Jala' al-Khawatir - Removal of Cares

The Thirty-Eighth Discourse

The people [of the Lord] have given up the toil [taraku 'l-'amal], saying: "Everything apart from Him is merely stuffing and a shell." They have set out in quest of the kernel [lubb]. They have clung to it with persistent dedication, and have found it so completely satisfying that they can do without the shell. They are so content with Allah that nothing else is indispensable. There is no dispensing with the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), while everything apart from Him can be dispensed with. He has recognized the genuine sincerity [sidq] of their quest. He has granted them amnesty and well-being [al-'afw wa 'l-'afiya] and nearness to Him.

Over there, protection belongs only to Allah, the True. (18:44)

A heart that feels no fear of Him is like a piece of land on which there are no trees, or a flock of sheep without a shepherd. That land will soon become a desert waste, and those sheep will soon be eaten by the wolves. When someone is afraid, he travels under the cover of night. He does not settle in one place, but is always traveling on toward his final destination. The journey of the people [of the Lord] is toward the palace of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). The traveling is the traveling of their hearts, and the arrival is the arrival of their innermost beings [asrar]. When the innermost beings have arrived, they become kings, while the limbs and organs of the body become steadfast attendants. When the heart arrives at the door, it will ask permission for the innermost being to be admitted inside, so the innermost being will enter and then the heart will go in after it.

How great and varied is your knowledge ['ulum], yet how few are your practical deeds [a'mal] ! You have turned your endowment [hazz] of knowledge into a memory bank [hifz], while tales and stories have proliferated. How can you hope to benefit from this? Here we have someone who carefully memorizes a certain hadith [tradition of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)], yet he does not put a single letter of it into practice! This will count as evidence against you [on the Day of Judgment], not as evidence in your favor.

You go around saying: "My shaikh is so-and-so. I have been a disciple of so-and-so. I have attended the lectures of so-and-so. I once said to the learned scholar so-and-so...." All of this, without any practical action, does not amount to a thing. If a person is truly sincere [sadiq], he will put the truth into practice. He will say farewell to the shaikhs and take his leave of them, indicating to them as he goes: "Stay there in your normal surroundings, while I move on to explore those places to which you have shown me the way." The shaikhs are a door, but it is not appropriate to cling to the door and never to enter the house.

And Allah coins parables for mankind [in order that they may reflect]. (14:25)

Suppose you notice the hardness of a person's heart, the frozen look in his eye, the far reach of his expectation, his stinginess with what he has in his possession, his disdainful attitude toward the commandments and prohibitions [of the sacred law], and his bitter expression of resentment whenever misfortunes come his way. If you should ever observe someone who matches this description, you need to be aware that he is in very serious trouble. The core of a heart so hard can never feel compassion, and his eyes will never turn moist with tears in a moment of joy or a moment of happiness, because the frozen condition of his eye is due to the hardness of his heart. How could his heart be anything but hard, when he is filled with an ardent desire to commit sins and wrongful acts, with exaggerated expectations, with a greedy longing for things that are not destined to belong to him, and with a feeling of envy toward their rightful owners? How could that heart of his be anything but hard, when he is too stingy to pay the alms-due [zakat] prescribed by the sacred law [mafruda], when he does not produce the offerings that must be made in order to obtain expiation [kaffarat], when he does not fulfill his vows [nudhur], when he does not attend to the needs of his close relatives, when he does not settle his debts in spite of his ability to do so, but makes his creditors wait indefinitely so that he can evade repayment altogether, and when he hates giving anything extra, even more than he hates giving that which is due? All of these characteristics, and others of similar nature, are symptomatic of serious spiritual disorder [shaqa'].

As Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said:

Is not the time now ripe for the hearts of those who believe to be humbled to the Remembrance of Allah and to the Truth which He has sent down? (57:16)

You must not get into arguments with Him on the subject of His decree [qadar]. You must make serious efforts and exert yourselves with diligence. You must stick to your commitment and continue to pursue your goal. You must offer earnest entreaties. You must weep and plead for intercession. You must humble yourselves. You must be steadfast in holding your ground by the door. You must not run away.

All matters of concern are at the disposal of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). He is the One who alerts us and puts us on our guard. He is the One who makes us wakeful, and He is the One who lulls us to sleep. When our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) heard the summons of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He):

O you enveloped in your cloak, arise, and warn! (74:1,2)

--he got up from his bed and went forth to answer the call. This is how we should always hear and respond to the summons of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), as we wander in search of Him and yearn to find Him. This is how Allah (Exalted is He) awakens our hearts to the duties they must perform. When He wants you to carry out some task, He will equip you for it. This is an esoteric mystery [sirr batin], for it concerns the decree of destiny [qadar], preordination [sabiqa] and foreknowledge ['ilm]. It is not permissible for us to rest our case on this, and we are not allowed to use it as a pretext for inaction. Not in the least!

We must make strenuous efforts and exert ourselves with diligence. We must dare to be enterprising, even though we have no guarantee.

O Allah, let us be content with Your decree. Let us be patient in the face of Your affliction. Let us distribute our gratitude for Your blessings. We beg You to grant us the fullness of grace, the permanence of well-being, and the constancy of love.

Ibrahim ibn Ad'ham (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) is reported as having said: "I wept one night from the first part of the night until the last part of it. All that time I was offering various prayers of supplication [du'a'] to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), and all the while I was shedding tears. But just when the dawn was almost on the point of breaking, my eyelids drooped. Then, in my sleep, I saw Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). 'O Ibrahim,' said He, 'it would be better for you to offer Me your prayer of supplication in these words: "O Allah, let me be content with Your decree. Let me be patient in the face of Your affliction. Let me distribute my gratitude for Your blessings. I beg You to grant me the fullness of grace, the permanence of well-being, and the constancy of love."' Then I woke up, to find myself repeating those very words!"

The servant [of the Lord] who makes his servitude a reality [al-muhaqqiq li'l-'ubudiyya] is the one who is completely satisfied with Him to the exclusion of His creatures. This servant owes his salvation from the condition of other servants to His Prophet (may Allah bless him and his family and give them peace, and upon all the other Prophets be the blessings and peace of Allah). He is no longer in need of anything; it is rather the case that things are in need of him. The people [of the Lord] seek nothing from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), other than Allah Himself. The are seeking the Benefactor [Mun'im], not the benefit [ni'ma]. They are seeking the Creator [Khaliq], not the product of creation [makhluq]. They have run away from food and drink and clothes, from marriage and from all the goods and chattels of this world. They have run away to Him from all of this, so how could they be serving Him for the sake of such things? How could they be seeking such things from Him?

They do not serve Him for the sake of obtaining fodder ['alaf] to feed their lower selves [nufus]. They do not serve Him for the sake of enjoying access to the mansion where guests are entertained [dar ad-diyafa]. They say: "We do not feel the need for human sympathy [rahma]. You may wish for human sympathy, but all we want is to be alone with the Beloved [Mahbub], without regard for sympathy. There is no room for any partner [sharik]."

O seeker [murid], you are merely simulating love [mahabba]. The lover is the guest of the beloved [al-muhibb daif al-mahbub]. Did you ever see a guest having to bestir himself in order to obtain his food and drink and his other essential needs? You are merely simulating love. You go to sleep, but the lover never sleeps. There are only two possible cases: you must be either a lover or one who is loved. If you are a lover, well, how can the lover fall asleep? But if you are a loved one, well, in that case the lover is your guest. O you who lay claim to that which you do not possess, the time will surely come, sooner or later, when you must learn about the penalty for making that unsubstantiated claim of yours!

O learned scholars ['ulama'], the acquisition of knowledge ['ilm] is not an end in itself. The desired object is the fruit of knowledge. What is the use of the tree if it does not bear fruit? What is the use of knowledge unless it is acted upon and put into practice with sincerity [ikhlas]? There is no point in acquiring knowledge of the Book and the Sunna, except for the purpose of putting them into practice. How could one derive any benefit from them, except through putting them into practice? The workman gets his wages, but only after he has done his work and labored at the job.

There is nothing really worth talking about until you come home from the journey through this world, the realm of physical existence [wujud] and the created universe [khalq]. Once you have reached your destination, all will be clarified, revealed and explained.

As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

Observe your duty to Allah. Allah will teach you. (2:282)

--and as Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has also said:

And whoever is dutiful toward Allah, He prepares a way out for him, and provides for him from sources he could never imagine. (65:2,3)

Devotion to one's religious duty [taqwa] is the foundation of all that is good; it is a source of worldly benefit, a source of wisdom [hikma] and all kinds of knowledge ['ulum], of purity of heart, and of many secrets. You must observe your duty toward Him, and be patient with Him. Patience [sabr] is the head of both religion and the worldly life [ra's ad-din wa 'd-dunya], while active work ['amal] is their body. This is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:

Patience is to faith as the head is to the body.

It is only through patience under the decree of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) that deeds can be truly accomplished. You must be patient. You must be steadfast. You must practice pious restraint. It is incumbent upon you to practice pious restraint [wara'] both in your private lives and in your public activities. It is also incumbent upon you to make a practice of abstinent detachment [zuhd] from allotted shares [aqsam] that are destined to come your way, and of indifference toward the allotted shares of other people.

How long will you go on squandering your religion for the sake of worldly status, for the sake of amassing commercial tokens [ghallat] and gold coins [dananir], clothes, houses, jewels, horses and servants? All of this stems from idle fantasy. These things will soon be separated from you. You must turn again to your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). Turn right around and you will prosper! Abandon this folly, this confusion and craziness! Why should you take such trouble to accumulate things, when you will have to leave them behind for others to inherit, and when you alone will be called to account for them at the Reckoning? Of all that you accumulate, not a single atom is really useful to you. You will gain nothing from all that you possess, except the burden of explaining how you came by it, accounting for it, being punished for it, losing it and regretting it. What is the matter with you? Why don't you buy some common sense from me? Come here to me! Sit here in front of me and listen to the good advice I have to offer you. I am well aware of that which you fail to recognize, and I can see things that belong to the hereafter, things that you cannot see.

Woe unto you! Righteous deeds are those that will keep the torment away from you in your graves. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported as having said:

When the believer [mu 'min] is left alone in his grave, his charitable gift [sadaqa] will come and sit by his head, his ritual prayer [salat] by his right side, his fasting [siyam] by his left side, and his patience [sabr] by his feet. Then the torment will approach him near his head, but the charitable gift will say: "There is no way for you to get past me!" It will then approach him from the right, but the ritual prayer will say: "There is no way for you to get past me!" So it will try to reach him from the left, but the fasting will say: "There is no way for you to get past me!" It will then try from the direction of his feet, but his patience will say: "I am here at the ready. If you need me, I shall come to your aid."

O my people! You must see it as your duty to share your own blessings with the poor [fuqara '], and to treat them with special consideration even when faith [iman] is weak. Charitable sharing [mu'asat] is appropriate when faith is strong, and they are entitled to special consideration [ithar] even when you are personally in distress. You must entertain the poor with generosity, or send them away in the kindest manner possible when you have nothing to give. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported as having said:

Allah's gift to His servant is the beggar at his door.

Woe unto you! You are unwilling to accept the gift of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), so you send it away! In a very short time you will see your report. Poverty will come to you, to drive out your affluence and take its place. Sickness will come to you, to drive out your good health and take its place. Do not gamble with the most important blessings that you now have from your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). The true believer [mu'min] realizes that the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) would not send the beggar to him except as an act of love, so he gives that beggar some part of the bountiful favor that he has himself received. He recognizes that, when he gives the beggar a gift, treats him with respect, and accepts the fact that he has a responsibility toward him, he is himself being given the most perfect, the most abundant and the most excellent gift that he could ever receive in this world and the hereafter.

O you backslider! You cultivate relations with the sultans, the princes and the wealthy, in pursuit of worldly status and material gain, but you fail to cultivate relations with the King of kings [Malik al-muluk], the Wealthiest of the wealthy [Aghna 'l-aghniya'], the One who never dies, the One who is never in need. If you lend Him a loan, He will repay you many times over. In return for one dirham [silver coin] He will give you ten in this world, and your reward in the hereafter will never be diminished. He will give you blessed grace [baraka] in this world, and the full reward in the hereafter. Surely you must have heard how He has said (Exalted is He):

And whatever you spend [in a good cause], He will replace it. (34:39)

O Allah, grant us the blessing of Your love [mahabba], and make it a pleasant experience for us to serve You and to stand in waiting at Your door, in the company of all the members of Your community [umma], and:

Give us in this world good, and good in the hereafter, and guard us against the torment of the fire! (2:201)


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