CHAPTER ON THE BOUNDLESS MERCY AND KINDNESS OF ALLAH ON HIS SERVANTS
Allah Ta’ala has established the Abode of the Aakhirah as the place of reward for the deeds of His servants for two reasons. One – The world cannot contain the rewards He desires to award to His servants. Two – By awarding the reward in the everlasting abode, the value is immensely enhanced.
Allah Ta’ala has fixed the Abode of the a khirah for rewarding the deeds of His Mu’min servants. He did not establish the world for this purpose. There are two reasons for this choice of Allah Ta’ala. Firstly, this world cannot contain the rewards which He desires for His servants. According to the Hadith, the extent of the Jannat which the lowest ranking Muslim will receive, will be a distance of seven hundred years. Another Hadith states that the Jannat of the Muslim entering into Jannat last, will be equal to ten times the size of the earth. This vastness is in regard to quantity and size.
Even in terms of quality, this world cannot contain the rewards of a Mu’min. The world is the place of pollutions while the rewards of the Hereafter are pure and holy. According to the Hadith, if a bangle of the Jannat’s Hoor (Damsel of Paradise) had to appear on earth, its glitter would overshadow the light of the sun and the moon.
Secondly, Allah Ta’ala has elevated the ranks of His Mu’min servants immensely. It, therefore, is not in accord with their lofty ranks to reward them in this perishable and transitory world, hence the Abode of the a khirah has been created for rewarding the Mu’mineen.
The Mu’min should not forget the a khirah by involvement in the bounties of this world. He should also not regard the worldly hardships as misfortunes because such pleasures are being prepared there for him, which did not even cross his mind.
Frequently you are given the adornments of the world and deprived of the sweetness of Ibaadat and Taa-at, and, frequently you are deprived of worldly pleasures and given the taufeeq of worship.
It often happens that on account of the worldly adornments, luxuries and pleasures which Allah Ta’ala grants you, you become involved so much in them that He deprives you of the taufeeq and sweetness of obedience. When the nafs is engaged in the pleasures of the world, it cannot experience the pleasure of Taa-at (obedience).
It also often happens that you are deprived of worldly pleasures and although you regard such deprivation as a misfortune, you are given in lieu the taufeeq and sweetness of worship. The bandah should, therefore, not focus his gaze on the superficial (worldly) bestowals and deprivations. He should understand the reality (haqeeqat) of everything and discharge the right of every occasion (i.e. of time – the Huqooq of Time being shukr, sabr, etc. as explained earlier in the chapter on Time).
When the door of your understanding has been opened up in your state of deprivation, then deprivation, in fact, is a bounty for you.
Perfect Aql (intelligence) and true comprehension, are bestowed to only the a rifeen. Others are deprived of this treasure. This treasure constitutes the fortune of this world and the a khirah. The Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) comments:
O Saalik! If inspite of Allah Ta’ala having withheld a worldly or Deeni favour (ni’mat) from you, your heart is devoid of regret and you have intelligently understood that your state of deprivation is the product of Divine Wisdom and Mercy, and you remain just as pleased with Allah as you would have been if the favour was bestowed to you, then your deprivation is, in fact, Allah’s bounty. It will then be incorrect to think of it as deprivation. This intelligence and your state of contentment are far superior than the ni’mat which was withheld from you.
When He bestows (Ni’mat), He displays His Generosity and Grace. When He withholds (His Bounties), He displays His Wrath and Power. Therefore, in every state He blesses you with His Ma’rifat and He turns towards you with His Grace and Kindness.
The purpose of man’s creation is that he acquires the Ma’rifat of his Creator’s Thaat and Lofty Sifaat, hence He says:
“I have not created jinn and man except that they worship Me.”
The Hadith clarifies that the acquisition of His Ma’rifat is not possible without His Bestowal. (Ma’rifat is the product of Allah’s fadhl and rahmat, not the consequence of man’s effort – Translator.) The way of gaining Ma’rifat is to contemplate on the predestined circumstances and conditions which overtake him. In this way does the bandah gain insight of his Maula (Master). The Divine Ma’rifat then reaches the bandah according to his circumstances. He who possesses proper intelligence will, therefore, gain Ma’rifat from Allah Ta’ala in every condition. The Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) expounding this concept implies:
O Saalik! When Allah Ta’ala bestows some bounty to you, He is in reality displaying His generosity and kindness to you, and when He withholds His Ni’mat from you, involving you in difficulties and hardships, then he displays to you His attribute of Anger and Power. The Saalik who derives lesson from every state is most fortunate. He derives the Ma’rifat of his Maula every moment. His heart brims with delight on account of the treasure of Ma’rifat.
Ma’rifat is the most superior Ni’mat because Allah Ta’ala focuses His Attention of greater munificence to you every moment.
The bandah shorn of intelligence, directs his attention to the Ni’mat bestowed to him, while he is unmindful (ghaafil) of Allah Ta’ala. He regards himself deserving of the Ni’mat. He thus develops pride. During conditions of adversity, he suffers, hence he complains and proves his ingratitude. Nauthubillah!
The only reason for your annoyance when bounties are withheld, is your lack of intelligence to understand the wisdom and grace of Allah Ta’ala.
O Saalik! The grief and annoyance of your heart when Allah Ta’ala afflicts you with difficulties and hardships are the products of your lack of intelligence. On account of your ignorance, you are unable to fathom the Divine Mercy, Wisdom and Grace underlying your adverse circumstances.
If you had not been ignorant, your state of adversity would have been just as pleasurable to you as your state of prosperity. In fact, your pleasure will be greater at the time of deprivation because poverty and hardship are the share (of Bounties) reserved for the special servants (Auliya) of Allah Ta’ala.
Even the bestowal of people is deprivation for you, while even Allah’s withholding is a favour (ihsaan) for you.
O Saalik! Superficially the bestowal of people appears to be beneficial for you because you have received something without effort. In reality, this obtainal is deprivation because your attention will be on the people (who make gifts to you). Your distance from Allah Ta’ala is proportionate to your gaze (of desire and hope) on people. Your trust on Allah will decrease.
On the other hand, if Allah Ta’ala keeps you in poverty and hardship, then although ostensibly it appears as deprivation, in reality it is His Ihsaan (Favour) on you. In this case the true and original wealth (Ma’rifat) will increase. Your gaze will then not shift from your Maula. Your humility and dependency on Him will increase. These are designed objectives.
When your condition is such that your heart expands with delight on account of a gift bestowed, and your heart becomes constricted (with annoyance and disappointment) when a gift is withheld, then understand that you are not recognised as among the Ahlullah (Men of Allah) and that you are not genuine in your Uboodiyat.
O Saalik! If your condition is such that you worship and remember Allah with concentration and relish when He showers favours on you, but when these favours are withheld you become disappointed and despondent in Ibaadat, then know that in the Divine Court you are not regarded to be among the Ahlullah (Saints). You have simply slinked into the Divine Court without permission just as an uninvited guest slinks into the home of the host in the company of the invited guests. Thus, by this conduct he pretends to be an invited guest.
O Saalik! Your condition is precisely like that of the uninvited guest. You are only claiming to be among the People of Allah, but your claim is false. If you were truly among the People of Allah, this would not have been your condition. Your attitude indicates that you are not true in your Uboodiyat and Bandagi (worship). Your state conveys that the quest for nafsaani pleasures yet lurks in you. You are still inclined to the acquisition of your own goal and hope. This attitude is negatory of the state of Uboodiyat and indicates slavery to the nafs.
However, if the heart’s constriction is on account of fear for a trial imposed by Allah Ta’ala – the trial being a manifestation of the Wrath of Allah Ta’ala – and the uncertainty of maintaining Sabr and Istiqaamat during the trial, then it will not indicate falsity of one’s Uboodiyat. Such constriction of the heart and fear are natural human reactions. The attributes of humanity (bashriyat) remain in the a rif.
Frequently Allah Ta’ala opens up the door of Taa-at for you, but does not open the door of Qubooliyat (acceptance). And, frequently He imposes a medium for reaching His Lofty Court.
Many times Allah Ta’ala opens up the door of His obedience, i.e. He bestows the taufeeq of Ibaadat and Taa-at (obedience), hence you are able to engross yourself night and day in acts of obedience, Nafl Ibaadat, contemplation, devotional exercises (ashghaal), Tilaawat, etc. But, because of the lack of the noor of Ikhlaas or because of vanity (self-esteem) or because of despising other Muslims or because you began considering yourself pious, the door of Qubooliyat is not opened. Thus, your deeds remain unaccepted.
Frequently, Allah Ta’ala imposes a sin on the worshipper. Although ostensibly the sin committed is a cause for Divine Rejection, but on account of the exceptionally high degree of remorse, regret and repentance the sinner attains Divine Proximity. Thus, the sin becomes the medium of Maghfirat.
Therefore, the bandah should not look at the external form (zaahiri) of everything. His gaze should be focused on the inner realities (Haqeeqat) of things. If Allah Ta’ala has blessed you with the taufeeq of Ibaadat and Taa-at, do not despise those who are not involved in acts of piety nor consider yourself superior. On the other hand, if a sin has been committed, do not despair of Allah’s mercy by viewing the enormity of the external form of the sin.
Two Ni’mats (Bounties) of Allah Ta’ala are so vast that nothing is beyond their confines. Both these bounties are necessary for every existing object. The first ni’mat is the act of creating and the second ni’mat is the act of sustaining – i.e. the aid of sustenance reaching continuously.
The favours of Allah Ta’ala limitlessly descend on every creature. Even limitless special favours are on every created object. However, there are two bounties which are common to everything. These two Ni’mats are the necessary requisites of every existing object. The first is the act of creation. Everything was non-existent prior to its existence. By the fadhl of Allah Ta’ala the gift of existence was bestowed. He thus created the object and eliminated non-existence from the created object.
Secondly, after coming into existence by way of creation everything is wholly dependent on the aid of Allah Ta’ala for its endurance and sustenance. For this need it is dependent on Allah Ta’ala every second of its existence. Should Allah Ta’ala withhold His aid, everything will again return to the state of non-existence. He has created different ways and means for the existence of different objects, e.g. for animals He has created water, food, etc.
Firstly, Allah Ta’ala blessed you with the Ni’mat of existence. Secondly, every moment He ensures your existence by delivering to you both zaahiri and baatini bounties in a continuous uninterrupted flow.
In the earlier statement, mention was made of the bounties of creation and assistance common to all created objects. Now, in the present statement, the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) addresses Insaan (man) in particular, in fact, the address is directed to the Mu’min. The Mu’min’s attention is drawn to his earlier state of pure non-existence. Allah Ta’ala then conferred on him (you, O Mu’min!) His Ni’mat of existence. Thus, for his existence, the Mu’min should understand that he is wholly dependent on Allah Ta’ala. Dependence is, therefore, man’s natural and inherent attribute which he should never forget.
Secondly, every breath and moment Allah Ta’ala ensures that man receives His favours necessary for his (man’s) physical and spiritual existence. Food, garments and a variety of preparations have been and are being continuously created for man’s physical existence and survival. For man’s spiritual existence, Allah Ta’ala constantly sends His aid in an uninterrupted flow. Without the spiritual aid of Allah (viz. the taufeeq and hidaayat He inspires into the Mu’min), the Mu’min will go astray. Thus, it has been observed that when Allah Ta’ala terminates His aid from certain people, they fall headlong into deviation (dhalaal).
Since it is not possible for you to be independent from your Rabb for even a second nor do you own anything which you can claim to be your own property, then despite this complete dependency on Allah Ta’ala, why do you portray independence? Why this self-esteem? Why this claim of excellence? How can these claims be correct? You should become a slave, keeping mind your origin and refrain from making boastful claims.
When He has disillusioned you from others and made you forlorn then understand that He desires to open the door of His love and affection on you.
O Saalik! If your heart cannot find solace with anyone except in the remembrance of Allah and you are terrified of people, then understand this state to indicate Allah’s desire of love and affection for you and that He will keep you aloof from all things besides Him. On the other hand, if your heart derives comfort from people and you become bored and terrified of solitude and Thikr, then understand that this condition is a great loss and misfortune for you.
When He desires to display His favour and kindness to you, He will create in you A’maal-e-Saalihah and the praise will be attributed to you.
When Allah Ta’ala wishes to manifest His kindness and favour to a bandah, He creates deeds and lofty attributes. On the occasions of praise, He relates these good deeds and attributes to the bandah.
In reality, the bandah’s action and choice have no role in his righteous deeds since Allah Ta’ala creates these deeds in him. Although Allah Ta’ala is the creator of these pious deeds, He relates the deeds to the bandah who is praised by people with titles such as Muttaqi, Muhsin, etc. Thus, if the bandah is intelligent, he will not become vain and proud when he is blessed with the fadhl of Allah Ta’ala. On the contrary, he should be bashful and refrain from attributing any virtuous attribute to himself. However, evil and defects should be attributed to himself. All beautiful attributes should be related to Allah Ta’ala.
Whoever respects and honours you, has in reality neither respected nor honoured you, but he has respected and honoured the act of Divine Concealment (i.e. Allah’s act of concealing your defects).
O Saalik! When someone respects and honours you with praise or gifts, do not become proud. Do not gain the impression that you have in you some excellence. In reality, the person has not praised you. He has praised Allah’s attribute of Sattaariyat (Concealing the sins and defects of people). If Allah Ta’ala had not concealed your nafsaani evils, people would not even spit on you. All would have detested you because your nafs is an embodiment of mischief and evil. Therefore, do not praise and flatter the one who praises you or one who treats you with respect, honour and kindness. That Being who has concealed your faults is deserving of praise.
The one who praises and honours you is not deserving of respect and praises. On such occasions you are liable to commit two errors. The first error is that your gaze will be on the one who praises you and you will regard him as your benefactor whereas the true benefactor is Allah Ta’ala. It is He who has concealed your evil. As a result of the respect and honour of people, do not feel that you are possessing any virtuous attributes. Any such attitude will be a grave error.
However, there is nothing wrong in expressing gratitude to the one who is kind and shows respect to you, for it is Allah Ta’ala who bestowed the goodness to you via the agency of that person (who has honoured you). But, the gaze should be on only Allah Ta’ala.
If it was not for His concealment, not a single deed would be deserving of Divine Acceptance.
Only a deed entirely devoid of any nafsaani contamination deserves to be accepted. Regardless of the degree of adornment and purification of the nafs, there will remain to some extent ego in the nafs even though this may not be discernible. The nafs by nature is an embodiment of evil. It is, therefore, simply Allah’s grace and kindness that He overlooks and conceals the evil and sins of the bandah. He shows great forbearance by withholding His punishment from the sinful bandah. Above all, He accepts the bandah’s defective deeds. In reality, no one’s deeds deserve acceptance in His Lofty Court.
Therefore, O Saalik! Do not be overwhelmed by excessive grief on account of the deficiencies in your acts of virtue. In fact, when Allah Ta’ala accepts, He accepts our defective deeds and awards rewards for the very defective acts offered by His servants.
Prior to making you bear testmony of His Uniqueness in this Aalam-e-Zaahir (the physical world), He had caused you to perceive His unity in Aalam-e-Ghaib (the unseen realm of the souls). Hence, the physical body become imbued with His Uloohiyat (Godhood) and the heart and spiritual faculties (the Saraa-ir) with the Yaqeen of His Uniqueness.
O Saalik! Do not think that there is no prior origin and cause for the testimony which you bear for His Unity here on earth and for the Ibaadat you are performing. Long before Allah Ta’ala demanded that you testify to His Unity, He had revealed and shown you His Unity in a lam-e-Arwaah (The Realm of the Souls). After your appearance on earth, your rooh (soul) fettered to the material form, activated the physical body with His Uloohiyat (Godhood) and Ma’boodiyat (i.e. Him being the object of worship) on account of the spiritual perception it had experienced in a lam-e-Arwaah. Thus, the tongue proclaims His Unity and Godhood while the other physical limbs by their obedience imply that Allah Ta’ala is the true Being to be worshipped and obeyed. Therefore, the limbs go into Sajdah and Ruku’ while the heart and the other spiritual faculties (Saraa-ir) have the Yaqeen of His Uniqueness. If it was not for that prior revelation in the Realm of the Souls, then in this physical world neither would the physical body have testified to His Unity nor would the heart and the Saraa-ir have developed Yaqeen.
The similitude for the aforementioned reality is like that of a city which you had seen and forgotten. On being reminded of this city, you recall it and your heart has firm conviction (Yaqeen) of its existence and description. However, if you had never seen the city, Yaqeen will not develop regardless of the efforts of a person to explain to you. Yaqeen is not possible when the form of a thing is not in one’s subconscious mind (or already embedded in the imagination).
In the absence of Roohaani Mushaahadah (the perception or seeing of the souls), Yaqeen which is like Mushaahadah, would not have been possible on the basis of only rational proofs of the Haqq. Yaqeen-e-Kaamil (Perfect Yaqeen) is not based on dalaa-il (rational proofs). Yaqeen is like a lost item which is immediately recognised on sight. Similarly, perfect conviction (Yaqeen-e-Kaamil) of Tauhid, Risaalat and all things of the a khirah existing in the heart of a Kaamil Mu’min has no relationship with rational proofs. He recognises all these realities just as one would recognise one’s lost item which has been found. Thus, this yaqeen is the consequence of the Roohaani Mushaahadah. The Rooh was shown all Haqaa-iq (Realities).
When the Rooh was later imprisoned in this material body, it forgot these Haqaa-iq which were revealed to it, on account of the influences of the physical body. The Ambiya, Qur’aan and Hadith, therefore, remind man of this reality. If the fadhl of Allah Ta’ala is directed to the bandah, the material veils of the physical body are lifted and the Rooh then resumes its original Mushaahadah. The physical body is subservient to the Rooh, hence it becomes fully involved in obedience.
وذلِكَ فضل الله يُؤ تِيه م نْ يشاء
“That is the fadhl of Allah which He gives it to whomever He wishes.”
Occasionally, He reveals to you some of His hidden royal secrets and He prevents you from being informed of the secret of the hearts of His servants because when a person who is not imbued with Divine Mercy learns of the secrets of people, then this awareness becomes a fitnah (trial) for him and a medium of misfortune.
O Saalik! Sometimes Allah Ta’ala reveals to you by way of Kashf and Ilhaam (forms of revelation) some of the hidden mysteries of the heaven and earth, e.g. future events or information of distant places, etc. However, He does not make you aware of the secrets in the hearts of His servants. It is not appropriate for you to desire such information (of the hearts of people) because this awareness is withheld for your own benefit.
The knowledge of the secrets in the hearts of men is awarded to only such a person who has become a perfect manifestation of Allah’s attribute of mercy. Allah’s attribute of Rahmat is all-embracing. Despite His knowledge of the condition of men’s heart, He conceals their evil by virtue of His attribute of mercy and overlooks the errors and sins of ignoramuses. He does not hastily apprehend the perpetrators of evil. He conceals the faults of all people. A man who has imbued in himself such an attribute of mercy is sometimes made aware of the secrets of men’s heart. But, one who lacks in this attribute will be cast into trial by the revelation of such secrets of the heart because his concern with his nafs will produce pride in him. Everyone is not morally reformed. Good and evil thoughts enter into the heart. Should such inner thoughts be revealed to one lacking in the attribute of perfect mercy, he will despise other Muslims while believing himself to be holy. Thus, this will be a fitnah constituting an avenue of misfortune for him.
Pride or to consider oneself to be great, is a great misfortune for man. Greatness is an attribute which belongs exclusively to Allah Ta’ala. The man who lays claim to greatness will have his neck broken (by Allah Ta’ala). Hence, it is best and in the interests of the bandah that he is not informed of the secrets of men’s hearts. However, such revelation will not be a fitnah for a man who has inculcated mercy in his nature. Even if he is informed (by way of Kashf or Ilhaam) of the secrets of the hearts, he will view the people with affection and mercy.
When He saw the attention of His servants directed to His special grace and to the manifestation of the mysteries of His special Attention, then He proclaimed: “Allah chooses His Rahmat for whomever He desires”. Thus, He severed the vein of desire. When He saw that if He left them (His servants) to believe that the secret of His grace is, in fact, His choice (of bestowing mercy on whomever He wishes), then trusting on the eternal decree of Taqdir, they would have abandoned the practice of righteous deeds, He said:
“The mercy of Allah is near to those who practise righteousness”.
The Rahmat (Mercy) of Allah Ta’ala is of two kinds: Rahmat-e- a mmah and Rahmat-e-Khaas-sah.
Rahmat-e- a mmah or Universal Mercy is for the entire creation. By virtue of this general mercy He bestowed existence to everyone and everything, as well as sustaining them until an appointed time. This mercy is not restricted to any particular being, but extends to all things. Thus, Allah Ta’ala says: “My mercy embraces all things.” This is the Rahmat of creation and sustenance.
Rahmat-e-Khaas-sah or the Special Mercy is His Proximity, Grace and Attention. This mercy is not general. Its basis is Divine Will. He bestows this special mercy to whomever He wills without any intermediate cause. By directing His special mercy to a person, He bestows His Proximity (Qurb) to him. The Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) refers to this special mercy.
In His eternal knowledge, Allah Ta’ala was aware that people are desirous of the special mercy of Allah Ta’ala. They desire that the mysteries and secrets of the special mercy of Allah Ta’ala be revealed to them so that they attain His Qurb (closeness). Motivated by this quest they practise righteous deeds and supplicate for the realisation of this aim. They feel that on account of their virtuous deeds they have become deserving of Allah’s special mercy. Dismissing this baseless idea, Allah Ta’ala says (in the Qur’aan):
“He chooses His (special) Rahmat for whomever He wills.”
In other words, the quest and righteous deeds of people are not the basis for the acquisition of His Rahmat-e-Khaas-sah. The basis for it is Allah’s Will.
Although righteous deeds, supplication and effort are not the cause for the acquisition of Allah’s special mercy, they are undoubtedly signs of this special eternal bounty. When by that fadhl of Allah Ta’ala the bandah practises righteousness, it indicates that He has directed His Attention to that bandah. The bandah should understand that these A’maal-e-Saalihah will ultimately deliver him to Allah’s special mercy.
If, however, the bandah was not exhorted to practise virtue, but was left with only the belief that Allah Ta’ala grants His special mercy to whomever He wills, then the bandah would have simply placed his reliance on Taqdir, thus refraining from righteous deeds. Hence, Allah Ta’ala says (in the Qur’aan):
“Verily, the Rahmat of Allah is near to those who do good.”
It is, therefore, improper to abandon righteousness. Along with righteousness, hope should be on the Will of Allah Ta’ala, not on one’s deeds.
Should one repose hope on one’s deeds, it will be tantamount to reliance on one’s nafs.
During Azal (Eternity – when man was non-existent) His special mercy was directed to you without there having emanated from you any act which demands such special mercy. Where were you when His special mercy was directed to you? In Azal your attributes and actions did not exist. Nothing besides His Pure Fadhl and magnanimous forgiveness existed.
This statement is stated as proof for the earlier averment. O Saalik! Your understanding that your righteous deeds, spiritual states and effort bring about the special mercy and proximity of Allah, is due to deficiency in your thinking. What deed did you render in Azal which brought the focus of Allah’s bounty to you? The decree of Inaayat (His Special Mercy) was applied to you in Azal when you and your deeds were non-existent. It was nothing but His Fadhl, hence you should not consider your deeds as the cause for His Fadhl. Remove your gaze from your efforts and focus it on the mercy of Allah Ta’ala.
Neither do your acts of obedience benefit Him nor do your sins harm Him. You have been instructed to practise righteousness and to abstain from evil only because its benefit accrue to you.
O Bandah! Your obedience does not benefit Allah Ta’ala in any way whatever because He is absolutely independent of all things. Your disobedience cannot harm Him in any way because He is Mighty, Powerful and Wrathful.
You have been commanded to practise righteousness and to abstain from transgression so that you acquire the benefit in this world and the Hereafter. He says in the Qur’aan:
“Whoever practises righteousness, it is for himself and whoever sins, it is on himself.”
The demand therefore is, that you do good, refrain from evil and never ever think that you have accomplished something wonderful. The idea of accomplishment would be proper if the actions rendered by you benefit another person. If you refrain from righteousness you are simply depriving yourself of benefits. You are not bestowing any favour on anyone.
Neither does the attention of any person increase Allah’s infinite glory, splendour and greatness nor does the unmindfulness of anyone decrease His infinite glory, splendour and greatness.
It is a characteristic of the nafs to liken others to itself. To a degree this will be appropriate in regard to human beings since all are of the same species. However, man, on account of his ignorance and stupidity sometimes thinks of Allah Ta’ala as he thinks of himself in some affairs. Some ignoramuses believe that by their attention towards Allah, they have elevated and adorned the Deen or some persons who had previously aided the Deen by acts of virtue, labour under the impression that if they abstain from Deeni service or they die, the Deen of Allah will suffer a setback. These notions are refuted by the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh).
The only reason for Allah Ta’ala allowing people to hurt you, is that your heart does not find solace with them. By means of the hurt caused to you, He sets you free from people so that nothing makes you neglectful of your True Master.
O Saalik! If you suffer any hurt or harm at the hands of people, whether to your body, wealth or reputation, do not become despondent and disillusioned. There is much wisdom underlying their attitude. In reality this discomfort has come to you from Allah Ta’ala. If instead of the hurt you are favoured and comforted by people, you will then find solace with them and repose your trust on them instead of on Allah Ta’ala.
Allah Ta’ala desires that your heart be completely disillusioned with people, hence He causes creation to hurt you. In consequence you will free yourself from all others. When an intelligent person experiences ingratitude and fickleness in one or two of his associates, he realises that others too are similar. He will, therefore, free his heart from all association. This in reality is a great mercy of Allah Ta’ala for him in that nothing will make this bandah neglectful of his true Master. He (the bandah) observes that everything is transitory, hence he will not derive pleasure in anything besides Allah Ta’ala.
Allah has made shaitaan your enemy so that you are constrained to turn to Him (Allah Ta’ala) and He induced you to pursue the desires of your nafs so that you direct your attention to Him permanently.
Allah Ta’ala after appointing shaitaan your enemy, informed you thereof. Thus, the Qur’aan says:
“Verily, Shaitaan is for you an open enemy.”
By virtue of Allah’s information and your own experience, you will realise without any doubt that Shaitaan is your enemy in addition to your nafs. While your nafs is your enemy from within, Shaitaan is an outside enemy. You will realise that he is the enemy of both your worldly and Deeni welfare. At the same time you will know that on account of your weakness and the invisibility of your enemy, his plots to destroy you will be highly dangerous. Furthermore, you will not find any friend on earth to aid you against your enemy. When this knowledge becomes the condition of your heart, you will readily turn in supplication to Allah Ta’ala. You will be anxiously turning your attention to Him. This attitude is most desirable. This laudable attitude will, in fact, be the consequence of shaitaan’s animosity for you.
Similarly, Allah Ta’ala has induced your nafs to pursue desires. The nafs is everlastingly demanding satiation of its pleasures. Sometimes the nafs seeks expression of its desire for the commission of sin and sometimes it desires the beauties and luxuries of the world, but the Saalik becomes perturbed by these demands because the domination of these desires prevents him from his actual goal (viz. Divine Proximity).
Thus, the wisdom and mercy of Allah Ta’ala for the bandah in this is that he will struggle against his nafs. Since the bandah cannot overcome the nafs by himself, he has no option but to supplicate to Allah Ta’ala for aid. His attention will, therefore, be fixed permanently on Allah Ta’ala. Thus, he will ever be alert against this enemy. However, it should be understood that the state of being permanently alert against the enemy will be acquired only when the knowledge of the nafs’s malice becomes one’s attitude and disposition. Mere knowledge is not sufficient.
When you know that shaitaan is not neglectful of you, then you too should not be forgetful of your true Maula in whose possession is your life.
O Mu’min and O Saalik! You are aware that Allah Ta’ala has informed you that shaitaan is perpetually scheming to deviate and destroy you. Allah Ta’ala mentions shaitaan’s vow. The Qur’aan says:
“I shall most certainly come to them from infront of them, from behind, on their right sides and on their left sides.”
He vowed to attack the servants of Allah from every side to mislead them. Your plan to thwart shaitaan should be your alertness. You should not be neglectful of your Master in Whose power is your life. Supplicate to Him. Only He can save you from your enemy.
Allah Ta’ala created you between the physical world (Aalam-e-Shahaadat) and the spiritual world (Aalam-e-Ghaib) so that your lofty rank be made conspicuous in His creation and so that your uniqueness and superiority over entire creation be demonstrated.
O Insaan! Allah Ta’ala has created you of two entities – physical and spiritual. You are neither totally a physical being nor a totally spiritual being as the Angels. You are a creation in a state between these two entities. Your intermediate status (between the physical and spiritual) is evident.
Allah Ta’ala created man between the heaven and earth. All things on earth have been created for man’s use and benefit, and all things have been made subservient to him.
If man was a completely physical creation of this world, he would have been like all other physical and worldly creatures. He would then not have enjoyed superiority over them. Thus, it is clear that the essential substance of his constitution is something other than his physical matter. By virtue of his special spiritual essence, man enjoys superiority over all other creation. That special substance is his relationship with the spiritual realm ( a lam-e-Ghaib).
Allah Ta’ala has created man a microcosm. He is an embodiment of all existing creation consisting of lofty and lowly attributes, and of physical and spiritual substances. He is thus physical and spiritual at the same time. He is earthly as well as heavenly. He possesses the angelic qualities of intelligence, ma’rifat and ibaadat. He has the capability of misleading others and being misled himself. He has the attributes of rebellion and transgression. These are the animal and satanic attributes within him. In his state of anger he is a lion and when lust dominates him, he is a pig. In the state of greed and adversity he is a dog. When he deceives, he is a fox. His growth and development are like that of the trees. Like the heavens, he is a substance (mahl) for mysteries and celestial light (noor). Like the ground, he is both hard and soft.
His heart is the abode of Divine Radiance (Tajalli of Allah), hence he resembles the Arsh of Allah Ta’ala. He contains within him the treasures of knowledge. He is, therefore, like Looh-e-Ma’hfooz (The Angelic Library in the heaven). When his moral character is reformed, he is Jannat and when his evil attributes predominate, he is Jahannum.
In short, man incorporates within him samples of every creation. It is for this reason that he is described as a lam-e-Asghar (microcosm or little world) and Mazhar-e-Atam (perfect substratum of the manifestation of entire creation).
The aim underlying man’s all-embracing constitution is for him to realise his significance and superiority over all creation. He will realise from his very constitution that man is a priceless pearl which embraces all aspects of entire creation. When he has recognised this reality, he will not destroy himself by involvement in disobedience to his Master and Creator. He will maintain himself on the lofty and magnificent plane on which Allah Ta’ala has created him. The sole method for this is perpetual obedience to his Creator and abstention from transgression
CHAPTER ON SUHBAT (COMPANIONSHIP)
Do not acquire the companionship of a person whose state does not exhort you towards Allah Ta’ala nor does his speech guide you to Allah Ta’ala.
There is nothing more beneficial for the Saalik than pious Suhbat. Whoever had gained any treasure (moral and spiritual), acquired it by virtue of Suhbat, hence the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) states the principle in this regard so that the Saalik understands the companionship which will be beneficial and harmful for him.
Never choose the company of a man who does not encourage and induce you towards Allah Ta’ala. The haal (state) of the companion (i.e. the Shaikh – spiritual guide) should be such that his entire attention is focused on Allah Ta’ala. The gaze of his heart should be diverted from creation. In every affair his complete reliance should be on Allah Ta’ala. In his lofty estimate creation should have no significance and no rank. Obedience to the Shariah in all affairs should have become his natural disposition. His speech should guide towards the Path of Allah, i.e. his speech should produce the effect of magnetically drawing the Searcher towards Allah Ta’ala. Such a person is qualified for companionship.
A man who lacks the aforementioned qualities is of no benefit. In fact, his suhbat is harmful even if overtly he has the appearance of a saint. Since his heart’s relationship is with alien objects (i.e. things besides Allah Ta’ala), his companionship is bound to exercise its influence. Those in his association will be similarly affected with his detrimental influences.
Sometimes you perpetrate evil. But, should you acquire the suhbat of someone worse than you, you will be led to believe that you are pious.
It is incumbent on the Mu’min to acquire the companionship of a person better than himself. In the Suhbat of a better man, you will see your own faults and you will become concerned with your moral and spiritual reformation. On the other hand, if you sit in the company of a man worse than yourself, its necessary consequence will be that despite your evil you will regard yourself to be pious. You will most certainly gain the impression that you are better than him. Thus, your own deficiencies will not become discernible. You will be overtaken by vanity (ujub) and be pleased with yourself.
In reality your true companion is the person who remains with you even after being apprized of your faults. Besides your Maula-e-Kareem (Gracious Master) no one else is such a companion.
The friendship of worldly people is generally fickle. When they discover one’s faults, they sever relationship. They develop a dislike for the former friend. But, the Creator maintains His relationship with His servants inspite of being aware of their innumerable deficiencies. Only He is the true Companion, for He is firm in His Friendship even while having the knowledge of the faults of His servants. The Ahlullah (Auliya) who have cultivated in themselves Divine Attributes also maintain their relationship with a person even after discovering their defects. They will conceal even the greatest sin which they see in their associates. They do not sever their relationship.
Thus, a man should establish his relationship with His Master or with those who are linked to His Master (i.e. the Auliya).
Your best friend is he who desires goodness for you without the motive of self-interest.
Your best friend is a person who strives for your welfare without having any motive of self-gain for himself. This is the disposition of Allah Ta’ala and of the Ahlullah who desire good for even enemies. They do not cherish any hope for personal gain because their hearts have been completely purified of nafsaani motives. Therefore, their relationship with people is purely for the sake of Allah Ta’ala. It is essential, therefore, to establish a bond with the Ahlullah and to abandon all other friendships which are based on lowly motives.
CHAPTER ON TAMA’ (DESIRE)
The branches of disgrace spread out from nothing but the seed of tama’ (desire).
The branches of the tree of disgrace grow and spread from the seed of greed and desire which has taken root in the heart. Disgrace is always the consequence of greed and desire. When man’s heart desires wealth and fame, then for its acquisition he will certainly establish a relationship with people and direct his appeals to them. The acquisition of wealth or fame is not possible without collusion with others. His desire constrains him to flatter and beg others. This is a great disgrace. Tama’ is thus the root of all evil.
True respect lies in man’s heart being devoid of any relationship with anyone besides Allah. He remains independent from all. This treasure of true respect is acquired by the elimination of greed and the cultivation of the attribute of qanaa-at (contentment).
No evil has imprisoned you so much as suspicion.
This assertion is the proof for the earlier statement. Nothing is as effective as suspicion for imprisoning man in greed and desire. As a result of suspicion, man becomes ensnared in the net of desire. You imagine or suspect that a certain man will be a benefit to you. You, therefore, turn your gaze of desire to him expecting benefit from him. Or you imagine a particular trade, profession or occupation will be beneficial for you. Greed then induces you to become involved in that pursuit.
All the chains of relationship which are fettering man’s legs are the products of man’s imagination or suspicion. It is only Divine Power or the attention of the Ahlullah which can free man from these chains.
The nafs inclines greatly to imagination and remains very far from Haqaa-iq (Realities). As long as the nafs has not been purified, the elimination of this disease is difficult.
You are free from something in which you have lost hope and you are the slave of the object of your desire.
When desire and greed for an object arise in the heart, a strong relationship develops with it. The heart becomes enslaved to it. This enslavement brings in its wake a variety of difficulties. In the bid for its acquisition, man bears the indignity of many a disgrace.
If the heart despairs of all things, it attains freedom from them and achieves perpetual peace and comfort. It, therefore, does not behove a Muslim to disgrace himself in the pursuit of the lowly things of the world and to forget the akhirah.
CHAPTER ON TAWAADHU’ (HUMILITY)
Whoever asserts tawaadhu’ (humility) for himself, is undoubtedly a man of pride because when a claim of humility is made, it is made after the perception of one’s (supposed) lofty rank. This implies that one believes in one’s personal elevation, hence one is a mutakabbir (proud person).
Believing oneself to be the most contemptible and lowest being is known as tawaadhu’ (humility). The consideration of greatness in oneself is takaabur (pride).
The knowledge of a thing is gained from its opposite. In the absence of the opposite, the knowledge of a thing would not be possible. The knowledge of light is by virtue of darkness. If on earth there was only light and no darkness whatever, the conception of light would not have been possible. The knowledge of courage is on account of cowardice. If there was no cowardice, there would not have been the knowledge of courage. Thus, the claim of humility made by a person is tantamount to takabbur (pride). There is no doubt in him being proudful. If his nafs was fully imbued with true humility, he would not have been aware thereof because of the non-existence of its opposite, viz. kibr (pride).
Since pride exists in the man who lays claim to humility, the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) says that the one who puts forth the claim that he is humble, is in actual fact considering himself to be elevated. Thus, he is a man of pride.
The meaning of Tawaadhu’ is that man views himself with all honesty to be so contemptible that the possibility of him having any rank does not even occur to his mind. He sees nothing but contemptibility in himself. When this degree of humility has been cultivated, no claims will be made, neither in regard to Tawaadhu’ nor in regard to any other praiseworthy attribute.
A humble man is not a person who regards himself above the act of humility he is displaying. A humble man is a person who considers himself below the act of humility he is doing.
Generally people believe that a humble person is one who displays acts of humility, e.g. a wealthy man rendering some service with his own hands to a poor person. People gain the impression from this display that the wealthy man is very humble when in fact, he may be entirely devoid of any humility because he thinks of himself as being superior to this act. While he overtly displays humility, he covertly believes that the act of humility in which he is involved is below his dignity. He feels conscious of having adopted humility and he believes that he has practised virtue.
True Tawaadhu’ (humility) is the consequence of the perception (mushaahadah) of the grandeur of Allah and of the tajalli (celestial illumination) of His Attributes.
While people generally think that ostensible actions or displays of humility are Tawaadhu’, in reality true humility is that condition of lowliness which is accepted by Allah Ta’ala. When the greatness of Allah dawns on the heart of man and he vividly realises the illumination of His Attributes, then the rebellious nafs melts away. The roots of rebellion and pride are then eradicated. The vain hopes of the nafs are annihilated. Humility then develops. This then is true humility.
A sin which humbles a man and cultivates in him dependency on Allah, is better than such worship which generates pride and arrogance in him.
The purpose of Ibaadat and Thikr is to become humble and to feel wholly dependent on Allah Ta’ala, eliminating the rebellion and arrogance of the nafs. If on account of a sin committed because of the frailty of human nature, man is torn by remorse, and the humility he feels as a result, causes him to despise himself and to believe that the sin will destroy him, then these effects of the sin are better than the conceit which a man develops as a consequence of his acts of worship and piety. His conceit, self-esteem and pride constrain him to despise other Muslims.
A dim-witted person should not now understand from this explanation that it is better to abandon worship and commit sins. The evil of sin and the virtue and beauty of obedience are self-evident facts. At this juncture the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) is simply pointing out that the actual method of reaching the Divine Court is by way of acquiring true humility and dependence on Allah.