Jala' al-Khawatir - Removal of Cares - 3

The Third Discourse

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported as having said: 

Part of the excellence of a man's Islam is paying no attention to that which does not concern him. 

To busy oneself with that which is irrelevant is the distraction of idle fools.  Deprived of the good pleasure of his Master [Mawla] is he who fails to put into practice what He commands, and who occupies himself with things he has not been instructed to deal with.  This is deprivation its very self, death its very self and banishment its very self. 

O young man!  You must carry out the commandments and observe the prohibitions [laid down by your Lord].  Make sure that you are fully in compliance [with the sacred law], then place yourself in the hand of destiny [qadar] without asking 'why?' and without asking 'how?'  It is far better for you to be looked after by Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), with His knowledge of you, than for you to be looking after yourself, with your ignorance of your Lord.  Be satisfied with what He has given you.  try to be grateful for it and do not ask him for more, since you do not recognize the best part of what you have already. 

Abstinence [zuhd] is what gives comfort to the hearts of obedient abstainers.  the burden of abstinence is borne by the physical constitution.  the burden of intimate knowledge [ma'rifa] is borne by the heart.  the burden of nearness [to the Lord] is borne by the innermost being [sirr].  Be abstinent, be satisfied, and be grateful.  Be pleased with your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), and do not be pleased with yourself.  Think well of other people.  Give up thinking the worst of other people, and do not hold a high opinion of yourself.  Refrain from gratifying the desires of the flesh, for the effects of such restraint are healing and purifying to the heart.  to satisfy one's appetite for lawful food [halal] is quite enough to blur the perception of the heart and render it intoxicated, so how about the influence of food that is actually unlawful[haram]?  This explains the following saying of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace):   

The right diet is the main part of all medical treatment [al-'imya ra'su 'd-dawa']. 

You must accustom every physical body to what is normal for it, since in these three [Arabic] words the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was making a collective statement applicable to all bodies.  Gluttony [bitna] extinguishes perspicacity [fitna], the lamp of wisdom [misbah al-hikma] and the light of sainthood [nur al-wilaya].   As long as you are still attached to this world and to your fellow creatures, you must keep to the proper diet, because you are in the hospital [maridistan].  But once your heart has attained to the Lord of truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), the matter will be in His hands.  He will take charge of you completely, while you will be out of a job.  How could He fail to take you into His care, when you have become worthy of Him?  As He has said (Almighty and Glorious is He):

[Say:]  "My Protecting Friend is Allah, who has revealed the Book, and He befriends the righteous." (7:196)

O young man!   You must not be alarmed about the fact that destiny's decree [qadar] is sure to come into effect.  there is no one who can turn it back, and there is no one who can avert it.  Everything that has been preordained [maqdi] will come into being, without regard for those who may like it or for those who may find it displeasing.    

Your involvement in this world requires that you have a righteous intention [niyya saliha], otherwise you deserve to be viewed with disgust.  In all your affairs and undertakings you must say:  "There is no power, nor is there any strength, except through Allah, the High, the Almighty."  You should set aside one hour for your worldly interests, one hour for your interest in the hereafter, one hour for your personal concerns, and one hour for the benefit of your family, then dedicate all the remaining hours to your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He).  You must concentrate first of all on the cleanliness [tahara] of your heart, for this is an obligatory duty [farida].  Then turn your attention to deeper knowledge [ma'rifa].  If you miss the root, your preoccupation with the branch will not be accepted of you.  there is no benefit in cleanliness of the physical parts of the body combined with defilement of the heart.  You must cleanse your physical limbs and organs by following the Sunna, and your heart by putting the Qur'an into practice.  Take care of your heart, so that your physical body will be taken care of.  Every vessel exudes its own contents.  Whatever is in your heart will ooze out from you through your physical parts. 

You must always be humble, for whenever you behave with humility, you will be purified, enhanced and raised to a higher spiritual plane.  If you do not conduct yourself with humility, on the other hand, it can only mean that you are ignorant of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), His Messengers [rusul] and His saints [awliya'], His law [hukm], His knowledge ['ilm], His destiny [qadar] and His power [qudra], in the sphere of this world and also in the realm of the hereafter. 

How often do you listen without understanding what you hear, without putting it into practice, and without even making a sincere effort to pay attention?  So why do you come here at all?  Your presence and your absence are one and the same!  When you come to be with me here, but with no intention of acting on what I have to say, you are merely being a nuisance to the other people present.  As long as you are stuck there in your place of business, you feel depressed because your plans have not been working out, but then you come here to me and your depression leaves you.  It is replaced by a sense of euphoria.  You listen, but it is as if you had not heard. 

O you who own so much property, forget about your property!  Come and sit here, in the midst of the poor [fuqara'].  Be humble in the presence of Allah and in their presence.  O you who possess such a noble pedigree [nasab], forget about your pedigree and come here!  the genuinely noble pedigree is devotion to righteousness [taqwa].  Somebody once asked the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace):  "Who are the members of your family, O Muhammad?"  He replied (Allah bless him and give him peace) by saying:

Every dutiful believer belongs to the family of Muhammad [kullu taqiyyin alu Muhammadin].

Do not approach me on the basis of your noble pedigree.  Approach me on the basis of your righteous devotion.  Be sensible!  You have nothing of real value to offer.  You can have no standing in the presence of Allah on the basis of your ancestral pedigree alone.  For that you must acquire the genuine pedigree of righteous devotion.  As Allah Himself has said (Almighty and Glorious is He):

Surely the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the one of you who is most devoted to righteousness. (49:13)

There is nothing good in any of you, O boy, O youth, O shaikh, O seeker, as long as you have not purified your diet by ridding it of every morsel of unlawful food [haram].  Most of you, the great majority, eat food that is at least contaminated, if not downright unlawful.  When someone eats forbidden food, his heart becomes completely dark.  When a person eats things of dubious quality, his heart becomes very murky.  Your lower selves and your passionate desires will simply dismiss any scruples you may have about the eating of forbidden food.  the lower self [nafs] and the passions [hawa] are quite impulsive when it comes to the pursuit of carnal pleasures and delights, to which they are readily addicted.  Suppose you have been in the habit of feeding your lower self with grits [khushkar], and it tries to persuade you to give it honey for a change.  Your response to this should be to make it eat barley bread, until its one and only desire is to have you put it back onto its old diet of grits. 

When the lower self is not subject to pious restraint in its diet, it may be compared to a hen-a hen that goes pecking around in the garbage dumps, so that its intake is a mixture of polluted matter and pure food.  If someone proposes to eat the flesh of this hen, or the eggs it lays, he must keep it in a confined space and provide it with pure food, for only then will the bird and its eggs become fit to eat.  You must likewise restrain your lower self from eating forbidden food, and provide it with a pure and lawful diet, until it has lost all the flesh it developed from its unlawful intake.  You must also discourage it from eating even lawful food with a passionate appetite. 

Suppose one of you had to answer the question:  "Would you like to die while you are doing what you are doing right now?"  Suppose that person said "No," so he was then told:  "In that case you must repent and improve your behavior."  What if his response to this should be:  "That is what I shall do-if Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will help me to succeed"?  He is entitled to maintain that repentance is contingent on the decree of destiny [qadar], but this must not be used as a pretext to allow for the satisfaction of carnal appetites and desires, nor as a basis for postponement, a means of avoiding a definite answer-yes or no.  When death comes, it will snatch him away without warning, just when he is enjoying the pleasures and comforts of life.  It will snatch him away from his family and friends.  It will snatch him away from his shop and his profits.  Death will come upon him suddenly, while his last will and testament is still unwritten, while his accounts are still unregistered, while his expectations are still far-reaching and widespread. 

The correct way of thinking is that which brings the righteous [salihun] nearer [to their Lord]-away from civilization and into the desert waste.  It eliminates their merriment and perpetuates their sadness.  Whenever someone really comes to know ['arafa] Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), his sadness and anxiety are sure to increase.  He comes to have an inner voice that converses with him, and a preoccupation that keeps him engrossed.  He would rather not have to listen to the words of his fellow creatures, and he feels no desire to meet with any of them.  He would dearly love to be set free from his family and his property.  He would dearly love to transfer his allotted shares to other owners.  He would dearly love to see his nature and character transformed into angelic qualities.  Yet the more he wishes to be set free from all these human limitations, the more he finds himself constrained by the law [hukm], and the more the Controller [Muqayyid] keeps him under control by serving notice of predestination [sabiqa] and foreknowledge ['ilm].  He is thus under constant supervision by night and by day.  He moves toward his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), away from this world.  then the moment comes when he is overwhelmed by the direct experience [ma'rifa] of Him, so He watches over him both outwardly [zahiran] and inwardly [batinan]. 

Al-Fath al-Mawsili (may Allah the Exalted be well pleased with him) used to say in his confidential prayers [munajat] :  "How much longer will You keep me at a distance, confining me to this world?  When will You transport me to You?  When shall I be relieved of this world and of creatures?"

What analogy would suit you best?  Surely it is just as Noah (peace be upon him) said to his son:

"O my dear son, come aboard with us, and do not be with the unbelievers!"  He said:  "I shall take refuge in some mountain that will keep me safe from the water."  (11:42-43)

The preacher [wa'iz] is saying to you:  "Come aboard!  Embark with me on the ship of salvation!"  But you respond by saying:  "I shall take refuge in some mountain that will keep me safe from the water."  In your case the mountain consists of your exaggerated expectations and your greedy desire for the things of this world.  the angel of death will be arriving very soon, and you will be torn away from that mountain of yours.  Be sensible, O servants of Allah!  Leave your houses on that mountain.  You have erected the walls of your religious belief and practice on a nonexistent foundation.  You have set up your tents with nothing to hold them in place.  You need to demolish and rebuild, for this world has established itself in your hearts.

Let me take charge of you, so that I may purify you and make you clean.  I shall be giving you some doses of medicine.  the potions I shall give you to drink are:  pious restraint [wara'], abstinence [zuhd], dutiful devotion [taqwa], faith [iman], conviction [iqan], experience [ma'rifa], knowledge ['ilm], indifference to all things, and complete detachment from all things.  Then you will be ready to receive your existence [wujud] in the presence of your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), nearness to Him and remembrance of Him.  Anyone who is truly worthy of Him will come to be a sun and a moon for His creatures, and a guide who takes them by their hands and leads them from the shore of this world to the shore of the hereafter.   

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported as having said:

In every specialized craft, you should seek the help of a qualified expert.

O young man!  You have not been created merely for the purpose of acquiring worldly things, for nothing more than eating and drinking and getting married.  You must repent and return [to your Lord], before the Angel of Death (peace be upon him) comes and snatches you away while you are doing something bad. 

Every good preacher will advise you to observe the commandments and prohibitions [of the sacred law], and to endure with patience whatever destiny [qadar] brings along.  You must also endure with patience the pain and suffering inflicted on you by your fellow creatures, including your next-door neighbors, for patience is the source of so much that is good.  You are all under orders to practice patience, and you have been made responsible for yourselves and for your flocks.  As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:

Each and every one of you is a shepherd, and each and every one of you is responsible for his flock.

You must endure with patience whatever is decreed by destiny [qadar], until suffering is transformed into certainty [yaqin].  Patience is the foundation of all that is good.  The angels [mala'ika] were afflicted with trials and tribulations, and they bore them with patience.  The Prophets [anbiya'] were afflicted with trials and tribulations, and they bore them with patience.  The righteous [salihun] have been afflicted with trials and tribulations, and they have borne them with patience.  Now you are following in the footsteps of the people [of the Lord], so you must do as they did.  You must endure with patience as they endured with patience.

When the heart is sound, it is indifferent to whether anyone agrees or disagrees with it, to whether anyone praises or blames it, to whether anyone gives or refuses to give it something, to whether anyone brings it close or keeps it at a distance, and to whether anyone accept it or rejects it, because the sound heart is filled with affirmation of Divine Unity [tawhid], absolute trust [tawakkul], certitude [yaqin], helpful guidance to success [tawfiq], knowledge ['ilm], faith [iman], and nearness [qurb] to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).  He sees all creatures in their essential weakness, lowliness and poverty, yet he will not be arrogant toward a little child amongst them.  He becomes like a lion when battle is joined with the unbelievers [kuffar] and hypocrites [munafiqun], out of zeal for Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).  In His presence he becomes a discarded piece of flesh, and he is meek and humble toward those who are righteous [salihun] and piously devoted [muttaqun wari'un].  Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has described the kind of people who have such attributes, for He has said: 

Hard against the unbelievers, merciful among themselves.  (48:29)

Such a servant [of the Lord] comes into being from beyond the comprehension of ordinary creatures and from beyond their control.  He emerges as a manifestation of His words (Almighty and Glorious is He):

And He creates what you do not know.  (16:8)

All of this is the fruit of the affirmation of Divine Unity [tawhid], sincerity [ikhlas] and patience [sabr].  Consider the experience of our Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace).  When he endured with patience he was raised up to the Seventh Heaven, where he saw his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) and was drawn near to Him.  In his case the building proved sound, after the foundation of patience had been firmly laid.  All good results are based on patience, and this is why Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has mentioned it so frequently and enjoined it so emphatically, for He has said (Exalted is He):

O you who believe, be patient, and vie in patience; be steadfast, and observe your duty to Allah, in order that you may succeed.  (3:200)

O Allah, include us among those who endure with patience.  Let us be their faithful followers in active goodness, in word and in deed, in private and it public, in form and in substance, in all our states and circumstances, 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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