The innermost being [sirr] is the secret of the mystery [sirru's-sirr]. He left his family when he noticed a fire in the direction of the mountain. What did he see? The eye of the head saw a fire [nar], while the eye of the heart saw a light [nur]. The eye of the head saw a creation [khalqan], while the eye of the heart saw a Divine Truth [haqqan].
He said to his household: "Stay here awhile, I notice a fire." (28:29)
It attracted him through his heart, and disposed him to relinquish control of his wife and his children.
"He said to his household, 'Stay here awhile...'" A summons has come from on high. The grappling irons of destiny have snatched the people [of the Lord] away from their wives and their children. O law [hukm], stay in place! O knowledge ['ilm], advance in the name of Allah! O lower self [nafs], stay in place! O heart [qalb] and innermost being [sirr], respond! What a loser is he who fails to grasp this, who does not love this, who does not believe in this! How great his loss, how great his loss! How far apart he must remain! How terrrible for him!
Perhaps I shall bring you news of it. (28:29)
"Stay there where you are, until I bring you news of the path." Because he had in fact strayed from the path. Its signposts were out of his sight. The Archangel [naqib an-nuqaba'] appeared in his presence, although it had never appeared to him before then. As it beckoned to him, it said: "You must wish you had never been created, and that, having been created, you knew what you had been created for!"
O sleeper, you must wake up, for the waters of the flood are all around you. Who is your leader [imam]? On the Day of Resurrection you will be called to give evidence. What is your Scripture [kitab]? Who is your teacher [mu'allim]? Who is your summoner [da'i]? Who is your Prophet [nabi]? You have no noble lineage [nasab]. Those whose lineage is authentic in the sight of Allah and in the eyes of His Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) are the people of dutiful devotion [ahl at-taqwa]. "O Messenger of Allah," someone asked, "who are members of your family?" The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied:
Every dutiful believer belongs to the family of Muhammad [kullu taqiyyin alu Muhammadin].
Hold your tongue, you have no common sense! Your house sits on the River Tigris and yet you are dying of thirst. Just two steps and you would reach the All-Merciful [ar-Rahman]. The lower self [nafs] and creatures [are the two things you need to step away from]. You too, O seeker! Just two steps and you would reach your goal in both this world and the hereafter.
If you wish for success [falah], you must endure with patience the hammer blows of my way of speaking. When my ecstasy [junun] overtakes me, I cannot see you. When the temper [tab'] of my innermost being [sirr] is aroused, the temper of my sincerity [ikhlas], I cannot see your face. I wish to improve you and to remove the dross from your heart. I shall put out the fire [hariq] that threatens to burn your house down, and I shall protect the honor of your womenfolk [harim].
Open your eyes and take notice of what is in front of you. The squads of punishment and chastisement have come to get you. Woe unto you, O stupid fool! You will very soon be dead. All that you are now involved in must fade away and be scattered. This fellow here will have to part [yufariqu] with his children, his home and his wife, and then make friends [yurafiqu] with the dust, the grave, and either the stokers of Hell [zabaniya] or the angels of mercy [mala'ikat ar-rahma]. O passing traveler, O transient, O transferee, O temporary loan!
Glory be to the One who treats you all so kindly [subhana man manna 'alaikum], O you who like to have fun without ever taking notice!
O you who forget your friends, not once a year do you bring me the tiniest trifle, let alone once a month or once a week. Take something for nothing, and tomorrow a million things. I am carrying your burdens, while you are scared that I might give you the job of bearing mine. Only Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) can take care of all my needs.
You say you would travel for a thousand years just to hear one word from me? But why, when the distance between me and you is only a few steps? You are lazy. You are a little ignoramus, a silly little fool. You think you have something to give. How many like you this world has fattened and then devoured! It made them plump with fame and fortune, then ate them up. If we had seen any good in it, you would not have beaten us to it.
Do not all things come home to Allah? (42:53)
As for what we are involved in, it all comes from Allah (Exalted is He).
When the Shaikh had stepped down from the lectern, one of his pupils [talamidha] said to him: "You were quite extreme in your admonition, and you spoke to him very harshly!" But the Shaikh replied: "If my words have had any effect upon him, he will surely come back for more." (The man did in fact attend the meeting [majlis] regularly from then on. He would also visit the Shaikh at other times, outside the formal session, and always behaved with the utmost humility and modesty in his presence. May Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him.)
O Allah [grant us] patience and pardon! O Allah, help us!
If you stand in the presence of any fellow creature, trying to obtain what he has at his disposal, Allah will despise you.
[As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:]
When someone pesters [tada'da'a] a rich man, seeking what he has in his possession, two thirds of his religion are gone.
You have made a habit of trying to scrounge things from your fellow creatures, so you will be in that condition when you have to meet Allah (Exalted is He). One time in the public square I saw a man scrounging from the people, although he had just sold a jubba of silk brocade for twenty-five dinars [gold coins]. So I followed him. He stopped beside a man who was eating harisa, and would not leave him alone until he gave him a mouthful of it. I said to him: "Did you not sell a jubba for such and such a price?" His response was: "I am neglecting my trade because of you!"
When someone has progressed to the ultimate degree of saintship [wilaya], he becomes a Qutb [spiritual axis, pole or pivot]. As such, he must carry the burdens of all creatures put together, but he is given the equivalent of the faith [iman] of all creatures put together, so that he will have the strength to bear what he must bear.
Pay no attention to my long shirt and my headcloth. This is what one wears after death. This is a shroud [kafan], the shroud of the dead. This is what befits me now, after I have been accustomed to wearing coarse wool [suf] and to eating rough or going hungry. I now have a pressing engagement, but not with any of you.
O people of Baghdad, be sensible! O people of the earth, O people of the heavens!
And He creates what you do not know. (16:8)
It is not an affectation. This is an outward appearance [zahir] that has an inner content [batin] to prove its authenticity, and an inner reality that has an outer manifestation to confirm it.
There is nothing worth talking about until your lords [arbab] become one single Lord [Rabb], until your interests become single and the object of your love becomes single. Your heart must be unified. When will the nearness of the Lord of Truth pitch its tent in your heart? When will your heart come to be enraptured [majdhub] and your innermost being [sirr] drawn near [muqarrab], and when will you meet your Lord after taking your leave of creatures?
As Allah's Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:
If someone devotes himself entirely to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), He will provide him with everything he needs, and if a person devotes himself entirely to this world, Allah will leave him in its care.
[In the first of these cases], things will occur miraculously [tukhraqu'l-'adat] for his benefit. He will receive what Allah has at His disposal, but only after total dedication to Him with his heart and his entire being [kulliyya].
As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:
If anyone performs an action with the intention of involving someone other than Me [as a partner] in it, well, I am the more Independent of the two partners [ana aghna'sh-sharikain]. It [the action] involves the partner ascribed to Me [shariki] and has nothing to do with Me.
Sincerity [ikhlas] is the believer's plot of land, while his deeds [a'mal] are its surrounding walls. The walls are subject to alteration and change, but not so the ground. Only upon dutiful devotion [taqwa] can a building be firmly based.
If someone should say: "I have dedicated myself to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), but He has not provided me with everything I need," the answer must be: "The fault lies in you, not in the Messenger."
Nor does he [the Messenger] speak from his own desire. (53:3)
Do you know anything at all about Allah (Exalted is He)? No, by Allah! You are all madly in love with this world and its glamour. If you were telling the truth about the claims you make, you would not have to resort to cunning tricks in order to obtain the merest trifle.
Cast your lower self [nafs] into the Valley of Destiny [wadi'l-qadar] until, when its time has come, the top rung of your ladder makes contact with the door of nearness [to the Lord]. You will be welcomed by a face more lovely than all the charming beauty of this world and the hereafter. The fond affection [mawadda] between the pair of you will be complete. All obstacles and intermediaries will disappear. Then you will hear its [the lower self's] call for help from the Valley of His Destiny: "Take charge of the deposits held in trust for you, and make full use of the service I can offer you. I am imprisoned over here, to your detriment or for your benefit." Your nearness [to the Lord] will plead on its behalf, urging a positive response to its request. At this point the hand of knowledge ['ilm] will be extended to it, and the hand of the law [hukm] will come to its aid.
As for your immersion in it [this world] at the outset of your career, before you have mounted any opposition to your natural urges [tab'], your passions [hawa] and your willfulness [irada], in spite of your claim to be numbered among the loved ones [mahbubun] and those who have been drawn near [muqarrabun], this is a regrettable delusion that will hold you back and an unfortunate error that will lead you astray. If you realized that this world was sure to leave you in the lurch, you would not ask so much of it. When your inner [batin] becomes worthy to serve Allah, only then will this world become fit to serve you. Its wine is poison; it may taste sweet at first, but it soon turns bitter. Once it has filtered through into your heart and you have come under its control, it converts into a poison and kills you.
Our predecessors would learn to distinguish between different kinds of notions [khawatir], before withdrawing into secluded retreats [zawaya]. O you who cannot tell the difference between the notion [khatir] of the lower self [nafs], that of the devil [shaitan] and that of the heart [qalb], how can you withdraw into seclusion? The satanic notion prompts one to commit sins of disobedience and to make mistakes; it implants the root of unbelief [kufr], then encourages the sins of disobedience that branch out from it. As for the angelic notion [khatir al-malak], it prompts one to practice worshipful obedience and to perform righteous deeds.
Somebody said to him who was crucified (meaning al-Hallaj): "Give me a piece of good advice!" He replied: "It concerns your lower self [nafs]; if you can control it, [well and good], otherwise it will control you."
If you wish to drink in the company of kings, you had better take to the empty ruins, the wastelands and the deserts, until you sober up from your intoxication, so that you do not divulge their secrets and have them put you to death for it. This is why it is better for them [the people of the Lord] to go wandering about, rather than settle down. This world has been put here as a means of transport, if you wish to meet your Lord.
Seclusion [is appropriate only] after [observance of] all the rules of the sacred law [ahkam ash-shar']. The door of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) cannot be reached without seeking help, and a firm determination to achieve something will make the means available. The door of knowledge ['ilm] is arrived at by the path of the law [hukm]. The law means the [divine] commandments and prohibitions. We therefore accept what the law requires of us; we hear and we obey. At this stage we are exposed to adversities, so this is where the servant needs to be knowledgeable ['alim]. One of us may say: "Why should I have to suffer misfortune, despite my dedication to worshipful obedience?" Our response to him must be: "You need a little knowledge!"
The specialist in the law [sahib al-hukm] is concerned with storing the goods, while the specialist in knowledge [sahib al-'ilm] is concerned with their distribution. The law is associated with the pious abstainers [zuhhad], while knowledge is associated with the champions of truth [siddiqun], the loved ones, the intimate companions. Abstinence [zuhd] is associated with the law, while love is associated with knowledge. The one serves as a business partner [sharik], the other as a minister [wazir].
The ascetic [mutazahhid] is feverish [mahmum], the pious abstainer [zahid] is consumptive [maslul] and he who has real knowledge ['arif] is alive after death. This ascetic has renounced the desires of the flesh and has been fasting, so his lower self [nafs] has caught a fever. The pious abstainer has experienced prolonged renunciation, so his sickness has been prolonged and has caused him to contract tuberculosis. This world has died as far as he is concerned. While he is lying in this condition on the bed of the gracious kindness of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), what should appear at the door of his abstinence but food prepared in many different ways, as well as various styles of clothing hung on pegs! He cannot leave this world until he has received his allotted share in full. The unbelievers [kuffar] and disobedient sinners have not had the decency to seek [their proper due]; they have just helped themselves to things that are unlawful [haram].
Allah (Exalted is He) gave that servant life, then He resurrected him as a different creature. Flesh had withered away, bone had weakened, skin had grown thin. The lower self [nafs] had lost its sweet taste, passion [hawa] had departed and natural inclination [tab'] had been overcome, while the heart contained the spirit [ruh], the inner meaning [ma'na], the direct experience [ma'rifa] and the realization of Divine Unity [tawhid].
Complete dominion belongs to the heart alone, and the Lord of Truth takes care of it. He brings His servant back to life after his death, his carnal desires and appetites having died a spiritual [ma'nawi] death. A symbolic death along with an actual death. Allah brings him back to life after He has shown him what is over there. To the servant He has left dead at His door, He shows the vast scope of His wisdom and His mysteries, the multitude of His soldiers and His subjects. Then, when He has shown him His kingdom and informed him of His secret [sirr], He joins his spirit [ruh] to his body and his outer [zahir] to his inner [batin], so that he may receive his allotted shares [aqsam] in full. Prior to this, even if all the portions of the East and the West had been spread out before him, he could not have taken one single atom from them.
Through a mysterious power [qudra khafiya], an inner will [irada batina] exerted by Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), His Prophets [anbiya'], His saints [awliya'] and the special few [khawass] among His creatures are detached from their worldly desires. Not the slightest trace of carnal desire and willfulness remains within them, so that their inner beings [bawatin] are purely devoted to Him. Then, when He wishes to grant them their allotted shares in full, He creates the life of worldly existence [wujud] within them, so that all the allotted shares may be received.
Jesus (peace be upon him) did not marry; he never took a wife. At the end of time, Allah (Exalted is He) will send him back down to the earth, and He will then marry him to a young woman of Quraish, who will bear him a son.
As for the person with real experience ['arif], he does not receive his portion until after achieving proficiency in both knowledge ['ilm] and abstinence [zuhd], then he collects his allotted shares along with all the rest of you. He regains his worldly appetites after having abstained from them [to be on the safe side] whenever there was any doubt. Once he has acquired knowledge, cold water tastes good to him, while in the eyes of pious abstainers the finest meal seems like drinking wine and eating the flesh of the pig. Many a pious abstainer is shut off by his abstinence from the Lord of Truth, and many a person with real experience is shut off through dwelling too much on his experience [ma'rifa], although this is actually rather unusual and in most cases he is likely to be safe and sound.
As a general rule, your closeness to the sons of this world keeps you far away from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). The right course for you is to concentrate your attention on the hereafter and on worshipful obedience, then you may be saved, while your allotted shares will come to you even if they are unwelcome.
What He requires of you [first of all] is that you stop following your natural tendency [tab'] and put in its place the special concessions [rukhas] allowed by the sacred law [shar']. Then He will instruct you to give up these special concessions bit by bit, until all your actions are in accordance with the strict interpretation ['azima]. Then, if you patiently observe the strict version of the law, love for Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will arise within your heart. Once love is firmly established there, saintship [wilaya] will come to you from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).
If you are sensible, count yourself among the people of the Fire [of Hell], because this will encourage you to improve your conduct. If you are in fact one of the people of the Garden [of Paradise], you will have demonstrated your gratitude to Him. When you go out of your house, you should feel as if you were going forth to war, as if you might never come back home again. You should also be aware that you are made to suffer because of your acquisitiveness, and be convinced that Allah (Exalted is He) is capable of sustaining you without effort or strain.
The believer [mu'min] is sometimes like a mountain and at other times like a feather, blown about by the winds of His destiny [qadar]; in the face of misfortunes like a mountain, but in the company of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) like a feather wafted by the winds of His decrees [aqdar].
O people of ours, it is too late for you to fill the role of Messenger [risala] or the role of Prophet [nubuwwa], but there is still time for you to experience saintship [wilaya]!
There can be no access to the King's company as long as one is still attached to worldly existence [wujud]. It seems you must be blind, since you do not see. It seems you must have quenched your thirst, since you do not drink. It seems you must be dead, since there is no movement in you. Woe unto the outcasts who are unaware of being outcasts! You do no good, nor do you help the good people to do good. You are bad; you love a worldly life with no hereafter, an outer [zahir] with no inner [batin]. You will gain no benefit from your important connections, your wealth and your patron. You will soon be dead, and after death you will suffer humiliation.
Should anyone desire glory, the glory belongs to Allah. (35:10)
And [thus it also belongs] to His Messenger [rasul] and to the saints [awliya'] and the champions of truth [siddiqun].
The ocean is this world, the ship is the sacred law [shar'] and the sailor is the grace [lutf] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). Anyone who deviates from following the sacred law will therefore drown in this world, but if someone seeks refuge aboard the ship of the sacred law and makes himself at home there, the sailor will appoint him to be his lieutenant [istanabahu]. He will put him in charge of the ship and everything aboard it, and will make him a relative by finding him a bride from his own family [saharahu]. This is how it will be for someone who forsakes this world, devotes himself to the acquisition of knowledge ['ilm], bears suffering with patience and comes to be the beloved [mahbub] of the sacred law. While he is in this condition, lo and behold, Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will come and bestow His grace upon him. He will grant him His intimate knowledge [ma'rifa] and invest him with robes of honor specially designed for him. One mark of divine friendship on top of another [wilaya fawqa wilaya]!
In Allah you have ample compensation for the loss of anything other than Him. If something happens to pass you by, do not feel sad about it, for the King disposes of His property as He sees fit. The slave ['abd] belongs to his Master [Mawla], along with everything he owns. Whatever He may take away from you, you will find it again tomorrow [at the Resurrection]. The Fire [of Hell] will say: "Pass through, O believer [mu'min], for your light has extinguished my flames!" Likewise in this world, when faith [iman] has grown strong and one's inner being [batin] has made contact with the nearness of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), along comes the fire of disasters to cause an obstruction on the path of hearts. The fire of conflicts takes its stand on the path of aspirants, then it catches the aspirant [murid] because of the remnants he still carries, traces of worldly attachment and attention to creatures. To those of perfect faith [kamil al-iman] it says: "Pass through, O believer, for your light has extinguished my flames!" They are not injured in this world by arrows that fall from the castle walls. You must conduct yourselves in such a way that neither the fire of this world nor that of the hereafter will be able to harm you.
Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has certain servants whom He calls physicians [atibba']. He lets them live in good health ['afiya], causes them to die in good health and admits them to the Garden [of Paradise] in good health.
When someone really knows ['arafa] Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), he becomes detached from carnal appetites and pleasures. It is only because he is compelled to do so that he accepts all his allotted shares [of worldly goods]. "The neighbor before the house [al-jar qabla'd-dar]." Having won the neighbor, this fortunate person [mubarak] now gains the house, established in possession by the King. The King has said:
You are today in our presence established and worthy of trust. (12:54)
When someone has really come to know Allah, and has been admitted to His presence, he will not reach out with his eyes or his hands toward anything in His kingdom. He is just like a bride ['arus] who has been solemnly escorted to the King. Her food and drink are the nearness of the King. In His nearness she finds the fulfillment of all her desires. When the lower self [nafs] has become obedient, it melts together with the heart, which becomes its jailer. Then the King releases the heart from the prison.
And the king said: "Bring him to me." (12:50)
After his nobility and his good character and good conduct have become apparent, he will be escorted into His presence. He will greet him with noble generosity, draw him near and bring him close, treat him kindly, invest him with robes of honor and address him without an intermediary, saying:
You are today in our presence established and worthy of trust.
He will keep all his attention focused on Himself.