WAKENING ASPIRATION (Iqâdh Al-Himam):
COMMENTARY ON THE HIKAM
by Ibn 'Ajiba
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A sign of the death of the heart:
lack of sadness about beneficial actions you have missed,
and lack of regret about your mistakes.
Three things can cause the death of the heart: love of this world, heedlessness of dhikru'llah, and allowing the limbs to commit acts of disobedience. Three things can result in the life of the heart: asceticism in this world, occupation with dhikru'llah, and keeping the company of the awliya' of Allah.
There are three signs of its death: lack of sorrow for missing acts of obedience, lack of regret for mistakes committed and keeping the company of the heedless dead. That is because the issuance of obedience from a person is a sign of ultimate happiness and the issuance of disobedience is a sign of wretchedness. If the heart is alive with gnosis and faith, it is pained by that which will oblige its wretchedness and happy about what will oblige its happiness. Or you could say that acts of obedience issuing from the slave is a sign of the pleasure of his Master and the issuance of disobedience is a sign of His anger.
The living heart feels what pleases his Master and rejoices, and feels what angers Him and sorrows. The dead heart does not feel anything. It is the same to it where it obeys or disobeys. It does not rejoice in obedience and harmony nor is it sad for a mistake or disobedience, as is the business of the physical corpse. In a hadith from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "Whoever is delighted by his good actions and grieved by his evil actions is a believer." 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said, "The believer sees his wrong actions as if they were the foot of a mountain which he fears will fall on him. The impious sees his wrong actions as flies which land on his nose and he says, 'Like that," and swats them away."
But the slave must not mostly look at the sign of the wrong action and then have scant hope and a bad opinion of his Lord, as he indicates:
Do not become so overwhelmed by your wrong action
that it stops you thinking well of Allah.
Regarding fear and hope, people fall into three categories: the people of the beginning who must be dominated by fear; the people of middle, who must have a balance between fear and hope; and the people of the end who are dominated by hope. When the people of the beginning are dominated by fear, they strive in actions and refrain from mistakes. By that their end shines. "As for those who do jihad in Our Way, We will guide them to Our paths." (29:69) The people of the middle turn their worship to purification of their inward, and so their worship is of the heart. If they were dominated by fear, they would return to the worship of the limbs when what is desired of them is the worship of the inward with the hope of arrival and fear of Allah's immensity. So their fear and hope are balanced.
As for those who arrive, they do not see that they have any action or non-action. They look at the management of the Real and what flows according to the Decree and meet it with acceptance and pleasure. If it is obedience, they thank and bear witness to the favour of Allah. If it is disobedience, they apologise, show adab and do not stop with their selves since they hold that they have no existence. They watch for what emerges from the element of power and expect His forbearance, pardon, goodness and kindness more than they expect His force and subjugation. May Allah have mercy on ash-Shafi'i who said:
When my heart is hard and my positions are constricted,
I make my hope a ladder to reach Your pardon.
My wrong actions seem immense to me. But in relation
to Your pardon, my Lord, Your pardon is far greater.
You continue to possess generosity, abundant favour and grace,
showing generosity, pardon and nobility.
Would that I knew whether I will go to the Garden and rejoice
or go the Hellfire, full of regret.
Allah Almighty says, "Say: 'My slaves who have transgressed against yourselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Truly Allah forgives all wrong actions. He is Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.'" (39:50) Reflect on the case of the man who killed ninety-nine people and then asked a monk, "Can I repent?" and the monk replied to him, "You cannot repent," and so he completed the hundred. Then he went to a scholar and asked him and he said to him "Who will come between you and that? Go to a certain town. There are people in it who worship Allah. Be among them until you die." Halfway there, he died and the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment quarrelled over him. So Allah revealed to them to measure the distance between the town he left and the town to which he was going, and he would belong to the people of whichever of them was closer. So Allah inspired the town to which he was going to come nearer and to the town from which he left to go further away. So he was found to be nearer the town to which he was going and the angels of mercy took him. The hadith is found in the two Sahih collections.
Shaykh Abu'l-'Abbas al-Mursi said, "When the common people are frightened, they fear. When they are made hopeful, they hope. When the elite are frightened, they hope, and when they are given hope, they fear."
He said in Lata'if al-Minan, "The meaning of these words of the shaykh is that the common people stop with the outward business. So when they are frightened, they fear since they cannot pass beyond the expression by the light of understanding which the people of Allah possess. When the people of Allah are frightened, they hope, knowing that beyond their fear and beyond their fear are the attributes of the One they hope for. One must not despair of His mercy nor give up hope of His grace. So they therefore strive for the qualities of His generosity, knowing that what frightens them is only in order to gather them to Him and return them to Him. When they are made hopeful, they fear His hidden will which is beyond their hope and dear that what has appeared of hope is in order to test their intellects to see whether they will stop at hope or penetrate to what is hidden in His will. That is why their hope provokes their fear."
Al-Junayd visited Shaykh as-Sari and found him in a state of contraction. He asked, "What is wrong, shaykh? Why are you in contraction?" He replied, "A young man came to me and asked me, 'What is the reality of repentance?' I told him, 'That you do not forget your wrong action.' The young man said, 'Rather repentance is that you forget your wrong action.' Then he left me." Al-Junayd continued, 'I said, 'What the young man said is correct, because when I was in a state of concealment and then He moved me to witnessing purity, remembering concealment in the state of purity is concealment.'"
As-Sari looked at the people of the beginning while al-Junayd looked at the people of the end. Each is correct, and Allah knows best. Then the author mentions the obligation to think of wrong action as insignificant and said:
Whoever has gnosis of his Lord,
finds that his wrong action is insignificant
beside His generosity.
Whoever recognises his Lord, withdraws from seeing his wrong action because he is annihilated to himself by witnessing his Lord. If an action issues from him which is contrary to wisdom, witnessing the blessing dominates him. The Almighty says, "Tell My slaves that I am the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful." (15:49) As for His words, "My punishment is the Painful Punishment," that is for the person who does not repent. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If you were to sin until your errors reached the reins of heaven and then repented, Allah would still turn to you. If Allah's slaves had not committed wrong actions, Allah would have removed them and then brought another people who would commit wrong actions and ask forgiveness so that He could forgive him. He is the Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Allah is happier about the repentance of one of His slaves than one of you would be about finding your camel which had strayed away from you in the middle of the desert."
But nevertheless one must not think that his wrong action is insignificant so that he is deluded by the forbearance of Allah. Allah revealed to Da'ud, peace be upon him, "Da'ud, tell my true slaves that they should not be deluded. I will implement My justice and fairness and punish them without wronging them. Tell my wrongdoing slaves not to despair. No wrong action is so great that I will not pardon them for it."
Al-Junayd said, "When a source appears form the Generous it joins the evildoer to the good doer." Shaykh Abu'l-'Abbas said in his Hizb, "My God, disobeying You calls me to Your obedience, and obeying You calls me to Your disobedience. In which will I fear and in which will I hope? If I profess disobedience You meet me with Your favour and do not leave me any fear. If I profess obedience, You meet me with Your justice and it does not leave me with hope. Would that I knew how I could see my good-doing in the face of Your good doing, or how I could remain ignorant of Your favour in the face of My disobedience."
The meaning of what the shaykh said is that when a person is committing disobedience, he witnesses the force and immensity of the Real and his own weakness and powerlessness beside Him. Therefore from disobedience he obtains the contrition and abasement of himself and exaltation and reverence of his Lord. This is the best of the acts of obedience, so the disobedience he was committing has called him to the obedience he obtained from it. When, however, he is doing obedience, in it he may witness himself and the aim of his enjoyment and his portion and so he will associate (himself) with his Lord and shoe incorrect adab with Him. This is disobedience. So when he is involved in obedience, he is called to this disobedience which he obtains from it. Therefore he does not know which of them to fear and which of them to hope for.
His words, "If I profess disobedienceÉ" mean if I look at the form of disobedience, You meet me with Your favour and its name is erased and its trace effaced. If I look at the form of disobedience, You meet me with Your justice, and it disappears and is wiped out and pure hope remains of the Generous Giver who gives without reason and whose forbearance envelops the objection and the rebuke. Allah Almighty knows best.
So the result is that the gnostic does not stop at disobedience, even if it is great, nor with disobedience, even if it is terrible. That is the meaning of his words:
There is no minor wrong action when you face His justice.
There is no major wrong action when you experience His bounty.
The minor wrong action is a crime which against which there is no threat in the Qur'an or in hadith, and the major wrong action is the one about which there is the threat of punishment or hadd-punishment in the Qur'an or in the Sunna. Other things are said as well. This is all by an outward regard of the matter. As for what is in the sight of Allah in the unseen and by looking at His forbearance and injustice, it occurs different to what is supposed. The Almighty says, "What confronts them from Allah will be something they did not reckon with." (39:45) So in the case of whoever is already the object of Divine concern, the crime does not harm him. They are those whose evil deeds Allah transforms into good deeds.
Even if actions are signs, they vary in some stations, and so it is mandatory to have equal hope and fear in some stations and to submit to Allah at all times. "The words of your Lord are perfect in truthfulness and justice. No one can change His words." (6:116) When Allah confronts you with His justice and majesty, no minor wrong action remains for you and your minor wrong actions become major ones. When Allah meets you with His gracious favour, generosity, goodness and beauty, no major wrong action remains for your and your major wrong actions become minor ones.
Yahya ibn Mu'adh ar-Razi said, "When they obtain His favour, no evil deed remains for them. When His justice is placed on them, no good deed remains for them." It is said that if the hope and fear of a believer are weighed, neither of them outweighs the other. Rather the believer is like a bird with two wings. Shaykh Zarruq said something to that effect.
There is the hadith of the man who had ninety-nine scrolls, each scroll stretching as far as the eye could see. Then a card the size of a finger nail was produced which contained "There is no god but Allah." Those scrolls were light, indicating the immensity of His forbearance, mercy, and the comprehensivesness of His generosity and grace.
After he mentioned the sign the death of the heart, he mentioned the actions which oblige its life.
No deed has more hope of being accepted
than the one you do and forget about, thinking it insignificant.
It is as if that the text of the Shaykh is addressed to the hearts. That is most likely by the context since all his words are about the life and death of hearts, i.e. there is no deed which has more hope of reviving hearts than an action which is by Allah and for Allah in which one is withdrawn from other than Him, without observing its portion and passion in it and in which he is free of his strength and power. When power makes it manifest in him, he is absent to seeing it and the form of its existence is insignificant in his eyes since it is tajalli of the immensity of his Master in his heart. So everything except Him is insignificant in his eyes. So the like of this deed gives life to hearts and grants witnessing of the Knower of the unseen worlds. It is the spirit of certainty, and it is the life of the hearts of the gnostics.
When Allah wants to take charge of His slave, He raises him to action and makes it seem insignificant in his eyes. So he continues to strive in the actions of the limbs until He moves him to the actions of the hearts and then the limbs have rest from toil, and all that remains is witnessing immensity with adab. An-Nahrajuri said, "One of the signs of Allah taking charge of his states is that he witnesses his deficiency in his sincerity, his heedlessness in his dhikr, his imperfection in his truthfulness, lassitude in his striving and lack of care in his poverty. So all his states are not pleasing and he is increased in poverty and need of Allah for his goal and his journey until he has no need of anything except Him."
When the heart is alive with gnosis of Allah, it is a place for the tajalli of the divine waridat. He indicates that:
He only sent a warid to you
so that it would bring you to Him.
The warid is a divine light which Allah casts into the heart of those He loves among His slaves. There are three categories of waridat according to the beginning, the middle and the end. Or you could say, according to the seekers, the travellers and those who have arrived. The first category is the warid of awakening. It is a light which brings you out of the darkness of heedlessness to the light of certainty. It is for the people of the beginning among the seekers. When he awakens from his sleep and awakens from his heedlessness, and goes straight, seeking his Lord, then He turns to him with his heart and body and concentrates his entire being on Him.
The second category is the warid of the advance (iqbal). It is a light which Allah casts into the heart of His slave which moves him to remember his Lord and makes him withdraw from other than Him. He continues to be busy with His remembrance, withdrawn from others, until his heart is filled with light and he withdraws from all that is other than the One Invoked. So he only sees Allah. That brings him out of the prison of others and frees him of the bondage of effects.
The third is the warid of the arrival, which is a light which overpowers the slave and then overpowers his outward and inward and brings him out of the prison of his nafs and makes him withdraw from witnessing the sensory.
He indicates the first warid, the warid of waking up when he said, "He only sentÉ", i.e. He shone the light of wakefulness and awakening on him. It is the warid by which you come to Him and travel to Him. If this warid had not come to you, you would remain in the land of your heedlessness, slumbering in Your intoxication, remaining in your regret.
Then he indicates the second category, which is the warid of the advance, and said:
He sent a warid to you
to deliver you from the control of otherness
and to free you from being a slave to effects.
This means that the warid of the advance comes to make you intimate with the dhikr the Great and Exalted. When you are busy with remembering Him and have withdrawn from other than Him, He receives you, i.e. saves you from the power of the thieves of others after they had tightened your bonds with the rope of your passion and imprisoned you in the prison of your portion and hopes. He also frees and liberates you from the bondage of secondary effects after they had power over you by what they displayed to you of the adornments of delusion. When you are delivered from the authority of others, then you will reach the witnessing of lights. When you are freed from the bondage of effects, then you rise to witnessing the secrets. So the lights are the lights of the attributes and the secrets are the secrets of the Essence. The lights are for the people of annihilation in the Attributes, and the secrets are for the people of annihilation in the Essence.
Then he indicates the third category, which this the warid of arrival:
He sent a warid to you
to release you from the prison of your existence
and to bring you to the open space of inner witnessing.
He sent to you a warid of arrival after He gave you the breezes of advance to bring you out of the prison of seeing your existence to open space, the expansiveness of witnessing your Lord and seeing that your existence is an impediment which prevents you witnessing your Lord since it is impossible that you witness Him and witness other than Him with Him. Your existence is a wrong action which cannot be compared to any other wrong action. Al-Junayd recited:
My existence is that I withdraw from existence
by what appears to me of witnessing.
Annihilation to the self and removing it is harder than annihilation to phenomenal beings and its destruction. Whenever the nafs is removed and destroyed, then phenomenal being is destroyed and has no effect. Phenomenal being may be destroyed while some of it remains in the nafs. That is why the shaykh said that phenomenal beings are the prison of man's existence, and Allah knows best.
Then he explained those waridat and said:
Lights are the mounts of the hearts and the secrets.
"Light" is a speck in the heart of the slave from the meaning of a Name or Attribute whose meaning flows through his entire being until he directly sees truth and falsehood with which it is not possible to fail to grasp his obligation. Shaykh Zarruq said that. "Mounts" are camels which are ready for riding, and hearts are the realities which accept things which are understood, Secrets are the realities which accept the tajalliyat. The secret is finer and purer than the heart.
All are names for the ruh. As long as the ruh is darkened by acts of disobedience, wrong actions, appetites and faults, it is called "nafs". When it is curbed and hobbled like a camel, it is called intellect ('aql). When it continues to alternate between heedlessness and presence it is called heart (qalb). When it at peace and still and has rest from the toil of humanity, it is called ruh. When it is purified of the darkness of the sensory, it is called a secret (sirr) since it becomes one of the secrets of Allah when it returns to its source, which is the secret of the Jabarut.
When Allah wants to make someone reach the Presence of His Purity and convey him to the place of His intimacy, He supports him with the waridat of lights, like mounts, on which he is carried in the sedan of Divine concern, fanned by the gentle breeze of guidance and surrounded by the help of Divine care. So the ruh travels from the worlds of humanity to the worlds of spirituality until it becomes one of the secrets of Allah which only Allah knows. "Say: 'The ruh is my Lord's concern." (17:85)
So the lights, which are the waridat, are the mounts of the hearts which carry them to the Presence of the Knower of the Unseen worlds. The mounts of the secrets carry them to the Jabarut of the Almighty, All-Compelling.
So suluk (wayfaring) is guidance and jadhb (attraction) is Divine concern. In the warid of awakening and advance, suluk conveys him, and in the warid of arrival jadhb conveys him. The lights which are the mounts of the hearts convey them through suluk, although in it they are conveyed with the sweetness of the light of awakening and advance, and so all their suluk becomes jadhb. As for the lights which convey them on the mounts of the secrets, they convey them by means of jadhb mixed with suluk. This conveying is greater, and Allah knows best.
Then he explains how they travel on this mounts and what hinders them in the journey.
The army of the heart is light.
The army of the self is darkness.
When Allah wishes to help His slave,
He reinforces him with the armies of light
and cuts off the reinforcements of darkness and otherness.
Darkness is a speck which falls into the self from passion from the impediments of illusion and so it obliges blindness to the truth which gives falsehood control over the reality. So the slave remains without insight. Shaykh Zarruq said that.
We already mentioned that the nafs, 'aql, heart, ruh and secret are names for the same thing. It is the divine luminous latifa lodged in this dark physical vessel. Its names vary according to its different states and stages. An example of that is the rain which falls to the roots of a tree and rises in its branches and so leaves appear and then blossoms and then flowers and then the fruits which grow until it is complete. The water is the same, but its names vary according to its different stages. That is like what as-Sahili said in al-Bughya and I wrote about it in a qasida which I mentioned elsewhere.
According to this, the heart confronting the nafs in battle is an allusion to the difficulty of the ruh moving from the land of darkness, which is the place of the nafs, to the land of light, which is the heart, and what is beyond it. The heart fights it in order to move it to its source. It does not want to go and sinks to the earth of humanity and its appetites. The heart has the lights of the waridat to support it and help it so that it can ascend to the Presence which is its source and where its homeland lies. It is as if the lights were its armies since they strengthen it and help it against the darkness of the nafs. These lights are the waridat which were already mentioned.
When the nafs relies on appetites and they take control of it, it is as if they had become its army. They are darkness since they veil it from the truth and prevent it from witnessing the suns of gnosis. When the self uses the armies of its darkness and appetites to embark on disobedience or appetite, then the heart moves against it with the armies of its light and there is a battle between them. When Allah desires concern and assistance for His slave, He reinforces him with the armies of lights and cuts off from the nafs the reinforcements of otherness. So light overcomes darkness and the nafs retreats in defeat. When Allah desires to disappoint His slave, He reinforces the nafs with otherness and cuts off the shining of lights from the heart. So the heart is victorious by the business as it should properly be, and is disappointed when things are the opposite.
Shaykh Zarruq said, "Light has three reinforcements. The first of them is certainty which is not sullied by doubt. The second is knowledge which is accompanied by insight and clarification. The third is inspiration which prepares for eye-witnessing. Darkness has three reinforcements. The first is the weak certainty, the second is ignorance predominating in the nafs, and the third is compassion for the nafs. The basis of all of that is being content with the nafs and or not being content with it. Its manifestation has three levels: acts of disobedience, appetites and heedlessness. Their opposites were mentioned in Chapter Three, so understand."
So light is the army of the heart because it is discloses the realities of things and so the truth can be distinguished from falsehood, and "He might verify the truth and nullify the false". (8:8) So the heart is helped in its advance to the Truth with a clear intention, and the nafs with the army of its darkness is defeated since darkness does not remain when light is clear, as he indicated:
The inner eye judges.
The heart both advances and retreats.
The business of light is to unveil things and make them clear so that their beauty is clear from their ugliness, Part of the business of the opened inner eye is to judge beauty as beautiful and ugliness as ugly. The heart advances to what is confirmed as beautiful and retreats from what is confirmed as ugly. You could say, it accepts that which will benefit it and retreats from that which will harm it. The metaphor for all that is when a man enters a dark house in which there are scorpions and snakes and ingots of gold and silver. He does not know what to take and what to leave, nor what will benefit him from what will harm him. When he brings a lamp into it, he can see what will benefit him and what will harm him, and what is safe for him and what he should beware of.
It is the same for the heart of the disobedient believer. He does not distinguish between the bitterness of disobedience and the sweetness of obedience. When he is illuminated by the light of taqwa he recognises what will harm him and what will benefit him, and can distinguish between the truth and the false. Allah Almighty says, "O you who believe, if you have taqwa of Allah, He will give you a discrimination," (8:29) i.e. a light by which you can distinguish between the truth and false. Allah Almighty says, "Is someone who was dead and whom We brought to life, supplying him with a light by which he walks among peopleÉ" (6:123) and He says, "Is he whose breast is opened to Islam and who is therefore illuminated by his LordÉ" (39:21)
This light which unveils things is the light of the waridat which are the mounts which bear the hearts to the Knower of the unseen worlds. The first is the warid of awakening whose business is to dispel the darkness of heedlessness, and then the light of certainty appears and so the inner eye judges heedlessness to be ugly and wakefulness to be good. The heart then advances to remembrance of its Lord and retreats from what would make it heedless to its Lord. This is the light of the seekers.
The second is the light of the advance whose business is to dispel the darkness of others. The radiance of gnoses and secrets appears and so the inner eye judges others to be harmful and secrets to be good. The heart then advances to the radiance of the secrets and retreats from the darkness of others. This is the light of the travellers.
The third is the light of the warid of arrival whose business is to dispel the darkness of phenomenal being and the cloak of preservation (sawn). Then the light of the tajalliyat of the Maker of being appears and the heart advances to witnessing its Master and retreats from turning to other than Him. This is the light of those who arrive. It is the light of the face-to-face encounter. The light of what is before it is the light of directing oneself.
If you wish, you could say that it is the light of Islam, iman and ihsan. The light of Islam dispels the darkness of disbelief and disobedience and the light of submission and compliance appears and the inner eye judges kufr and disobedience to be ugly and the light of Islam and submission to be good. So the heart advances to obeying its Lord and turning away from what will put him far from his Lord. The light of faith (iman) dispels hidden shirk and so the radiance of sincerity and faithful truthfulness appears. Therefore the inner eye judges shirk to be ugly and harmful and sincerity and its good to be beautiful. So the heart advances to the tawhid of his Lord and turns from shirk and its evil. The light of ihsan dispels the darkness of other and so the light of the existence of Master appears, and the inner eye judges the darkness of secondary effects to be ugly and the light of the One who effects to be good. So the heart advances to gnosis of its Master and withdraws completely from other than Him.
If you wish, you could say that this is the light of the Shari'a, the Tariqa and the reality. The light of the Shari'a dispels the darkness of idleness and falling short, so the light of striving and resolve appears and the inner eye judges idleness to be bad and striving to be good. So the heart advances to the striving of the limbs in the obedience of its Lord and retreats from following its portions and passion. The light of Tariqa dispels the darkness of evils and faults, and the radiance of purity appears and its fruits from the knowledge of the unseen and so the inner eye judges that faults are ugly and that purity and the knowledge of the unseen is good. So the heart advances to what purification demands and retreats from what prevents it in divestment and adornment. The light of the reality dispels the darkness of the veil and the beauties of the lovers appear to him. You could also say the light of the reality dispels the darkness of beings so that the light of witnessing and eye-witnessing appear and the heart advances to witnessing lovers inside the veil and retreats from what cuts it off from adab with lovers. May Allah make us among them forever in this abode and in the Abode of Peace! Amen.
Since the basis of every light, secret and good is obedience of Allah and the root of every darkness, veil and distance is disobedience of Allah. One of the signs of the light of the heart is its joy in obedience and its sorrow for disobedience, the Shaykh informs you of the meaning of delight in obedience, which is the reason of the light of the hearts and the keys to the Unseen.
Don't be overjoyed at obedience because it has issued from you.
Rejoice in it because it has come from Allah to you.
"Say: It is the favour of Allah and His mercy that should
be the cause of their rejoicing.
That is better than anything they accumulate.'"
The hadith was already quoted: "Whoever is delighted by his good actions and grieved by his evil actions is a believer." People fall into three categories in rejoicing in obedience. One group rejoice in them because they hope that they will bring them bliss and avert from them His painful punishment. They see that they issue from themselves for themselves and so they are not free of their strength and power in them. They are the people of His words, "You alone we worship."
Another group rejoice in them since they are the sign of pleasure and acceptance and a reason for nearness and arrival. They are gifts from the Generous King and mounts which carry them to the presence of bliss. They do not think that they themselves possess either action or non-action nor power nor strength. They think that they are conveyed by pre-eternal power and directed by the primal will. They are the people of His words, "You alone we ask for help." The worship of the people of the first category is for Allah and the worship of the people of the second category is for Allah and by the power of Allah. There is a great difference between them.
A third group rejoice in Allah rather than anything else, and are annihilated to themselves, going on by their Lord. If obedience appears from them, it is a favour they owe Allah. If an act of disobedience appears from them, they apologise to Allah, showing adab with Allah. It does not diminish their joy if an error appears from them nor does it increase if an act of obedience or wakefulness appears them because they are by Allah and for Allah. They are the people of 'there is no strength nor power except by Allah'. They are the gnostics of Allah.
O murid, if obedience and good appear from you, do not rejoice in it since it issued from you. If you do so, you will be guilty of association (shirk) with your Lord. Allah has no need of you and your obedience and He has no need of the one who obeys other than Him. The Almighty says, "Whoever does jihad does it entirely for himself. Allah is Rich Beyond Need of any being." (29:5) The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, relating from his Almighty Lord, "O My slaves! If the first and last of you, all the jinn and all the men among you, possessed the heart of the most godfearing man among you, that would not increase My kingdom in any way." Rejoice in it since it is a gift from Allah to you indicating that you have obtained His generosity, favour and kindness.
So joy is in the bounty of Allah and His mercy. The Almighty says, "Say: 'It is the favour of Allah and His mercy that should be the cause of their rejoicing.'" (10:58) So the favour of Allah is His guidance and granting of success, and his mercy is His selection, and bringing them near. It is said that the favour of Allah is Islam and His mercy is the Qur'an. It is said that the favour of Allah is the guidance of the deen and His mercy is the bliss of the Garden. It is said that the favour of Allah is the tawhid of the evidence and the proof and His mercy is the tawhid of witnessing and eye-witnessing. Other things are said, and Allah knows best.
Since joy at obedience might give rise to the illusion that it is a branch of seeing it and looking at it, he removed that when he said:
He prevents those who are travelling to Him and those who have reached Him -
from seeing their actions and witnessing their states.
The travellers -
because they have not made sincerity with Allah in them a fact.
Those who have arrived -
because when they see Him,
He makes them oblivious to seeing their actions.
"Prevents" here means "makes withdraw". If it is interpreted, then it is more evident and easier as indicating being cut off from misfortune. Using the term (qat', cutting off) implies a sort of diminishment which would not be the case if he had said, "He made those who are travelling to Him and those who have reached Him withdraw from seeing their existence."
As for those travelling, it is because they have not made sincerity with Allah in them a face, and as for those who arrived, it is because they do not witness other-than-Allah with Allah, i.e. Allah has made those travelling to Him and those who have reached Him withdraw from seeing their outward actions and witnessing their inward states. As for those travelling, it is because they always suspect themselves. Whenever some good action issues for them, or wakefulness or some ecstasy appears to them, they see that they have enormous shortcomings and imperfections and therefore they are too ashamed before Allah to rely on themselves or to give themselves any credit. They therefore withdraw from their actions and states and rely on the bounty of their Lord.
So truthfulness is the core and secret of sincerity, i.e. they have made the secret of sincerity a reality in them and so they do not see their actions nor rely on them. One of the gnostics was asked, "What is the sign of the acceptance of action?" His reply was, "Your forgetting it and cutting of your seeing it on the basis of the evidence of the words of Allah, 'All good words rise to Him and He raises up all virtuous deeds.' (35:20)" Zayn al-'Abidin said, "If you still see any of your actions, that is evidence that it is not accepted because accepted actions are raised up and are withdrawn from you and you are prevented from seeing them. That is the evidence of acceptance."
As for those who have arrived, it is because they are annihilated to themselves, withdrawn in witnessing the One they worship. So all their movements and stillnesses are by Allah and from Allah and to Allah since it is impossible to witness Him and witness other than Him with Him. When an act of obedience occurs from them or issues from them, they witness the One, the Gracious in that.
It is related that when al-Wasiti went to Nishapur, he asked the companions of Abu 'Uthman, "What did you Shaykh command you?" They replied, "He commanded us to cling to obedience and to see our incapacity in it." He said, "He has commanded you to pure Magianism! Did he not command you to withdraw from them by witnessing the One who made them occur and originated them?" Al-Qushayri said, "He meant to protect them from pride and to guide them to adab."
So the pronoun in "He prevents" refers to Allah Almighty. Know that the travellers in the words of the shaykh are the second category who rejoice in obedience since it is a sign of acceptance and they must be delighted to see it since it is a sign of acceptance. there should be no delight in seeing them themselves since they may delight in them since they are a favour from Allah and cease to see them since he relies on Allah. Here those who have reached Him form the third category who only rejoice in Allah and nothing other than Him. Allah knows best.
This is the end of Chapter Six and a quarter of the book. In short, it deals with the treatment of hearts, the sign of their death, illness and soundness, the reinforcement of their lights and the arrival of their waridat so that they withdraw from witnessing their stations and states and are annihilated to the domain of the senses by the expanse of the open space of witnessing. That is where their honour and might lie. Their abasement and humiliation lie in the opposite of that, which is seeing creatures and relying on them.
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