that you have not reached Him.
When man desires that a thing remains with him forever, whether it be worldly wealth, property, or spiritual states, kashf and karaamaat, it indicates that he lacks the treasure of Wusool ilaallah (Union with Allah). If he had attained Wusool, his heart would not have hankered after the perpetuation of these things. Similarly, when man fears the loss or reduction of those objects, it is indicative of him lacking Wusool-Ilaallah.
If man acquires the true treasure (Divine Proximity), he will never be concerned by the loss of any other object, e.g. a man possesses a copper coin of insignificant value and a gold coin of considerable value. If he loses the copper coin, but has possession of the gold coin, he will not be perturbed. But, if a man becomes despondent at the loss of a copper coin of insignificant worth, it will be concluded that he does not have gold, hence his concern for the copper. Thus, the Saalik who lays claim to Divine Proximity should examine himself on this standard. If he does not hanker after the perpetuation of things nor does the loss of things affect him, then this state of his heart indicates attainment of proximity to Allah Ta’ala.
Although there are numerous manifestations of comfort and happiness, true and perfect happiness is with Divine Mushaahadah and Qurb, and although there are many manifestations of punishment, true punishment is to be veiled from Him.
Things from which the heart derives comfort and pleasure are in reality the medium for the manifestation of comfort and happiness. Similarly, the objects which cause hurt and grief to the heart, are the medium for the manifestation of punishement. Thus, there are numerous worldly objects of comfort and happiness, e.g. the wife, children, wealth, rank, etc. In the a khirah are Jannat and its wonderful things. However, true happiness will be only if Divine Perception accompanies the use of these object of pleasure.
If Mushaahadah of Allah Ta’ala does not accompany the use of these things, then although one will experience superficial happiness, in reality it will be a punishment even though this is not perceived at the time as a punishment. But soon will one realise the reality. Sometimes this punishment becomes manifest here on earth when these material possessions are lost or when one is no longer capable of utilising them. Grief then overwhelms a person. He sees no plan of escape from the punishment.
Assuming that he is not overtaken by this punishment during his lifetime, then at the time of death he will be forced to leave everything. At that critical juncture he will experience absolute regret and total punishment.
On the contrary, if Mushaahadah and Qurb of Allah Ta’ala accompany these pleasures and comforts, then even when man is separated from them he is still in possession of the true treasure of Wusool Ilaallah. This, comfort and happiness are perpetual for the Waasil (the Saalik who has attained Divine Proximity).
There are also numerous things of hardship and pain in this world and the Hereafter, e.g. sickness, poverty, starvation, etc., and the various forms of chastisement in the a khirah. True punishment will be when man who experiences these hardships is deprived of Divine Perception. When he is veiled and far from Allah, these difficulties will be absolute punishment. However, when involved in these difficulties, if man experiences the wealth of Mushaahadah and Wusool, then difficulties will not be hardships in reality, even though they have the external form of hardship because the basis of happiness and grief is the heart. The man in whose heart there exists the treasure of Mushaahadah and Wusool will never be prepared to exchange his hardships for the world full of comforts and pleasures if the price he has to pay is the loss of the spiritual treasure he possesses. Thus, true hardship and punishment are to be deprived of Allah’s Proximity, and true comfort and happiness are the wealth of Mushaahadah.
Hearts experience pain and grief because they are deprived of Mushaahadah.
All grief, pain and worry which people experience are due to only their deprivation of Allah’s Mushaahadah. If they possess the wealth of Mushaahadah, they would never experience grief and worry. Grief and worry are the consequences of the nafs being denied its aims. Therefore, a man who is perpetually in the presence of His Master, having become oblivious of the desires and aims of his nafs, will always be happy. The heart of the a rif is illumined with the noor of ma’rifat. The world and its pleasures have no worth in his heart, hence he is always in happiness whether he has material possessions or not. His heart is never grief-stricken.
This condition of spiritual happiness is not negatory of natural emotional feelings. It does not mean that the a rif will be without emotion even if near and close ones die or he, himself is overtaken by illness and physical pain. The happiness of the a rif is everlasting while that of the non- a rif is temporary. In reality, the superficial happiness of the non- a rif is grief and pain.
If shunning of you by people and their criticism hurt you, be contented with Allah’s awareness of your state. If you are not concerned with His awareness, then this discontent is worse for you than the hurt of the criticism of people.
The criticism and praise of people are neither harmful nor beneficial. Therefore, when the Saalik is pained by the criticism of people or when they shun him, he should be satisfied with Allah’s awareness of his condition. He should know that since Allah Ta’ala is aware of his sincerity and since Allah Ta’ala accepts his deeds, the criticism and opposition of people cannot harm him in any way whatever. On the other hand, if he is rejected by Allah Ta’ala, the praises and support of people will not avail him in any way. The Saalik should ingrain this conception in his heart. He will then suffer no grief.
If you, the Saalik, are not contented with this awareness of Allah Ta’ala, but you regard their attention, criticism and ignoring you as failure, hence you experience constant grief, then know that this pain is, in reality, not a hardship. The great calamity in fact, is the abominable stage of your heart, viz. your discontentment and lack of confidence in Allah’s Knowledge. You should reflect and endeavour to discover the cause of this deplorable state of your heart. Why are you affected by the praise and criticism of people? It does not behove the Saalik to be concerned and affected with the praise or criticism of people. By Allah Ta’ala, it will be of no benefit.
A man for whom the doors of knowledge and spiritual subtleties have not opened, remains imprisoned within the confines of his nafsaani desires and pleasures.
A man born on earth and becoming entrapped in ghaflat (negligence) is diverted from Allah Ta’ala. In consequence, he is deprived of spiritual knowledge and insight. Such a person dwells within the confines of his lowly desires. He is caught up in his nafsaani pleasures. He remains unaware of the spacious field of Tauhid. He wanders aimlessly in his own existence, in circles, never progressing beyond his starting point. All his efforts are for the sake of his nafs.
Opposed to this slave of the nafs, is the Saalik who has emerged from these lowly confines and is set in progress in the vast spans of Tauhid. He has attained freedom from the narrow limits of nafsaani desires and imaginary ideas. He has acquired a pure, holy and free life. He does not suffer grief as a result of worldly hardships and events. Changing conditions do not overwhelm him. In fact, he dominates. He is sustained by the attributes of Allah Ta’ala. His existence is not coupled to worldly objects. Although he may appear to be affected superficially by worldly circumstances, his heart is as firm as a mountain.
CHAPTER ON SOME STATES OF THE AARIFEEN
An Aarif is not one who finds Allah Ta’ala closer to himself in relation to his indication when he indicates towards spiritual mysteries. The true Aarif is he who is annihilated in the existence of Allah Ta’ala and absorbed in His Mushaahadah. Thus, he is oblivious of his indication (ishaarah).
Before expounding this topic, it is necessary to present a few facts. Firstly, the bandah who has attained the stage of Fanaa is like a dead body in the hands of a living person. The dead body has neither movement nor rest of its own. It is devoid of any attribute. It is moved about by the will of the living. Similar is the state of the nafs of one who has reached Fanaa. He is completely subservient to the Will of Allah since he does not discern any attribute in himself. He is even oblivious of his own existence. He dwells in only the perception that the One Being is the true enactor of all actions and attributes. The Hadith, “With Me he hears and With Me he sees”, adequately describes the state of the Saalik.
Secondly, when a man speaks about an object, three things are present in his mind. Comprehension of the object is related to these three things, viz. the speaker, the discussion, and the object of discussion. All three things are taken into account.
Thirdly is the extreme proximity which Allah Ta’ala has with His servant. It was earlier explained that Allah Ta’ala is closer to man than his ownself. When remembering something, the implication is that there is some distance between the thaakir (the one who remembers) and the mathkoor (the one who is remembered). In addition to distance, is also the presupposition of a difference between the thaakir and the mathkoor. If this was not the case, remembrance (thikr) would have been an impossibility, e.g. Zaid remembers something about himself. There surely must be some difference and distance between Zaid and the object of his remembrance, hence he remembers it.
Thus, when a man remembers Tauhid, it implies that his nafs has not yet been annihilated.
Fourthly, in the terminology of the Sufiyah, Ishaarah (Indication) means to remember (or discuss) the mysteries of Tauhid. At the time of giving a discourse on the mysteries of Tauhid which settle inspirationally in his heart, if the a rif finds Allah Ta’ala closer to himself than his ishaarah, then it is clear that he has not attained any rank in Fanaa. The a rif, when presenting the mysteries of Tauhid should not be like a lecturer who has three different entities in mind (i.e. the three things mentioned above) because the object of Thikr here is Allah Ta’ala Who is closer to the bandah than his own life. Thus, remembering (or speaking), in a way indicates difference and distance (between the Thaakir and Mathkoor). Therefore, if the a rif remembers Allah (or the mysteries of Tauhid) in the same way as other things are recalled, it confirms that he has not attained the stage of Fanaa.
The condition of the a rif should be one of absolute closeness to Allah Ta’ala. True annihilation (Fanaa) is only when there remains absolutely no duality in the a rif’s mind. There should be no difference and distance in his mind regarding his discourse of Tauhid and Allah Ta’ala (The Object of his discourse). Even if he experiences Allah Ta’ala closer to him than his ishaarah, he still has not attained complete Fanaa since he does perceive different entities in his state of proximity to Allah Ta’ala.
His state of Fanaa should be absolute absorption and annihilation in the mushaahadah of Allah Ta’ala. Inspite of his discourse on Tauhid he should remain unaware thereof. Although he speaks, he is being manipulated by Another Being. While he is a speaker ostensibly, he in reality speaks by another power. He is like a lifeless man in the power of a living being.
The noble and lofty motive underlying the Aarifeen’s uboodiyat to Allah Ta’ala is truth and complete fulfilment of the Rights of Allah Ta’ala.
Besides two things, the a rifeen do not supplicate to Allah Ta’ala for anything. Neither is their motive the bounties of the world nor the pleasures of Jannat. Their very first motive is truth in worshipping Allah Ta’ala. They desire truth in their attributes of uboodiyat. The following are the attributes of uboodiyat:
Shukr (gratitude) for bounties. Sabr (patience) in adversity. Hubb (love) and bugdh (hatred) should be for only Allah’s Sake. Annihilation of one’s schemes and plans and contentment with Divine Dispensation; Maintaining the heart’s gaze and attention constantly on Allah Ta’ala; The acquisition of humility; dependency on only Him; fearing Him.
Secondly, is their effort to fulfil the huqooq (rights) of Ruboobiyat (Godhood). Along with the physical body being in complete subservience in His worship, the spiritual body (the Rooh) should be perpetually engrossed in His remembrance.
Only these two desires are the motives of the a rifeen whereas other people follow their emotional desires. Some pursue the things of the world, some desire the damsels and mansions of Jannat, some desire waaridat (spiritual inspirations) and karaamaat (miracles), some wish for lofty spiritual stations and some pursue customary knowledge while turning away from the knowledge of reality.
The Aarif is he whose restlessness does not end and he finds no rest in anything besides Allah Ta’ala.
The arif is fully aware of his nafs and its attributes. The greater his insight and recognition of his nafs, the greater will be his ma’rifat of Allah Ta’ala. In this regard the Hadith says:
“Whoever has recognised his nafs, has recognised his Rabb.”
The arif thus, views his nafs as an embodiment of defect and evil since its aim at every moment is the pleasures of the world. The arif being fully aware of this corrupt state of the nafs, diverts his attention at all times to Allah Ta’ala. He remains restless and supplicates to Allah Ta’ala to aid him and save him from the evil of the nafs. This attitude becomes an inseparable quality of the arif.
Since the aim of the arif is to worship Allah Ta’ala, he cannot find rest in anything besides Allah. His heart cannot find rest in anything besides Allah. His heart finds support with only Allah Ta’ala.
The hearts of the zaahideen become constricted when they are praised because they perceive such praise to be related to creation. However, the Aarifeen become pleased when they are praised because they perceive that the praise is related to the Sovereign of the universe, Allah Ta’ala.
The veil of ghairullah is in the view of the spiritual insight of the Zaahid. He, therefore, flees from every worldly object which he regards to be a veil screening him from Allah Ta’ala. Thus, when someone praises the Zaahid, his heart is grieved because he deems the praise to be the act of the praiser, hence he fears being entrapped in corruption. It should be understood that this idea of the Zaahideen is valid because praise does corrupt a man.
However, since the gaze of the a rif is perpetually on only Allah Ta’ala, he sees everything with the gaze of Haqeeqat (reality and truth). He understands all actions as being the emanation of Allah’s Qudrat and His displays of marvel. Thus, when someone praises the arif, he understands the praise as an emanation of Allah. He, therefore, feels elated. In this state of elation he experiences further spiritual progress. Such praise does not affect the a rif adversely because his nafs has already been annihilated. The pleasures of the world no longer pose attractions for him. The danger of vanity and self-esteem does not exist in relation to the arif. His pleasure when being praised is purely for the sake of Allah Ta’ala. It is, therefore, not detrimental for him.
In view of the fact that such high-ranking arifeen devoid of all vestiges of the nafs in entirety, are extremely rare, the Hadith has in general declared praise to be a medium of fitnah (which corrupts the nafs). When a man praised someone in his presence, Rasulullah ( saws ) said:
“Woe upon you! You have cut the throat of your brother.”
CHAPTER ON FIRAASAT (INSIGHT) AND ISTIDLAAL
When you observe a man answering every question, revealing every spiritual experience and dilating every aspect of knowledge, then understand therefrom his ignorance.
A Sufi or Saalik who answers every question posed to him, never proclaiming his unawareness on any aspect, who reveals to every person his spiritual experiences and who narrates every detail of spiritual knowledge is, in fact, an ignoramus. Only a being whose knowledge encompasses everything has the ability of answering every question. But this attribute / ability belongs exclusively to Allah Ta’ala, the Knower of the visible and invisible. Man’s knowledge is infinitesimal.
It is also necessary for the a lim to take into account the intellectual capacity of the one who poses questions. He should answer only if he discerns ability of comprehension in the one who asks. If he discerns a lack of ability, he should refrain from answering.
When the Saalik reveals the spiritual mysteries and subtleties which he has acquired, he betrays his ignorance, because asraar (spiritual mysteries) and uloom (spiritual knowledge) are the amaanat (trust) of Allah Ta’ala. Revelation or exposure of this amaanat is abuse of trust (Khiyaanat). In addition, people will not understand these mysteries by explanation as these things are comprehended by only baatini perception. The attempt to explain these asraar will only render them more incomprehensible. Words cannot convey their meanings.
The revelation of certain spiritual knowledge is also detrimental and can lead to strife and mischief. Since the true meaning of such knowledge cannot be expressed, the audience will misconstrue the explanation. In such matters the silence of the Saalik is imperative.
To turn towards Allah Ta’ala in the initial stage of Sulook is the sign of success in the final stage of Sulook.
Just as there is a beginning and an end to every science / craft, so too is there a point of initiation in Sulook for the Saalik as well as a goal. The end or goal is known as Wusool and Mushaahadah. When the Saalik in the initial stage of Sulook reposes his total reliance on Allah Ta’ala in every affair, not depending on his own efforts, thikr, meditation, etc., it indicates that he will achieve success in the final stage of Sulook. His attainment of Divine Proximity will be true Wusool Ilallah. He will be accepted into Divine Acceptance.
If in the beginning the Saalik is deceived by his own efforts, believing that he will attain perfection thereby or he hankers after lofty spiritual stations, he will fail to reach the true goal even though he acquires knowledge of the ultimate goal by virtue of his association with a Shaikh. It is, therefore, imperative that the Saalik seeks Allah’s aid in everything. He should at no time consider his efforts of mujaahadah to be significant. His quest should be only Allah Ta’ala. He should not think of his effort as being of any significance or even an act of slight importance. This is a basic principle of Sulook.
If the initial stage of the Saalik’s Sulook is illumined with auraad, his final stage of Sulook will be brightened with anwaar and ma-aarif.
In the beginning the Saalik’s spiritual affairs are connected with deeds, auraad (stipulated acts of worship) and thikr. These acts are related to his physical body. In the final stage these affairs are transferred from the zaahir (physical body) to the baatin (spiritual body – the Rooh). In other words the heart becomes radiant with anwaar and ma-aarif. His spiritual activity is executed by the heart. The Saalik who spends his time constructively in the beginning, adorning his state with obedience and worship and refraining from futility, his final condition in Sulook will be most successful and fruitful. The sun of anwaar and ma-aarif will rise on him. On the other hand, the one who is indolent and lethargic in the beginning, refraining from steadfastness and regularly observing obedience and ibaadat, his end will be shaky and weak. The perfection of the final stage is dependent on the perfection of the initial stage.
The obtainal of the pleasure and sweetness of righteous deeds here on earth, is proof of one’s acceptance in the Aakhirah.
Although the reward and fruit of ibaadat are in reality obtainable in the a khirah, many servants of Allah acquire reward even here on earth. Such reward is in the form of the heart deriving pleasure and sweetness in acts of righteousness. This is proof of the acceptance of their deeds and the obtainal of thawaab in the a khirah. However, pleasure in ibaadat should not be understood to be the maqsood (goal). The pursuit of pleasure in ibaadat is negatory of ikhlaas (sincerity). Ibaadat should be rendered for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala irrespective of any pleasure or displeasure to the nafs.
The Saalik should render ibaadat in all states and circumstances. He should not feel that in the a khirah there is no reward for an act of ibaadat the sweetness and pleasure of which he does not experience here on earth. The worldly fruit of ibaadat is merely a sign of its acceptance. It is not the shart (condition) nor cause of acceptance. Often an act devoid of pleasure is more acceptable to Allah Ta’ala than an act from which pleasure and sweetness are acquired.
When you wish to discover your worth by Allah, then look at the occupation in which He has involved you.
The bandah who desires to know if Allah has accepted or rejected him and if he is fortunate or unfortunate, should ponder in his own condition. He should look at the activity in which Allah Ta’ala has applied him. If he is involved in noble acts which he executes for the sake of Allah’s pleasure, he should understand that he has been accepted by Allah Ta’ala. He is a man of fortune. If he is involved in disobedience and transgression, then conclude that he stands rejected by Allah Ta’ala. As such, he is most unfortunate.
Inspite of sorrow for lacking in obedience, if one makes no effort in the direction of obedience, it is a sign of being trapped in deception.
Some people grieve much because they lack in obedience and virtues. They even shed tears in profusion. Despite their grief, they do not initiate the process of ibaadat nor do they abstain from sins. Such sorrow is false and the deception of the nafs. True grief and honest regret constrain one to practise virtue and to shun evil.
When Allah Ta’ala keeps you steadfast in a condition and along with this you acquire the benefits (of the goodness rendered), it is a sign that it is Allah Who is sustaining your firmness in this condition.
When Allah Ta’ala grants a bandah firmness in whatever situation he finds himself in, be it a worldly occupation, e.g. trade, farming or employment, or a Deeni state, e.g. Ta’leem, renunciation of the worldly agencies, etc., and the fruits of this state are also experienced, then it is the sign of Allah’s pleasure for the state of the bandah – that Allah loves him to remain in this state, provided that his occupation does not interfere with any Deeni duties. Since Allah Ta’ala sees goodness for the bandah in this condition, He keeps him involved therein. The bandah should, therefore, neither wish to be extricated from his occupation nor should he attempt to withdraw therefrom. He should be grateful to Allah Ta’ala and remain in his occupation.
Diligence in acts of Nafl ibaadat accompanied by lethargy in the fulfilment of Waajib acts is a sign of subservience to the desires of the nafs.
Some people while exhibiting considerable enthusiasm for Nafl ibaadat, e.g. wazifas, optional fasting and Nafl Salaat, are lax in the performance of Waajib duties. They are, for example, lax in paying their debts and fulfilling the rights of others. They do not attach importance to Fardh Haj or they fail to pay Zakaat of the past years or they do not seek pardon from people whom they had molested. This attitude is a deception of the nafs. In such circumstances the enthusiasm for optional acts is subservience to base desires of the nafs. The nafs loves fame which is acquired by indulgence in Nafl worship.
Of what benefit will optional acts be when one is loaded with the liability of compulsory duties? Nafl ibaadat is like the profit in trade while Waajibaat and Faraa-idh are like the capital. Thus, the compulsory acts have priority over the optional acts.
The trust of anwaar and ma-aarif hidden in the hearts displays their effects on the external limbs of the body.
A sign of a man of spiritual accomplishment is that the blessings and impressions of the anwaar and ma-aarif hidden in heart become conspicuous on his face, hands and feet.