Malfuzat - 5

On connections [awsil]


Become connected [ittasil], then become disconnected [infasil], then make connections [awsil]. "Complete your studies, then retire [tafaqqah thumma ' 'tazil]." If someone tries to worship Allah in a state of ignorance, he will do more harm than good. You must take along with you the lantern of your Lord's sacred law [shar']. By the light of the law [hukm], you will enter into the domain of knowledge ['ilm].

Stop depending on material means [asbab]. Part company with brethren and neighbors. As for the shares allotted by destiny [aqsam], it serves no purpose to abstain from them. Present your back to your wife. Present the allotted shares with your back. Act like an ascetic [tazahhad], then practice abstinence [zuhd] in earnest. Practice renunciation [i'rad] in earnest. Give up your greedy appetite. Refine your behavior. You must be detached from everything apart from Him, dissociated from other creatures and from material means, always afraid that your lamp may go out and leave you permanently in the dark. While one is in this state, lo and behold, along comes the Lord of Truth with the oil of His providence to fuel your lamp. Your light is within your knowledge. [To quote two sayings of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace):]

If someone puts into practice the knowledge he has already acquired, Allah will endow him with knowledge of what he does not know.

If someone devotes himself sincerely [akhlasa] to Allah for forty mornings, the fountains of wisdom [hikma] will gush forth from his heart onto his tongue.

While he is in this state, he will suddenly see the fire of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). Just like Moses (peace be upon him) at the moment when he saw a fire, he will say to his household:

Stay here awhile. I notice a fire. (28:29)

The Lord of Truth will summon him by means of His fire. He will cause the fire to represent His nearness, and He will cause his vision of it to be his guide. When he sees a fire burning in the bush of his heart, he will say [to his household]: "Stay here awhile, right where you are now. I notice a fire." The innermost being [sirr] will call out to the heart:

I am indeed your Lord. (20:12)

I am Allah..., so worship Me. (20:14)

[In other words:] "Do not submit yourself to anyone but Me. Acknowledge Me and ignore all others. Become connected to Me and disconnected from everything apart from Me. Seek Me and turn away from all others, toward My knowledge ['ilm], toward My nearness, toward My kingdom, toward My dominion."

When you experience this completely, the meeting will finally take place. Whatever is meant to happen will happen.

And He revealed to His servant that which He revealed. (53:10)

The veils will be removed. Trouble and confusion will disappear. The lower self [nafs] will become calm. Peace [sukun] will arrive. The gifts of grace [altaf] will arrive.

Go to Pharaoh! (20:24)

"O heart, you must go back to the devil [shaitan], the lower self [nafs] and the passions [hawa]. Set them on the path to Me. Guide them to Me. Say to them:

O my people! Follow me. I will guide you to the way of right conduct. (40:38)

Become connected, then become disconnected, then become connected, then make connections [ittasil thumma 'nqati' thumma 'ttasil thumma awsil].

As for you, O miserable wretch, your strength and energy will soon run out and leave you in the lurch. Your bosom friends will have nothing more to do with you. You will experience the combination of poverty in this world and punishment in the hereafter. The grave will come and squeeze you so tight that one set of ribs is crushed against the other, rendering you incapable of responding to the questions posed by [the two interrogating angels] Munkar and Nakir. You will suffer agony in your grave, then a doorway to the Fire [of Hell] will be opened up for you, to let you be exposed to its torment and its toxic fumes.

O people of ours! Conduct yourselves properly in this abode [of the present life], so that your religion [din], your outer [zahir] and your inner [batin] may be kept safe and sound until you are made to stand before Him at the Resurrection. When that moment comes, the veil will be removed from your eyes, from your mouth and from your ears, and He will feed you and make you grow from strength to strength, from insight to insight, from life to life, from perpetuity to perpetuity, from blessing to blessing. He will commend your hard work and praise your good conduct. He will call you grateful [shakir] after He has called you patient [sabir], sensible ['aqil] and devout [dayyin]. He will cause you to experience further transformation.

Allah does not change what is in a people, until they change what is in themselves. (13:11)

Bad character is something they must change by following the sacred law [shar'], then knowledge ['ilm], then the decree of destiny [qadar].

It is as if they had been anesthetized [bunniju] in readiness for the amputation of their hands and feet, for the amputation of their rotten, gangrenous limbs. There is no movement, no asking about the whys and wherefores. All consciousness, all human consciousness is lost, until the days of anesthesia [tabannuj] are over and consciousness returns to them. Then come the gracious favors of their Lord, to bring about transformation and further transformation. There is food to eat after hunger, something to drink after thirst, clothing to wear after nakedness.

As long as you are still following the path, He will command you to make do with very little, so that your carnal appetite [shahwa] may lose its intensity. You must give this ruling [hukm] its due, as you must be careful to observe all the commandments and prohibitions of the sacred law [shar'].

These days will come to an end, and your steps will draw near to the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) with the passing of the night and the coming of the day. They [meaning people who follow the spiritual path] are grouped in various categories: There are some for whom the entire journey takes only a day, while for others it may take a month or even several years. Instead of wasting your time on the whys and the wherefores and on speculating about the future, you should pull yourself together, get moving and get down to work.

If you labor in His palace, perhaps He will take you on as a permanent member of the staff. Maybe one of His slave girls will fall in love with you and you will marry her. Your outward appearance will be transformed. [Those laborer's tools of yours,] your basket made of palm leaves and your hoe can be sold off. You will be installed as a manager, a royal deputy and minister [wazir]. When someone really knows ['arafa] Allah, he does not regard such things as being too much to ask of Him. Once you have attained to Him, He will whet your appetite. Abstinence and renunciation are appropriate before direct experience [ma'rifa], before you attain to the King, before you know who you really are [qabla an ta'rifa man anta], what your title [laqab] is and what your name [ism] is.

The servant says goodbye to his worldly goods, to his clothes, his furniture, his home, his family, his children, his neighbors, his wife and his closest friends. He puts one foot forward and drags the other. With two steps, fear and hope, he moves away from the past. Nothing is familiar to him, for he is leaving everything behind, not knowing what he can expect or what may be expected of him. Then, once he has left everything behind, he arrives at the door of the King. There he stands in the company of His attendants, along with His riding animals, feeling both fear and hope, not knowing what may be in store for him. Meanwhile the King, who is watching him and has been informed about him, says to the attendants: "Give him special treatment, ahead of all the rest!" Then he gets to be employed in one post after another, until he is installed as a chamberlain [hajib] in His presence, as a special confidant who is privy to His secrets, invested with a robe of honor, with neckband, waistband and crown. Now he can write to tell his family:

Come to me with all your folk. (12:93)

After the King has called Himself as witness to His promise: "I shall not change toward you," he has a guarantee of constant companionship and friendship [wilaya], since abstinence [zuhd] cannot coexist with intimate knowledge [ma'rifa].

A case like this is one in a million. This is something that comes about as a result of divine destiny [qadar], preordainment [sabiqa] and foreknowledge ['ilm].

Do not be one of those concerning whom Allah has said:

No, I swear by the censorious self [bi'n-nafsi'l-lawwama]. (75:2)

The believer [mu'min] must ask, as a way of calling himself to account and improving his behavior: "What did I intend by saying what I said? What did I intend by taking the step I took? What did I intend by eating what I ate? Why did I act as I did? Why did I do it? Is this in accordance with the Book and the Sunna?"

You must acquire certitude [yaqin] after self-examination [muhasaba], for it is the kernel [lubb] of faith [iman]. Only with certitude can the obligatory religious duties [fara'id] be properly discharged. Only with certitude can one put this world in its proper place.

When you receive a response to your supplication [du'a'], calm and composure, but if your prayer [da'wa] is not answered, you get upset! One of the distinguishing features of the champions of truth [siddiqun] is that they resort to Allah in every case. When they wish to conceal their spiritual states [ahwal], they may resort to the give and take of dealing with creatures, but their hearts remain with Him while their bodies are in the company of His creatures. The human being [ibn Adam] needs to work in this world, in order to transform his natural tendencies [tab']. He must struggle against his lower self [nafs], his devil [shaitan] and his passions [hawa], in order to move beyond the attributes of the animals [sifat al-baha'im] and acquire human characteristics [akhlaq insaniyya].

Do you disbelieve [kafarta] in this Lord,

Who created you from dust, then from a sperm, then shaped you as a man? (18:37)

Does He deserve as His recompense that you should deny Him and repudiate Him, that you should feel embarrassed to be seen by the eyes of other people, yet feel no sense of shame before Him, although He can always see you?

O you who make no secret of your claim to saintship [wilaya], while committing blatant sins of disobedience against the Lord of Truth! Do you feel no sense of shame before Him, when He is well aware of your innermost being [sirr] and your conscience [sarira] ? And you there, you who make a display of poverty while concealing your wealth, are you not ashamed to be trading your religion [din] for your worldly interests?

Whatever blessing you enjoy, it is from Allah. (16:53)

Where is your gratitude?

O young man! Do not accuse anyone on behalf of your Creator. You are just as likely to be mistaken as you are to be correct [in what you suspect about another person]. Do not present other people in a bad light, in order to have Him approve of your own conduct. It is up to the sacred law [shar'], not our own minds, to determine whether a favorable or an unfavorable view should be taken. This is in relation to the outer [zahir]. You must also be careful to recognize cases where it is up to the inner [batin] to determine whether something merits disapproval or approval. The verdict [fatwa] of the heart can overrule the verdict of the jurist [faqih], because the jurist arrives at his verdict through some exercise of his ijtihad, whereas the heart always bases its judgment on what is strictly correct ['azima], on that which is pleasing to the Lord of Truth and in compliance with His wishes. This is the judgment [qada'] of knowledge ['ilm] over the legal ruling [hukm].

You must be servants of the law [hukm], then servants of knowledge ['ilm] while remaining in servitude to the law, in the sense that you must conform to it in humble compliance. You must enter along with knowledge into the company of the law. Any "matter of fact" [haqiqa] that is not acknowledged by the sacred law [shari'a] is an atheistic heresy [zandaqa].

When you enter into the company of the people of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), you will experience what they experience and share the food they eat.

You must express your gratitude to Allah (Exalted is He) in secret and in private.

O people of this city, everything you are involved in is repugnant in my sight, just as everything I am involved in is repugnant in your eyes. We are opposites that cannot be reconciled. We manage to live amongst you thanks to the power of the Owner of the heavens, but there is no no permanent residence here for the joy of our hearts.

Your youth has been spent in ways displeasing to the Creator (Almighty and Glorious is He). You are eager to please your wife, your children, your neighbor and your worldly ruler [sultan], yet you earn the displeasure of the angels [mala'ika] and the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), although:

...unto Him is the homeward journey [ilaihi'l-masir]. (5:18)

You are bound to answer the call of death. You will meet up with your fathers and mothers, brethren, friends and rulers. Let none of you ask: "When will the Resurrection take place?" For when you die you will experience your own Resurrection [qiyama].

The saints [awliya'] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) are already there in the nearness of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). They have lived their lives in a close relationship with the Lord of Truth. They have died many deaths: first of all to that which is unlawful [haram], secondly to that which is dubious [shubha], thirdly to that which is indifferently permissible [mubah], fourthly to that which is unambiguously lawful [halal tilq], and fifthly to everything apart from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). They are dead to all these things; they neither seek them nor come anywhere near them. They appear to have undergone a transmutation, turning them into inner contents [ma'ani] with no outer forms [suwar]. Then Allah (Exalted is He) revives them.

In the Name of Allah shall be its course and its mooring. (11:41)

When hearts are following a course that takes them across the oceans of destiny [qadar], their mooring is at the door of His knowledge ['ilm] and His nearness.

Wakefulness is a form of service, while sleep is a means of connection [wusla]. When the servant falls asleep during a ritual prayer [salat], Allah displays him proudly to His angels. The physical body is a cage and the spirit [ruh] is a bird.

In the eyes of the people of real experience [ma'rifa], creatures are like flies and hornets, or like silkworms. Their spiritual states [ahwal] have no relevance for you.

Be sensible! No one but a stupid fool would bring destruction upon himself to spite Allah; no one would do such a thing unless he was doomed to destruction anyway.

If someone tells you to be generous in spending and giving, that person is your friend. If someone gets rich on what belongs to the poor, he will be reduced to poverty because of it.

More is required of you than merely professing Islam. When will you put the truth into practice? When will you act on the truth?

When my limbs move, you should realize that my heart is aflame.

O world here below [ya dunya], taste bitter to My saints [awliya'] at the outset, so that they will not love you, but serve them later on, so that they will not be preoccupied with you.

When the Hour [of Resurrection] was mentioned in the hearing of Mary's son Jesus (peace be upon him), he would wail like a woman bereaved of her child, saying: "It is not fitting for the son of Adam to stay calm when the Hour [as-sa'a] is mentioned in his hearing." You are a nonentity. You have no feeling in you. You have never loved or been loved. He grieved over the length of his sojourn in this world, because it made him afraid of the fickleness of human beings, dependence on creatures, and separation from the All-Merciful [ar-Rahman] because of the dominating influence of the passions [hawa], the lower self [nafs], the natural impulses [tab'] and the devil [shaitan]. Anyone who feels secure in this world must be mightily ignorant indeed.

O young man! I am reassured, whatever may happen. I am made to feel afraid, whatever may happen. By my life, He draws you near and brings you close, He speaks to you, He feeds you and nourishes you, He watches over you, He opens doors for you, He seats you at the table of His gracious favor and His nearness, He puts you at your ease, but He still requires you to experience grief.


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