Jala' al-Khawatir - Removal of Cares - 29

The Twenty-Ninth Discourse

For the truly honest person [sadiq] there can be no movement to the rear.  He is always moving to the fore.  He has a front without a back.  He never ceases to behave with honest sincerity, so that his speck of dust eventually becomes a mountain, his drop of water an ocean, his tiny portion a great deal, his lamp a sun, and his shell a kernel [lubb]. 

If you ever have the good fortune to come across a truly honest person, you must stick close to him always, wherever he may lead you.  If you are lucky enough to come across a person who holds the remedy to cure your sickness, you must stick close to him at all times.  If you are lucky enough to come across a person who can show you how to recover the opportunities you have wasted on nothing better than garbage, you must stick close--really close--to him!

You may never get to know such people as these, however, for they are no more than a few rare individuals.  The outer shell is plentiful, but the kernel is in short supply.  The shells are in the public garbage dumps, but the kernels are in the private storerooms of the landowner.  Whenever a heart is filled with the things of this world, and with the desires and lusts of the flesh, that heart is merely a shell, fit for no purpose beyond this lower world.  As long as you can still detect within your heart any trace of the products of creation, you are doomed to suffer punishment. 

Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has told us:

I have not created the jinn and humankind except to serve Me.  I seek no provision from them, nor do I ask that they should feed Me.  Surely Allah is the All-Providing One, the Possessor of Strength, the Ever-Sure.  (51:56-58) 

Most of you are out of touch with reality.  You are pretending to practice Islam, when in actual fact you are doing nothing of the kind.  Woe unto you!  The mere name of Islam will do you no good at all.  You may be performing the required observances [shara'it], but only on the surface [zahir], devoid of inner content [batin], so your performance does not amount to anything of value.  Your external form may be there in the prayer-niche [mihrab], but your inner being is putting on a show and your outer self is playing the hypocrite.  From a superficial point of view, your conduct is considered pious and devout, even though all the while your inner being is full of things that are unlawful [haram]. 

This constitutes worshipful devotion [ta'abbud] as far as your physical frame is concerned.  Its performance will therefore render you outwardly exempt from punishment under the sacred law [shar'], since you have not committed any obvious infringement of that law, but true knowledge ['ilm] will condemn you to agony and chastisement.  You may see yourself as having dodged the penalty today, but who will let you get away with it tomorrow [at the Resurrection]? 

You may see yourself as having been exonerated in the view of the legal experts [ahl al-hukm], but how can you pass for blameless in the sight of the people of knowledge [ahl al-'ilm], when they see by the light of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and recognize the Truth [Haqq] by indications with which they are familiar?  As seen through the eyes of the common folk, you are a person who performs the ritual prayers [musalli], who keeps the fast [sa'im], who constantly extols the glory of the Lord [musabbih], who pays the alms-due [muzakki], who makes the pilgrimage to Mecca [hajj], who behaves with pious restraint [mutawarri'], who is devoted to duty [muttaqi] and dedicated to abstinence [zahid]. 

In the eyes of the people of knowledge, on the other hand, you are a hypocrite [munafiq], an impostor [dajjal], a denizen of Hell [jahannami].  As soon as you you come into their presence, they will notice the ruined state of your house, the house of your religion [din].  They will spot the mark of hypocrisy on your face.  They will recognize you at once by your telltale demeanor, and yet they will not say so in words.  The nearness of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) has sealed their mouths, His protective covering has kept their tongues in check, and the tongue of His noble generosity and forbearance restrains them.  Were it not for this, they would not seem so tolerant!  

O you hypocrites!  You must practice the reality of Islam, so that faith [iman] may come to you, and then conviction [iqan], direct experience [ma'rifa], intimate conversation [munajat], and confidential discourse [muhadatha].  Be sensible!  Do not be satisfied with the outer forms [suwar], devoid of their spiritual contents [ma'ani].  Perform your duties, and do so with sincere devotion, for then you will be saved.  For scholars, the way to get a firm grasp on knowledge is by putting it into practice.  He who gives service will be well served.  He who behaves humbly and modestly will be promoted to high rank.  You must act as a servant, for then you will come to be a master [sayyid].  Surely you have heard the saying:  "The master of the people is their servant."  As for you, you do an excellent job when it comes to serving yourself, your wife and your children.   You are very stingy with your money in relation to the poor, although you spend it freely on your personal whims and selfish interests.  

O you backslider!  The benefits you enjoy will very soon be in short supply.  You are more afraid of the policeman on your street, and of the swindler [duwali] 6 who operates in your neighborhood, than you are afraid of your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He).  You give them gifts and offer them presents, because they might spread the word that your home is in a shambles, and your credit likewise.  Woe unto you!  The time is near at hand, when all your wealth will disappear, when your friends-or rather, those wicked companions of yours-will leave you in the lurch and treat you as their enemy, and when your local policeman and your neighborhood swindler will both expose you to disgrace, because you can no longer bribe them to keep quiet. 

How can you expect to receive the grace of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), when you keep spending His blessings on acts of sinful disobedience against Him?  You will soon be reduced to begging, but no one will give you a handout, and you will end up living in the refuse dumps and sewers.  It may be that death will come to you while you are in this sorry state, in which case you will accept it as a welcome release from wretched misery. 

Be sensible, and feel a sense of shame in the presence of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He)!  This world cannot last for ever, but the hereafter will endure eternally.  The pleasures of this world do not linger very long, but everlasting are the delights of the hereafter.  The true believer [mu'min] trades this world for the hereafter, and the creation [khalq] for the Creator [Khaliq].

Among the people [of the Lord], there are some who must undergo the following experience:  At the very point where the person concerned has come to be completely satisfied with Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), to the exclusion of his fellow creatures and of everything else on earth, He saddles him with the responsibility of caring for dependents and providing for their support.  This is to make him go back to his fellow creatures and accept things from them, so that his receiving from them may be an act of mercy toward them.  Thus poverty will be his outwardly apparent condition [zahir], while his freedom from want remains as an inner state of  being [batin].  In other words, his freedom from want will be a private matter, while his poverty is visible to the public at large.   

Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) may effect the transformation of His servants through what He shows them in their dreams, and they will surely receive an education in the process.  First of all, He lets them see the Book and the Sunna.  They practice what they learn from these, and so they become devout [muttaqin].  Then He lets them see the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) in their dreams, telling them to do this and that, and to refrain from doing this and that.  Then they see their Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) in their dreams, and He will tell them what they must or must not do.  Thus they progress from grade to grade, from textbook to textbook, from classroom to classroom, from commemoration to commemoration.

As seen through the eyes of the true believer [mu'min], all creatures are but one single individual, and that individual is a decrepit invalid, who is capable neither of procuring any benefit for himself, nor of preventing himself from suffering any harm.  The true believer hates those of his fellow creatures who disobey his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), and he loves those who obey Him, for he concurs with Him where hating and loving are concerned.  He does not love his fellow creatures on account of what they may give him, and his hatred of them is not motivated by his self-interest [nafs] or his passionate desires [hawa].  He is always detached from the influence of the lower self, and he only goes along with it when it is ready to obey Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).  He obliges this world to keep its distance from his heart.  He is ever steadfast in his commitment to the religion [din] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), observing its provisions with the utmost respect, and always prepared to come to its aid. 


Woe unto you!  It is the heart that must practice abstinence, not merely the body.  O you who act like a pious ascetic on the surface [mutazahid az-zahir], your abstinence will be thrown straight back at you.  You have seen to it that your turban and your gown will be kept in fine condition, and you have buried your gold in the ground, and only then you have donned that coarse hair shirt [mish] and assumed an attitude of humble piety.  May Allah cut off your skin and your head, if you do not repent!  You have opened a shop in which you offer hypocrisy [nifaq] for sale.  May Allah make your shop collapse on top of you, so as to flatten you beneath it!  Will you never learn?  You must repent.  You must cut the waistband [that marks you as an unbeliever].8

Woe unto you!  In the case of the true believer [mu'min], his abstinence is in his heart, while the nearness of his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) is in his innermost being [sirr].  Both this world and the hereafter are at his door, inside his storeroom, not right inside him.  His heart is empty of anything other than his Master [Mawla].  How can he even hear anyone besides Him, when he is filled with Him, with the remembrance of Him and with His nearness?  His heart is broken on account of his Master, so He must surely be with him, because Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said in one of His utterances:

I am with those whose hearts are broken on My account.

Your lower selves [nufus] are broken on account of the loss of this world, while their hearts are broken on account of the Master [Mawla].9  But then, once they are really and truly broken-hearted, He comes to them and mends their broken state.  The Physician comes along and treats their condition.  This is the true bliss, not the bliss of this world and the hereafter.  The people [of the Lord] are sick, but their Physician is with them.  They are sick in the presence of their Physician, sleeping in the bay of His protection and His tender care, while He treats them with the hand of grace and kindness and compassion.

If anyone backs away, he will not be the one to succeed.  You must sit in the company of the people [of the Lord] and listen to what they have to say.  You must befriend them for the sake of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), not for the sake of this world, for then He will cause you to benefit from them.  You must acquire knowledge and put it into practice, so that you may derive benefit from the knowledge you acquire.  Knowledge is like the sword, while practice is like the hand.  A sword will not cut anything without a hand to wield it, nor can a hand do any cutting without a sword.  You must study outwardly [zahiran] and be sincere about it inwardly [batinan], for you will not be given a speck of dust without sincerity [ikhlas].  

You must listen attentively to the Qur'an, and put what you hear into practice.  The Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) has only sent it down so that you may use it to get in touch with Him.  It has two edges, one edge being in His hand and one edge in our hands.  If you put it into practice, He will cause your hearts to climb up to Him.  He will install your hearts in the abode of His nearness, while you are still here in this world, before you pass on to the hereafter. 

If you wish to attain to contact with Him, you must practice detachment from this world and your fellow creatures.  You must practice detachment from your own lower self [nafs], your family, your property, your carnal appetites, your dubious habits, and your fondness for the praise, approval and attention of your fellow creatures.  If you can really experience this, you will find yourself able to do without them altogether.  Your stomach will be fully fed, your liver will be well and truly irrigated, your inner being [batin] and your private life will flourish and prosper, your heart and your innermost being [sirr] will glow with light, and your lower self [nafs] will be calm and tranquil. 

All this will come about as the result of your putting into practice what you learn from the Qur'an.  This Qur'an is an illuminating sun, so you must install it in the houses of your hearts, in order to let it shine its light for you.  Woe unto you!  If you put out the lamps, how can you see what is right there in front of you, in the darkness of the night?

Obey Allah and the Messenger when He calls you to that which brings you to life.  (8:24)

A heart that is dead, how can it see?  A heart that is dead through the influence of this world and the love thereof, the love of creatures and their good opinion, how can it hear?  What can it hear and see?  Get to know creatures really well, and you will eventually come to detest them, O you who are dead at heart through the pursuit of this world, through your eager desire to possess it and your fondness for what it has to offer! 

As for you, O pious abstainers, your quest for the Garden of Paradise has distracted you from your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He).  Woe unto you!  If you wish to find the right track, you must get your priorities right.  The neighbor must come before the house [al-jar qabla 'd-dar] and the companion before the path [ar-rafiq qabla 't-tariq]. 

In your case, O preachers [wu''az], you have promoted yourselves to the position of the Prophets (may the blessing and peace of Allah be upon them all).  You have put yourselves forward into the front rank, but you are not skilled in tactical maneuver and the art of combat.  You must come down to earth and learn some lessons.  You must put what you learn into practice, and you must do so sincerely.  Then you can aspire to the heights. 

There can be no success in this business except through combat with the lower self [nafs], the passions [hawa], the natural inclinations [tab'], the devil [shaitan], the influence of this world [dunya], and the desires of the flesh [shahawat].  It also requires detachment from one's fellow creatures, and ceasing to regard them as the cause of injury or the source of benefit.  Once you have gained the upper hand over all of these adversaries, once you have conquered and subdued them through the strength of your faith [iman], your conviction [iqan] and your affirmation of the Divine Unity [tawhid], the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) will set His seal upon your heart and your innermost being [sirr], and He will establish their residence in the abode of His nearness.  Then He will command the pair of them [your heart and your innermost being] to go forth and deal with them [your fellow creatures], for by now you will be an expert in the tactics of maneuvering among the ranks, knowing how to put up with people and how to contend with their problems.

O Allah, let us devote our energies to work that will earn us Your good pleasure, and:

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

In relation to ordinary people, the friends of Allah [awliya'ullah] are deaf, dumb and blind [summun bukmun 'umyun]...  For they are between the Majesty [jalal] and the Beauty [jamal] (of the Lord), inclining neither to the right nor to the left.  They have a "forwards" [amam] without a "backwards" [wara']... 

What I am involved in does not bring about change through the tongue, but only through the inner core [janan].  No right, no left and no behind, but only straight ahead.  A front without a back.  

  The distinctive feature of the saint [wali] is that he is ready to comply with the wishes of his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) under all circumstances...  He will come to be a front without a back, a nearness with no remoteness, a pure serenity with no murky confusion, a goodness with no evil. 


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