Jala' al-Khawatir - Removal of Cares

The Fortieth Discourse

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

You must observe a high standard of morality [husn al-khulq] in your social relationships with people, for then, if you should die, they will pray for Allah to bestow His mercy upon you [yurahhimu 'alaikum], and even if you are absent, they will still feel lovingly disposed toward you.

Pay careful heed to this piece of good advice. Attach it firmly to your hearts, and do not treat it as just an idea to be considered mentally and compared theoretically with other ideas. I have drawn your attention to something that may seem rather unimportant, but which carries a very considerable reward. How splendid is a good moral character, for it is a source of comfort to its owner and to other people as well, and how disgusting is a bad moral character, for it is a weary burden to its owner and a cause of pain to others! It is necessary for the true believer [mu 'min] to wage a dedicated struggle against his own lower self [nafs], for the purpose of improving the quality of his moral character [khulq]. He must impose this particular discipline upon it, just as he must strive to train it in all other forms of worshipful obedience [ta'at]. As long as the lower self [nafs] shows signs of recalcitrance and indignation, and a tendency to treat other people with contempt, you must continue the struggle until it is well and truly tamed. Once it is properly tamed, it will behave with humble modesty and meek submissiveness, and its moral character will be refined. It will recognize its own worth, and be tolerant of others. Before the dedicated struggle [mujahada] is waged against it, the lower self [nafs] is a tyrannical Pharaoh [Fir'awna].

Congratulations to anyone who recognizes the true nature of his own lower self [nafs], and then treats it as an enemy, opposing it whenever it tries to tell him what to do! You must subject it constantly to the remembrance of death and of that which lies beyond death, for then it will become meekly submissive and its moral character will be improved. You must grasp it with the hand of contemplation, and cause it to enter the Fire of Hell and the Garden of Paradise, so that it can see what these contain, for then it will become meekly submissive and its moral character will be improved. You must contemplate the Resurrection [Qiyama], and make your own lower selves [anfus] experience it, before the actual Resurrection comes to pass. The Resurrection will be a delight for one set of people, and an occasion of grief for another group. For some it will be a festival ['id], while for others it will be a funeral ceremony [ma'tam]. For some people it will be the day of the festival of the righteous ['id as-salihin], the day of their recreational parade, the day on which they get to wear their robes of honor and to mount their fine riding beasts, while their attendants come forth to escort them, and their banners are unfurled. Their good deeds will take on visible forms, the radiance of which will shine upon their faces.

If you have a serious interest in your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), and if you are seeking Him, you must stick close to me, and be content. If you are prepared to do this, well and good. If not, you are not being really honest. This path is not one that can be traveled in the company of the lower self [nafs], passionate desire [hawa], natural inclination [tab'], and the need to make a favorable impression on one's fellow creatures. I have disclosed the state of affairs to you, so if you wish, accept my terms. If not.... You [O Lord] are More Knowledgeable [A'raf]! If you do accept, I shall hope and pray that you may receive much good from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). Follow me, and do not fear for yourself on account of the hunger of the poor. You may rest assured that nothing but what you wish for is going to happen, and that you will experience nothing but good.

When I was just a little boy, I used to go off by myself to spend time alone in empty places. At certain moments, I would hear a voice, although I never saw a person, saying: "You are surely blessed with goodness, and you will surely acquire goodness!" Whenever this happened, I would get up and explore my surroundings, since I had no idea where that voice might be coming from, and--for which all praise is due to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He)--I have experienced blessed grace [baraka] in all my circumstances.

Among the servants of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), there are some who are empowered to say to something "Be!"--and it will thereupon come into being. You do not see them, however, and even if you did see them, you would fail to recognize them. You would slam your doors shut in their faces. You would tighten your purse strings in their presence, and you would not invite them to share the food on your table. Woe unto you! If you bolt your doors in the faces of the poor, Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will shut you out, but if you open them in their faces, Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will provide an opening for you. If you spend your financial resources to earn the favor of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), He will provide you with compensation, but if you spend those resources to earn the favor of your fellow creatures, He will make things difficult for you. Spend freely on good causes, and do not be stingy, for generosity is from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), while stinginess is from the devil [shaitan]. As Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said:

The devil promises you poverty, and instructs you to behave with gross indecency. (2:268)

This is in contrast to what Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has promised you, namely, compensation in return for charitable expenditure, for He has said (Exalted is He):

And whatever thing you shall expend, He will replace it. (34:39)

Woe unto you! You lay claim to Islam, yet you disagree with the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), and you introduce into his religion whatever novelty your whims and passions desire. You have been telling a lie concerning your Islam. Far from being a faithful follower [muttabi'], you are in fact a heretical innovator [mubtadi']. Far from being harmoniously compliant, you are actually an incompatible dissident. Surely you must have heard how the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has told us:

Follow [the Book and the Sunna], and do not introduce heretical innovations, for you have been given everything you need.

You must also have heard his saying (Allah bless him and give him peace):

I have left you in possession of unambiguous evidence.

You claim to be a faithful follower of his (Allah bless him and give him peace), yet you contradict his words. You are quite unworthy of any respect!

I am simply telling the truth, so if you wish to love me, well and good, but you do not have to love me, if you do not wish to do so. If you wish to praise me, well and good, but you may also blame me, if you so wish.

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

Say: "O mankind, the truth has come to you from your Lord." (10:108)

So, if there is anyone who wishes to believe, let him believe, and if there is someone who wishes to disbelieve, let him disbelieve. No one will run away from what I have to say, unless he is a hypocrite [munafiq], an impostor [dajjal], a heretical innovator [bid'i], someone who is motivated by his whims and passions [hawa], someone who readily complies with his own lower self [nafs], someone who is at variance with the Book of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and the Sunna of His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), someone who is a hater of the truth and a lover of falsehood, someone whose heart takes no steps in the direction of closeness to his Master [Mawla] (Almighty and Glorious is He).

Use the ears and eyes of your heart to listen and look, without doubt and suspicion, then watch out for the marvelous wonders you will see! You must cease to view the people [of the Lord] with doubt and suspicion. Acknowledge the fact that they always tell the truth, and be ready to accept instruction from them, without asking 'why?' and 'how?', for then they will adopt you as a member of their company. They will regard you as fit to enter their service, and they will share with you whatever blessings are bestowed upon them. Blessings and favors are bestowed upon the hearts of the champions of truth [siddiqin], and secrets are communicated to their innermost beings [asrar], by night and by day. If you wish them to regard you as fit to enter their service, you must purify your character, both on the outside [zahir] and on the inside [batin], and stand before them at the ready. You must purify your heart by purging it of any heretical innovation [bid'a], for the doctrine [i'tiqad] of the people [of the Lord] is the doctrine of the Prophets [nabiyyin], the Messengers [mursalin], and the champions of the truth [siddiqin] (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon them all). Theirs is the school [madhhab] to which they adhere [in respect of religious tenets and practices], the school of the righteous predecessors. They would never make a claim that could not be substantiated, and whenever they do make a claim, it is supported by the testimony of two impeccable witnesses, whose honorable status is definitely beyond suspicion, namely, the Book of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and the Sunna of His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace).

O my people, you may do injustice to yourselves, but you must not do injustice to others! Injustice [zulm] brings about the ruin of whole countries, and puts an end to their development. It darkens hearts and faces, and causes the means of livelihood to be in short supply. Do not perpetrate injustice [la tazlimu], for it will result in darkness [zulma] on the Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama]. The resurrection of our physical bodies is something we shall experience all too soon. The Creator of our physical bodies will make us stand before Him, while He calls us to account and submits us to interrogation. He will ask us about everything, be it little or much, and He will hold us responsible for the tiniest details.

I am simply acting as a counselor [nasih] for your benefit. I am not seeking any remuneration from you in exchange for my good advice!

You must not get anywhere close to transactions in which usurious interest [riba] is involved, for that would amount to waging war against your Lord, and would result in the removal of blessed grace [baraka] from your material resources. When you make a loan, the terms of repayment should be exactly one dinar [gold coin] for one dinar. If anyone among you is capable of making a loan to a poor person, and of waiving the repayment after some time for the sake of Allah, he should certainly do so. He will thereby make that person happy on two occasions, first by means of the loan itself, and then again by the waiver. You should do this with a sense of relying on your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) and having confidence in Him. He will surely provide compensation, reward you, and bless you for it. You must make every effort to avoid turning the beggar away empty-handed. Give him whatever you can readily afford, however little it may be, for a little something is better than total deprivation. If you really cannot come up with anything at all, you should at least refrain from shooing him away with angry words. Try to say something kind and gentle to him as you send him on his way, so that you do not break his heart with utter disappointment!

The face of this world is very changeable indeed; its complexion varies with the alternating of the night and the day. Whenever someone dies, he actually experiences his personal resurrection [qiyama], and becomes aware of what he has to his credit and of what is counted against him. Everything has its terminating counterpart: well-being is terminated by affliction, affluence by poverty, life by death, honor by humiliation. All of these things are opposites. As one of them arrives, its opposite departs, and in the hereafter there is the termination of death. In the case of the believer [mu'min] who is spiritually aware ['arif], no sooner does he close the eyes of his head than the eyes of his heart open wide, so that he sees his fellow creatures in the state they happen to be in at that moment. Then, as soon as the eyes of his heart have closed, the eyes of his head open wide, and he sees the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) and His ways of managing the realm of creation. As soon as the Lord of Truth [Haqq] makes His presence felt, the realm of creation [khalq] departs. As soon as the hereafter makes its presence felt, this world departs. As soon as honesty [sidq] makes its presence felt, lying departs. As soon as sincere devotion [ikhlas] makes its presence felt, the association of partners with Allah [shirk] departs. As soon as faith [iman] makes its presence felt, hypocrisy [nifaq] departs. Each item has an opposite to match it.

The sensible person pays attention to the ultimate consequences ['awaqib]. He does not focus his attention on this world and its glamorous charm, for it must very soon pass away and come to an end. All of you will come to an end, then it will also come to an end after you are gone.

You must not run away, trying to escape from the company of your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) on account of the painful sufferings that are sent by Him to afflict you, for He is More Aware [A'lam] of your best interests than you yourselves, and you must receive a proper education. He comes down upon the hearts of the champions of truth [siddiqin], so you may salute them with the greeting of peace, and ask them to intercede on your behalf. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) is the One who enables and empowers [al-Mumakkin]. He clasps their hearts to His bosom, kisses the eyes of their hearts, and raises them up through patience [sabr], compliance [muwafaqa] and contentment [rida]. You will therefore remain in His presence for a while, but then you will be taken away from His presence, and the question will be asked: "How did you regard the situation and the hospitality you received there?" To this you will reply: "What an excellent situation, and how excellent the Host! How excellent the guidance, and how excellent the Guide!"

One of these spiritual masters [sada] (may Allah bestow His mercy upon them all) had just been through the agony of a very painful ordeal, when some people came and asked him: "How was it for you during the experience of that ordeal?" To this he replied: "Ask the ordeal about me!"

You must all be patient with your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), for He will surely bring your trials and tribulations to an end, and He will raise your spiritual degrees in His sight, as a reward for your patience. Be with Him, in spite of your own lower selves [anfus]. Be with those who sincerely believe in Him, and who are actively practicing what they believe, in His company, because of Him, and for His sake.

O Allah, grant us control of the instruments we need, and make things easy for us! Open up good opportunities for us, and make our way smooth! Amin.

Faith [iman] brings with it an increase in sickness, poverty, hunger, and the abundance of cares and concerns. If this does not happen, it is not true faith. The essential nature [jawhar] of faith becomes clearly apparent in the presence of misfortune, and its light shines brightly in the presence of trials and tribulations, just as courage becomes manifest in the presence of the army that threatens disaster. Your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) is fully Aware [Khabir] of what all of you are doing, O kings [muluk] and slaves [mamalik], O members of the elite class [khawass], O common folk ['awamm], O affluent ones [aghniya'], O indigent paupers [fuqara'], O hermits in your cells [ahl al-khalawat]! No one has a screen behind which to hide from Him, for He (Exalted is He) is with you wherever you may be!

O Allah, grant us protection [sitr], forgiveness [ghufran], pardon ['afw], kindness [lutf], clemency [hilm], tolerance [tajawuz], providential care ['inaya], sufficiency [kifaya], well-being ['afiya], and amnesty [mu'afat]! Amin.

Whatever you are involved in, be it good or evil, truth or falsehood, sincere devotion [ikhlas] or the association of partners with Allah [shirk], worshipful obedience or sinful disobedience, He (Exalted is He) is All-Knowing ['Alim], Ever-Aware [Khabir], Ever-Watchful [Raqib], Ever-Present [Hadir], Ever-Witnessing [Shahid]. You must feel a sense of shame, knowing that you are subject to His scrutinizing gaze (Exalted is He). Look with the eye of faith [iman], for then you will see that His gaze (Exalted is He) is directed at you from all the six directions [i.e., from right and left, from in front and behind, from above and below].

Are these stern lectures [mawa'iz] not sufficient for you? If only you would take advice, and listen with the ears of your hearts! All that you really need in this business is to feel the fear of your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), in both your private and your public lives. You must always be vigilantly aware of Him (Exalted is He). You must be conscious of the fact that He is watching you, and that your conduct is being monitored by the angels, the Noble Recorders [al-Kiram al-Katibin]. You should indeed be afraid of the pair [of angels assigned to keep the record of your deeds], for then you need not be afraid of the penalties prescribed by Islamic law [hudud shar'iyya] that could be imposed upon you by your worldly ruler [sultan] and your political leader [amir]. If only you would be afraid [of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and the recording angels], the person responsible for looking after you would not have any trouble with you!

O you poor creature! O starving wretch! O naked one! O needy one! You are crying out for help, but silence is preferable in your case, and it will prove more beneficial to you. The fact that He (Exalted is He) has knowledge ['ilm] of your condition is enough to relieve you of the need to beg. His only reason for putting you to the test is to get you to come back to Him, so take your heart back to Him, stand firm, and see what good things you receive! Do not be impatient with Him, do not accuse Him of stinginess, and do not regard Him with doubt and suspicion. Exalted is He! He has caused you to experience hunger, nakedness, and poverty. He has doubts about you, so He (Exalted is He) is looking to see whether you will stick close to His door, or to the door of someone other than Him; whether you will be content with Him, or dissatisfied with Him; whether you will be grateful to Him, or complain about Him; whether you will yell at Him, or beseech Him in a humble tone of voice. He is putting you to the test in order to see how you behave.

O ignorant ones, you have left the door of the Wealthy One [al-Ghani] (Exalted is He) and attached yourselves to the door of the indigent pauper. You have left the door of the Noble One [al-Karim] and attached yourselves to the door of the ignoble scoundrel. You have left the door of the All-Capable One [al-Qadir] and attached yourselves to the door of someone who is quite incompetent. O you who are so ignorant about Him, the time is not far off when He will gather all of you together in His presence [on the Day of Resurrection]. He will make you stand before Him on that day, the Day of the Assembly [Yawm al-Jam'], in order to group you according to the various categories to which you belong.

O all you creatures! Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said:

This is the Day of Decision. We have assembled you together with the people of ancient times, so if you have a trick to play, try now to trick Me! (77:38,39)

On the Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama], Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will gather all His creatures together on an earth which is not this earth, but one upon which no human blood has ever been shed, and where no sin has ever been committed. This is something about which there can be no doubt, and concerning which there is no uncertainty. As Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said:

And because the Hour is coming, of that there is no doubt, and because Allah will raise up those who are in the graves. (22:7)

The Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama] will be the day of mutual cheating [taghabun], the day of grief, the day of remorse, the day of recalling to mind, the day of compliance, the day of testimony, the day of stories, the day of gladness, the day of sorrow, the day of fear, the day of security from fear, the day of bliss, the day of torment, the day of rest, the day of weary labor, the day of thirst, the day of freedom from affliction, the day of clothing, the day of nakedness, the day of profit, the day of loss, the day on which the true believers [mu'minun] will rejoice in the help they receive from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).

O Allah, we take refuge with You from the evil of that day, and we beg You to grant us something good.

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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