Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani Part 10

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)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 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].
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].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]. 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].