Futuh al-Ghaib - 17

Seventeenth Discourse from Futuh al-Ghaib

On how the contact [wusul] with Allah is attained

 The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment) said:

When you attain the contact with Allah and get close to Him through His attraction and His helpful guidance–what is meant by attaining the contact with Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) is that you make your exit from the sphere of creation, from passion and will and desire, and become securely linked to His action, so that no movement of yours affects either you or His creation unless by His decree, at His command and through His action this is the state of annihilation [fana'], which is another term for that contact. But attaining to the contact with Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) is not like what we ordinarily understand by making contact with one of His creatures.

There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (42:11)

The Creator is far above comparison with His creatures or analogy with His artifacts. When someone attains to the contact with Him (Almighty and Glorious is He), that person becomes known, through His introduction, to others who have already experienced the contact. In each case the experience is unique and peculiar to the individual concerned.

With each of His Messengers, Prophets and Saints, Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) shares a secret to which no one else is privy. It may even be that a pupil holds a secret with which his Shaikh is not acquainted, just as the Shaikh may hold a secret unknown to a pupil whose progress has brought him to the very threshold of his Shaikh's spiritual state.

When the pupil does reach the spiritual state of his Shaikh, he is separated from the Shaikh and his connection with him is severed. The Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) becomes his guardian, and weans him from creatures altogether. The Shaikh is therefore like a wet nurse. Just as the foster-mother's suckling does not continue beyond two years, dependence on creatures does not outlast the cessation of passion and self-will. The Shaikh is needed as long as passion and self-will are still there to be broken, but not after these have been eradicated, leaving no stain or blemish.

When you have attained to the contact with the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) in the way we have explained, you must always feel safe from whatever is besides Him, for you will not see anything other than Him as having any existence at all. Whether in loss or in profit, in giving or withholding, in fear or in hope, you will see only Him (Almighty and Glorious is He), who is worthy of pious devotion and deserves to be begged for forgiveness. You must therefore be ever alert to His action, ready for His command, employed in His obedient service, aloof from all worldly or otherworldly beings of His creation. Do not attach your heart to any kind of creature.

Regard the entire created universe as a man who has been clapped in irons by a ruler of vast authority and stern command, of terrifying might and power. He has had the man shackled by the neck and legs, then crucified him on a cedar tree on the bank of a very turbulent river, of great width and depth and with a rapid current. Now the ruler is seated on his colossal throne, which towers high beyond reach. Stacked by his side are piles of darts, spears, bows and arrows and all sorts of weapons, in quantities that only he could estimate. He starts pelting the crucified victim with anything he fancies from that arsenal ... Well, let me ask you: Would it make good sense for a person witnessing all this to stop paying attention to the ruler as the focus of his fears and hopes, and to direct his attention, with all his fears and hopes, toward the crucified victim instead? Surely the sensible verdict on someone who acted like that would be to call him mentally deficient, idiotic, crazy, more animal than human?

We seek refuge with Allah from blindness after sight, from separation after contact, from alienation after closeness and proximity, from error after guidance, and from unbelief after true faith.

This world is like the great swift-flowing river referred to above. Each day it carries more water, symbolic of the carnal appetites of mankind, their indulgence of those appetites, and the disasters that befall them in consequence. As for the arrows and assorted weapons, these represent the trials that destiny brings their way. For the most part, what human beings experience in this world is a series of misfortunes and woes, sufferings and adversities. Any comforts and pleasures they happen to find there are subject to pernicious contaminants.

The lesson drawn from this by any intelligent observer must be that he has no real life or relaxation except in the hereafter–provided he is a believer [mu'min], for this applies exclusively to believers. As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: "There is no life except the life of the hereafter." He also said: "There is no comfort for the believer this side of meeting his Lord." This has relevance for believers, like another saying of his (Allah bless him and give him peace): "This world is the believer's prison and the unbeliever's paradise." He also said: "The virtuous man is bridled."

In the light of all these traditions and our own direct experience, how can a case be made in favor of life in this world? The only true comfort lies in exclusive contact with Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), in being in harmony with Him, and in casting oneself down in absolute surrender before Him. This is how the servant can find freedom from this world, to bask thenceforth in compassion and mercy, kindness and charity and gracious favor.

Only Allah is All-Knowing!


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