The Seal of the Wisdom of Power (Malk) in the Word of Lut (Lot)

Malk is power and force, and the strong man with power says, "I have power over the kneading, since I am forceful in kneading it." When the poet, Qays ibn al-Hatim, described his attack with a spear in verse, he said:

I have power over it

    and so I made its rupture wide,

        and you see standing under it what was behind it.

That is to say that he used enough force in the thrust. It was what Allah said regarding Lut, peace be upon him, "If only I had the power to combat you, or could take refuge in some powerful support!" (11:80) The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah showed mercy to my brother Lut, and he took refuge in a powerful support." So the Prophet said that Lut was with Allah who is strong. It was Allah whom Lut, peace be upon him, meant by the strong pillar, and resistance when he said, "If only I had the power". Here it is aspiration (himma) in relation to man in particular.

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "From that time, the time in which Lut, peace be upon him, said, 'or could take refuge in some powerful support,' after that, Prophets have only been sent with some power from their people." His tribe protected him as Abu Talib protected the Messenger of Allah. His words, "If only I had the power to combat you" is because he heard Allah say, "It is Allah who created you from a weak beginning," (30:54) by origin, "and then after weakness, gave you strength." Strength is by appointing, and it is non-essential strength. "Then after strength ordained weakness and grey hair." Appointing is connected to grey hair. As for weakness, it returns to the basis of its creation as He said, "He created you from a weak beginning." Allah returns him to that from which He created him, as He says, "then some of you revert to the lowest form of life that, so after having knowledge, they may know nothing at all." (16:70) Allah mentions that he returns to the first weakness. The old man is judged to be as weak as the child is.

A Prophet is only sent after he has reached the age of forty. It is the time which is the beginning of decrease and weakness. For this reason, Lut said, "If only I had the power to combat you," although that demands effective aspiration (himma). If you were to ask: "What prevents him from using effective aspiration while it is present in the wayfarers (sâlikûn) among the followers when the Messengers are more entitled to that?" you spoke the truth. However, you lack another knowledge, which is that gnosis does not leave the aspiration freedom of action. Whenever gnosis is great, then its freedom of action with the aspiration is weak. That has two reasons – one is his realisation of the station of slavedom and his regarding the root of his natural creation; 1 and the other reason is the oneness of the actor and the acted upon. The aspiration of a Messenger does not appear, since the latter aspect prevents it.

In this witnessing, he sees that his opponent does not turn from the reality on which he is based in the state of his source-form and the state of his non-existence. He only appears in existence through what he had in the state of non-existence by his source-form. He does not overstep his reality nor does he abandon his path. That is called dissent; yet it is a non-essential matter manifested by the veil which is over the eyes of the people, as Allah says, "but most people do not know." They know what is manifest and outward of the life of this world, but they are ignorant of the Next life. It is the other way round, so it is from their words, "our hearts are veiled," 2 that is, in coverings. It is a covering which veils them from perceiving the matter for what it is. This and its like prevent the gnostic from acting freely in the world.

Shaykh Abu 'Abdullah ibn al-Qa'id said to Shaykh Abu's-Su'ud ibn ash-Shibli, "Why do you not act freely?" Abu's-Su'ud replied, "I have left Allah to act for me as He wishes." He meant the command of Allah, "so take Him as your Guardian." (73:9) The Guardian is the one with freedom of action, especially as He heard Allah saying, "Give of that to which He has made you successors (khalifs)." (57:7) Abu's-Su'ud knew, and the gnostics know that the command which he has is not his, and he is only a successor to it. Allah told him, "this command is the deen to which I have you successors and over which I have given you power, so take Me for a guardian in it," Abu's-Su'ud obeyed the command of Allah and took Him for a Guardian.

How can there remain any aspiration for the one who witnesses the like of this command? Aspiration (himma) only acts by the property of concentration that which its possessor does not have, and acts on other than his concentration. This gnosis separates him from that property of concentration. The complete gnosis manifests gnosis at the end of incapacity and weakness. One of the Abdal 3 said to Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Razzaq, 4 "After you greet Shaykh Abu Madyan, 5  tell him, 'O Abu Madyan! Why is nothing difficult for us, yet things are difficult for you, and we long for your station and you do not long for ours?" Similarly, although Abu Madyan had that station as well as the other, we are more complete than him in the station of weakness and incapacity. His badl said this to him; he did not say it.

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said that this station is from the command of Allah to him: "I do not know what He will do to me or you. I only follow what is revealed to me." The Messenger acts according to what is revealed to him. He does not have anything else. If He reveals to him that he should act by ordinance, he acts. If he is prevented from acting, he does not act. The best part of choice is to abandon freedom of action unless the person is deficient in gnosis.

Abu's-Su'ud ash-Shibli said to his believing companions, "Allah gave us freedom of action fifteen years ago, and we abandoned it through politeness." This is the language of conceit. As for us, we did not abandon it through politeness, for abandoning would imply preference. Rather, we abandoned it by the perfection of gnosis. Gnosis does not oblige it on the strength of choice. When the gnostic acts by aspiration in the world, it is from divine command and compulsion, not by choice.

There is no doubt that the station of the Messenger demands freedom of action for the acceptance of the Message which he brings. Allah informs him of what will be accepted in his community and among his people in order to manifest the deen of Allah. The wali is not like that. Nevertheless, the Messenger does not seek Him in the manifest, because the Messenger has compassion for his people. He does not want them to exceed by having the proof appear against them because that would entail their destruction. He spares them.

The Messenger also knew that when something inimitable 6 is manifested to the community, some of them believe in it, and some recognise it but deny it out of injustice, arrogance or envy. Some of them attribute it to magic and deception. The Messenger sees that, and he also sees that no one will believe unless Allah illuminates his heart by the light of belief. When the person does not look by that light called belief, the inimitatable miracle has no benefit for him. Their aspiration does not seek initimable matters, since the effect is not uniform among those who see it, nor is it in their hearts as He said in respect to the most perfect of Messengers and the most knowing of creation and the most truthful in state, "You cannot guide those you would like to but Allah guides those He wills." (28:56)

If aspiration did have an effect, no one would be more perfect than the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, nor have a higher nor stronger aspiration than him, yet even so his aspiration did not bring about Abu Talib, his uncle, becoming Muslim, and it was to the Prophet that the ayat which we mentioned was revealed. Similarly, Allah said of the Messenger, "It is only his to deliver the message." 7 And He said, "You are not responsible for their guidance, but Allah guides whoever He wills," (2:272) and He added in Surat al-Qasas, "He has best knowledge of the guided," (28:56) those to whom knowledge of their guidance was given in the state of their non-existence in their source-forms. It is established that knowledge follows the known. Whoever is a believer in his source-form and in the state of his non-existence, appears in that form in the state of his existence. Allah knew that of him, so that is what he is like. For that reason, Allah said, "He has best knowledge of the guided."

When Allah said the like of that, He also said, "My Word, once given, is not subject to change," (50:29) because My Word is based on My knowledge of My creation. "and I do not wrong My slaves," that is, I do not decree that disbelief (kufr) on them which makes them wretched and then I demand of them what is not in their capacity to do. Rather, We only deal with them according to what We gave them knowledge of, and We only gave them knowledge of what they gave Us from themselves by that on which they are based. So if they do wrong, they are the ones who are unjust. For this reason, He said, "but they wronged themselves. Allah did not wronged them." 8 Finally, We only said to them what Our essence accorded that We say to them. Our Essence is known to Us by what it is based on; so, if We say this, and do not say that, then We only spoke by what We knew to say. We spoke the word from Us, and obedience or lack of obedience is up to those who hear.

So all is from Us and from them,9

    and acceptance is from Us and from them.

If they are not from Us,

    We, without a doubt, are from them.

So,. my friend, realise this wisdom of power in the word of Lut. It is a gate which belongs to gnosis. The secret 10 has been made clear for you, and the command is clear. It is included in the even which is called the odd.

1. Which is weakness, and the slave obeying the command of the Master, as in Qur'an 30:54, "It is Allah who created you from a weak beginning."

2. Two places: 2:88; 4:155.

3. Abdal, plural of badl, a substitute. Shaykh al-Akbar says, "They are seven. Whoever travels from one place and leaves his body in its from so that no one recognises that he has gone, that one is only a badl. He is modelled on the heart of Ibrahim, peace be upon him."

4. A jurist and one of Abu Madyan's disciples.

5. Abu Madyan: Shu'ayb ibn al-Husayn al-Andalusi, great Maghribi Sufi, born ca. 520/1126 near Seville and died near Tlemcen in 594/1197.

6. Mu'jiza, a miracle performed by a Prophet to prove his truthfulness and which others are unable to do.

7. Ref. Qur'an 5:99 and several other places.

8. 2:57, 9:70, etc. in many places in the Qur'an.

9. The apparent sources. The Word is from him and obedience from them.

10. The secret of the Decree.

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