Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim and Sufism – Part Two

Translated by Ismaeel Nakhuda

Translator’s foreword: Below is the second and final part of the second chapter of the incomplete yet ongoing translation of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafiz’s Mawqif A’immat al-Harakat al-Salafiyyah min al-Tasawwuf wa al-Sufiyyah. In this chapter, the author produces a selection of excerpts from the writings of Imam Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim that show the positive manner by which the shaykh regarded Sufism and the Sufis.

The chapter also ends with an interesting and heartrending excerpt from Al-Wabil al-Sayyib min al-Kalim al-Tayyib in which Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim describes the spiritual condition of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah.

13: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Madarij al-Salikin (vol.2, p.464):

Section — from among the stations of, “It is you who we worship and it is you from who we seek aid,” (4:1) there is the station of knowledge (‘ilm). If this station does not accompany the salik from the first step that he places in the path until the last, then his suluk will be on another path; the path of connecting to Allah (wusul) is cut off from him, the paths of guidance are blocked for him, and the doors of success are closed to him. This is the consensus of the ‘arif shaykhs. Only the robbers among them and Iblis’ delegates and aides forbid [from adhering and seeking] knowledge.

The master of the Sufis (sayyid al-ta’ifah) and their shaykh Junayd ibn Muhammad (may Allah mercy him) said, “All of the paths are closed to the creation, save on he who follows in the steps of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).” He also said, “He who does not safeguard the Qur’an and writes hadith shall not be followed in this matter because our knowledge is bound to the Book and the Sunnah.” He also said, “This way of ours is bound to the principles of the Book and the Sunnah.”

Abu Hafs (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “He who does not weigh his actions and spiritual states (ahwal) at all times by the Book and the Sunnah, and does not consider with suspicion his thoughts, then he will not be counted in the register of men.”

Abu Sulayman al-Darani (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “Sometimes a point among the many subtle points mentioned by the Community penetrate my heart for a number of days, but I only accept them in light of two just witnesses — the Book and the Sunnah.”

Sahl ibn ‘Abdullah (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “Every action that the slave does without guidance, regardless of whether it is an act of piety or sin, is feeding the carnal self, and every action that the slave performs with guidance is punishing the carnal self.”

Sarri said, “Tasawwuf is the name of three meanings: the light of his ma‘rifah should not extinguish the light of his fear in Allah; he should not speak regarding the inner aspect of a knowledge that the evident aspects (zahir) of the Book are contradicted by; and miracles (karamat) should not bring him to commit those actions that Allah has forbidden.”

Abu Yazid said, “I carried out mujahadah (struggling with the spiritual self) for thirty years and I found nothing more difficult than knowledge and following it. If it weren’t for the differences (ikhtilaf) of the ‘ulama, then I would have been left behind. The differences of the scholars are a mercy except in matters of pure monotheism (tawhid).”

He once said to his servant, “Let us go to meet that man who is famous for his piety.” When they entered upon him in the mosque, the man cleared his throat and spat in the direction of the Qiblah. Abu Yazid returned and did not make salam with him. He said, “He is not trusted in following one etiquette from the many etiquettes of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), so how can he be trusted in that which he claims?”

He also said, “I had a desire to ask Allah Most High that he protects me from the burden of women. Then I said, ‘How can it be permissible for me to ask Allah this when the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not ask for this?’ I didn’t ask for it. Then Allah protected me from the burden of women until I didn’t care if a woman or a wall confronted me.”

He said, “If you see a man who has been bestowed with such miracles that he flies, then do not be deceived by him until you see how he is in bidding good and preventing evil, adhering to the limits and fulfilling the requirements of Shari‘ah.”

Ahmad ibn Abu al-Hawari (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “Whoever carries out an action without following the Sunnah, then his action is futile.”

Abu ‘Uthman al-Nisaburi (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “Association with Allah should be carried out with excellent etiquettes (husn al-adab) and uninterrupted reverence and thought; association with the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) should be carried out by following his Sunnah and adhering to the exoteric aspects of knowledge; association with the walis of Allah should be carried out with respect and service; association with family should be carried out with good manners (husn al-khalq); association with friends should be with perpetual joy as long as there is no sin; and association with the ignorant (juhhal) should be with du‘a for mercy for them.”

Others have increased on this, “Association with the two angels, Kiraman and Katibin, [should be carried out by being] kind to them, respecting them and dictating to them that which for which they will praise you; association with the carnal self (nafs) is by opposing it; and association with Satan is by being his enemy.”

Abu ‘Uthman also said, “Whoever appoints the Sunnah as commander over himself in words and action will speak with wisdom, and whoever appoints his desires as commander over himself in words and action will speak of innovation (bid‘ah). Allah Most High says, ‘If you obey him, then you shall be guided.’” (54:24)

Abu al-Husayn al-Nuri said, “Do not venture near he who you see claiming to be associated with Allah Most High while leaving the limits of Shar‘i knowledge.”

Muhammad ibn al-Fadl al-Bamji, who was from among the major shaykhs of the Community, said, “The passing of Islam will be on account of four: they will not practice what they know, they shall practice that which they do not know, they shall not teach that which they do, and they shall prevent people from learning and teaching.”

‘Amr ibn ‘Uthman al-Makki said, “Knowledge is the commander, fear is the driver, and the carnal self is bound between the two, defiant, deceptive and sly. Beware of it, keep it in check with the management of knowledge and drive it with the intimidation of fear. For you shall be what you desire.”

Abu Sa‘id al-Kharraz said, “Every inner form (batin) which is opposed by the outward form (zahir) is false.”

Ibn ‘Ata said, “Whoever makes the etiquettes of the Sunnah incumbent upon himself, then Allah will enlighten his heart with the light of ma‘rifah. There is no station (maqam) nobler than the station of following the habib in that which he ordered, did and were his manners.”

He said, “Everything that you ask about, then seek it in the security of knowledge; if you don’t find it, then in the field of wisdom; if you don’t find it, then weigh it with monotheism (tawhid); and if you don’t find it in these three places, then strike the face of Satan with it.

The fingers of [Shaykh] al-Hammal were pushed in front of a beast, which began sniffing him but did not harm him. When he was saved, he was asked, “What was in your heart when the beast sniffed you?” He said, “I was thinking of the differences of the ‘ulama regarding the saliva of wild animals.”

Abu Hamzah al-Baghdadi[1] said, “He who knows the right path, his journey will be easy. The only guide in the path to Allah is following the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in his states, speech and actions. Shaykh Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Musa al-Wasti went to the Jami‘ Mosque on the day of Friday when the strap of his sandal broke. A pharmacist repaired it and he said, ‘Do you know why the strap of my sandal broke?’ He replied he did not know at which he said, ‘It’s because I didn’t perform ghusl for the Friday prayers.’ The pharmacist said, ‘There’s a bath here that you can enter.’ He said yes, entered it and then performed ghusl.

Abu Ishaq al-Riqqi, who was one of the contemporaries of Junayd, said, “The sign of Allah’s love is giving preference to his obedience and following His Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).”

Abu Ya‘qub al-Naharjawri said, “The best of states (ahwal) are those which go hand in hand with knowledge.”

Abu al-Qasim al-Nasrabadhi — the shaykh of Khurasan in his time — said, “The core of Tasawwuf is clinging to the Book and the Sunnah, abandoning desires and bid‘ah, honouring the miracles of the shaykhs, making excuses for people, continuing with one’s litanies (awrad), and abandoning the use of dispensations (rukhsah) and inappropriate explanations (ta’wilat).”

Abu Bakr al-Tamastani — one of the senior shaykhs of the group — said, “The path is clear, and the Book and the Sunnah are with us. The superiority of the Companions is known due to their superseding in Hijrah and their companionships (suhbah). He who remains with the Book and the Sunnah, withdraws from his carnal self and people, and migrates with his heart to Allah, then he is a truthful and correct individual.”

Abu ‘Amr ibn Nujayd said, “Each spiritual state (hal) that is not the outcome of knowledge, its harm on the person experiencing is more than its benefit.” He also said, “Tasawwuf is remaining patient in the face of those actions that have been ordained and forbidden.”

Some of the senior early shaykhs used to say, “Oh community of Sufis, do not separate the black from the white[2] or else you will perish.”

14: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Madarij al-Salikin (vol.2, p.483):

From the stations of “It is you who we worship and it is you from who we seek aid” (1:4) there is the station of firasah (insight/acumen). Allah Most High said, “Indeed, in this are signs for the mutawassimin.” (15:75) Mujahid said the mutawassimin are those who have visual acuity (or firas), Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) said they are those who watch, Qatadah said they are those who learn a lesson (‘ibrah) and Muqatil said they are those who reflect (mutafakkirin).

There is no incompatibility among these views, for indeed the one who watches when he sees the ruins of the buildings of those who falsified [the message], their homes and that which was their outcome, then he inherits insight, learns a lesson and reflects…

Firasah is of three types: Iymaniyyah, which is being spoken about at this point. Its cause is the light (nur) that Allah casts in the heart of His slave with which he differentiates between truth and falsehood, between that which is a spiritual state (hal) and that which is not, and between he who is truthful and he who is not.

Its reality is that it is a thought (khatir) that rushes to the heart and negates that which opposes it. It leaps at the heart like a lion as its prey (farisah). However, [in its linguistic form] farisah is on the pattern of fa‘ilah, which is in the meaning of an object (maf‘ula) whereas firasah is in the pattern of words such as wilayah (authority), imarah (command) and siyasah (administration). This firasah is according to the strength of faith. He who is of strong faith will have sharper firasah.

Abu Sa‘id al-Kharraz said, “He who sees with the light (nur) of firasah, sees with the light of the Truth. His knowledge is the Truth without any neglect and heedlessness. Rather, true judgment flows from the tongue of His slave.”

Al-Wasti said, “Firasah are beams of lights that glimmer in hearts and give the ability to know secrets which are hidden from one to another so much that one witnesses things from where the Truth sees it, and he speaks about the innermost conscience of the creation.”

Al-Darani said, “Firasah is the unravelling of the self and seeing of the unseen, it is from the stations of iman. Some were asked regarding firasah and they said, ‘Souls move around in the malakut and have the honour of coming across the unseen. They speak regarding the secrets of the creation as they have seen and not as they think or expect.’”

‘Amr ibn Nujayd said, Shah al-Kirmani had sharp firasah and was never wrong. He used to say, “Whoever lowers his gaze from that which is prohibited, restrains himself from desires, inculcates his interior with contemplation (muraqabah) and his exterior with adherence to the Sunnah, and accustoms himself to eating halal, then his firasah will never be wrong.”

Abu Ja‘far al-Haddad said, “Firasah is the first thought (khatir) [that comes] without anything that contradicts (mu‘arid); if something of its type opposes it, then it is a khatir and the self speaking.”

Abu Hafs al-Nisaburi said, “It is not the right of anyone to claim to have firasah. However, fear the firasah of others for the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Fear the firasah of a believer, for indeed he sees with the light of Allah.’ He did not say, ‘Seek firasah.’ How can that man who is at a place where firasah should be avoided be correct in his claim of possessing firasah?”

Ahmad ibn ‘Asim al-Antaki said, “When you sit with the people of sincerity, then sit sincerely with them for they spy on hearts, they enter your hearts and take from where you cannot imagine.”

Junayd was one day speaking to the people when an unknown Christian youth stood up and said, “Oh shaykh, what is the meaning of the hadith of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), ‘Fear the firasah of a believer, for indeed he sees with the light of Allah.’” Junayd bowed his head in silence and then raised it towards that youth and said, “Accept Islam, the time for your Islam has come” The youth then accepted Islam.

It is mentioned in some old books, “Indeed, the firasah of a siddiq is never wrong.” Ibn Mas‘ud said, “The people with the sharpest firasah are three: the king of Egypt who purchased Yusuf when he said to his wife, ‘Make his stay comfortable, maybe he will benefit us or we shall adopt him as a son’ (12:21); the daughter of Shu‘ayb when she said to her father regarding Musa, ‘Hire him’ (28:26); and Abu Bakr when he appointed ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) his successor.”

In another narration there is the wife of Fir‘awn when she said, “A comfort of the eye for me and for you. Kill him not, perhaps he may be of benefit to us, or we may adopt him as a son.” (28:29)

Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) is considered to be the one with the greatest firasah in the Ummah and after him was ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased him). Incidents of ‘Umar’s firasah are well known. He would only say regarding something, “I think this is so,” and it would be as he said. It suffices regarding his firasah that the Almighty agreed with him at many well-known times.

Once Sawad ibn Qarib, who Sayyiduna ‘Umar did not know, passed by him, at which ‘Umar said, “Either I am mistaken or this man is a soothsayer or used to know fortunetelling in the Days of Ignorance.” When Sawad sat before ‘Umar, he told him the same, at which Sawad said, “Glory to Allah. Oh Commander of the Faithful, you have never received any of the people who sit by you, the way you received me.” ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “That which we were on in the Days of Ignorance is worse than this. Nevertheless, tell me about that which I ask you.” He replied, “You speak the truth, Oh Commander of the Faithful. I was a soothsayer in the Days of Ignorance.” He then mentioned his story.

Likewise, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) was a man of true firasah. Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I entered on ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) and I had seen a woman on the way whose beauty I had noticed. ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘One of you visits me and the effect of zina can be seen in his eyes.’ So I said, is there revelation (wahy) after the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)? He said, ‘It is, however, insight, proof and true firasah.’”

The firasah of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) was the truest. The root of this type of firasah is obtained from that life and light that Allah Most High bestows on whom he wishes from among His slaves. The heart comes alive and is enlightened; its firasah will hardly be wrong. Allah says, “Is he who was dead and We gave him life and set for him a light with which he may walk among people like he who is in darkness from which he can never come out?” (6:122) The person was dead on account of disbelief and ignorance, and then Allah gave him life through faith and knowledge, he made the Qur’an and iman light for him with which to guide him among people to the straight path and out from darkness …

There are two causes of firasah: One is the excellence of the mind of the person with firasah, and the sharpness of his heart and good intelligence. The second is the appearance of signs and indications on the object of the firasah. When both causes come together, then that person’s firasah will hardly be wrong. When both are not present, then his firasah will hardly be correct. When one of the two is strong and the other weak, then his firasah will be in between.

Iyas ibn Mu‘awiyah was one of those who had great firasah, incidents regarding him are famous, as was the case with Imam al-Shafi‘i regarding whom it is said that he has writings on this issue.

I have seen some wondrous things from the firasah of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him); that which I saw were outstanding and incidents of his firasah require a large book.

He informed his companions that the Tartars had entered the Levant (al-Sham) in 699AH, that the Muslim armies would be uprooted, that there would not be indiscriminate killings in Damascus and nor would people be indiscriminately taken captive, and that the greed and passion of the army will be for wealth. That was even before the Tartars had intended to move.

He then informed the people and rulers in the year 702AH, when the Tartars had moved and were heading for the Levant, that they would be routed and defeated, and that victory and triumph would be for the Muslims. He also swore on that more than seventy times. He would be asked to say, insha-Allah, at which he would say, “Insha-Allah, in the sense that it will happen and not in the sense that it is suspended.” I heard him say this.

He said, “When they rallied against me, I told them not to do so. Allah Most High has written this in the Preserved Tablet (al-Lawh al-Mahfuz) that on this occasion they will be defeated and that victory is for the armies of Islam.”

He said, “I fed some princes and soldiers the sweetness of victory before they had even left to meet the enemy.” His minor firasah in these two incidents were like rain.

When he was summoned to Egypt and his murder was intended — this was after his abilities became known and they had plotted against him — his companions gathered to bid him farewell. They said, “Many letters have reached us that the people are plotting to murder you.” He said, “I swear by Allah, they will never be able to do so.” They said, “Will you be imprisoned?” He said, “Yes, and the incarceration will be lengthy. Then I shall come out and speak of the Sunnah in front of people.” I heard him say that.

When his enemy, the one titled Jashnakir,[3] took over the country, people informed him and said, “Now he will do what he wishes with you.” At this he performed a sajdah of thanks to Allah and made it lengthy. He was then asked what the reason behind the prostration was. He said, “This is the beginning of his disgrace, the separation of his dignity from now and the closeness of the end of his rule.” He was asked when this would be. He said, “The army’s horses will hardly be bound to eat fodder on qurt (a species of plant fed to horses), but his kingdom shall be overrun.” It happened as he informed. I heard this from him.

He once said, “My companions and others enter upon me and I see in their faces and eyes things which I do not mention to them.” So I said to him, “What if you informed others apart from me?” So he said, “Do you wish that I become a fortune-teller like those of the rulers?”

I once said to him, “If you were to treat us according to what you see, then that would be more conducive in [making us] steadfast and piety.” He said, “You won’t be able to bear me for even a Friday.” Or he said a month.

On more than one occasion he informed me of such inner things about me that I had intended to do and not spoken about. He told of some major incidents that were to happen in the future but did not determine a time for them. I have seen some of them occur and await the rest. What his major companions witnessed of this is much more than what I have seen. Allah is the most knowledgeable.

15: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Madarij al-Salikin (vol.3, p.68) after detailed discussion about the Station of Wajd (Ecstasy):

Its levels are four. The weakest is taw’ajud, which is a type of unnatural behaviour, affectation and taking pains to bring it on … The second level is mawajid, which is the result of litanies (awrad) and their fruit. The third level is wajd, which is the fruit of the actions of the hearts such as to love for Allah’s sake and hate for Allah’s sake; this is like how the Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has made the result of Allah and His Messenger being the most beloved to a slave.

The fruit of loving for His sake and dislike to return to disbelief is like one who hates to be cast in the fire; this wajd is the fruit of the actions of the heart which are to love for Allah’s sake and dislike for His sake.

The fourth level is wujud, which is the highest pinnacle of ihsan. One ascends to it from the station of ihsan. When the seeing of his Lord overcomes his heart until he reaches a point as if he is seeing Him, and he becomes firmly established in that, then he has earned an ability that suppresses the commands of his inner self which then change into different commands and a new temperament until he is raised afresh in a way that is different to his first upbringing and he is born anew.

From among those things that are mentioned regarding Sayyiduna ‘Isa (peace be upon him) is that he said, “Oh Children of Israel, you shall never enter the realm of the heavens until you are born a second time.” I have heard Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah mercy him) mention this and explain that “birth” is of two types — one is the conventional one, and the other is the birth of the heart and soul and their leaving the carnal self and the darkness of [one’s] temperament.

He said, “When this birth is on account of the Prophet then he is like a father for the believers. Ubayy Ibn Ka‘b (may Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘The Prophet is more dear to the believers than themselves, he is a father to them.’” Ibn Taymiyyah said, “And the meaning of this verse of the Qur’an, ‘His wives are their mothers,’ (33:6) is that the motherhood of the wives of the Prophet in respect to the believers is established when the Prophet’s fatherhood is established.” He said, “The shaykh, teacher and educator (mu’addib) is the father of the soul, whereas the biological father is the father of the body.”

16: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Madarij al-Salikin (vol.3, p.128):

Abu Isma‘il al-Hirawi writes, “Time (waqt) is a receptacle (zarf) for events (kawn).” Time, according to the theologians (mutakallimin), consists of the joining of one event with another; it is the relation between two events.

His saying that time is a receptacle for events means it is a vessel for that which is created (takwin). It is a vessel, of time, in which that which has been created falls into. It is like the zarf of place in which the body comes into. However, “time” in the nomenclature of the Community is more specific than that.

Abu ‘Ali al-Daqqaq said, “Waqt (according to the Community of Sufis) is that which you are in. If you are involved in the world, then your time is the world. If you are involved in the hereafter, then your time is the hereafter. If you are in joy, then your time is happiness. If you are in sorrow, then your time is sorrow.” What he means is that waqt is that which has overcome the person at that time. It could at times mean that waqt is what is between the two tenses — the past and the future. This is the terminology of the majority of the Community. This is why they say, the Sufi and faqir is the son of his time (ibn al-waqt).

What they mean is that his ambition is such that he does not go beyond that which is the most superior thing for him to do and most beneficial for him. He does that which is sought from him at the time and continuing hour. He has no care for the past and what is coming, but cares for the time he is in, for indeed preoccupying one’s self with the past and the future wastes the present time; whenever a time comes, he is preoccupied with the [other] two, and so all of his time has passed.

Imam al-Shafi‘i (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I remained in the company of the Sufis and did not benefit from them in anything except two sentences. I heard them say, ‘Time is a sword, if you don’t tear it apart, it will tear you.’ And, ‘If you don’t preoccupy yourself with the truth then it (yourself) will preoccupy you in falsehood.’”

I say: how excellent are these sentences. How beneficial, concise and representative are they regarding the lofty aspirations of he who uttered them and his vigilance. Al-Shafi‘i’s praise of this Group, in relation to the value of their words, suffices in this matter.

Some of them have divided the Sufis into four types: Ashab al-Sawabiq, Ashab al-‘Awaqib, Ashab al-Waqt and Ashab al-Haqq. As for the Ashab al-Sawabiq, their hearts are always involved in that which has preceded them from Allah because of their knowledge that the eternal decree (al-hukm al-azali) will not change due to that which the slave earns [in deeds]. They say that he who has been driven far by that fate that has preceded him, then no means will draw him close. Their thoughts will always be in that. In spite of that, they strive earnestly to perform those actions that they have been ordered to do, abstain from those actions that they have been told not to do, and gain proximity to Allah in different ways without relying on them and having regard for them. One of them said:

How can I please you, save that you grant me divine accordance,

What an idea and how wrong it is, divine accordance is not from me,

If I don’t have something that has preceded me in fate,

Then there is no benefit in that deed of mine that I have sent forth.

As for the Ashab al-‘Awaqib, they are in contemplation of that state in which their affairs will end for indeed all affairs are according to their last, actions are according to their end, and the final outcome (‘aqibah) is concealed. It is as it is said:

Let not good times deceive you,

For beneath them lie hidden difficulties.

How many seasons of spring were there — the trees of which became bright, the flowers of which blossomed and the fruits of which matured — on which heavenly calamity befell and it became as Allah Most High has said, “… Until when the earth took on its ornament and was fully adorned, and its people thought that they had control over it, Our command came to it at night or by day, and We turned it into a stubble, as if it had not been there a day earlier. This is how We elaborate the verses for a people who reflect.” (10:24)

How many murid is there who stumbled in spite of the excellence of his firm intention,

He fell onto the ground with hands and jaw dropping.

It was said to some of them, who had been seen doing that which is contrary to what they had pledged, “What happened to you?” So they replied, “There was a veil,” and recited:

You thought well of the days when they were good,

And you did not fear the wickedness which fate would bring,

The nights made peace with you and that deluded you,

And in the serenity of the nights grief strikes,

There is no amazement at how those who perished did so,

Amazement is only for those who were saved; how were they rescued?

You wonder at my illness, when it is my health that is surprising.

Those who retreated backwards are many, more than those who plunged into difficulties:

Take one from the thousand,

And cast away the rest after him.

As to the Ashab al-Waqt, they do not preoccupy themselves with what has preceded or that state in which their affairs will end. Rather, they preoccupy themselves by taking due care of the current time and that which is incumbent on them at that time. They say that the ‘arif is the son of his time (ibn al-waqt); there is no past for him and no future. Some of them saw Sayyiduna Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) in their dreams and asked him for advice. He said, “Be a son of your time.”

As to the Ashab al-Haqq, they are the people of time and place; they possess them and direct them. They have been gripped, by seeing Him, away from viewing time. They do not become unoccupied to consider the time or the place. The issue is like it is said:

I am not aware whether my night has become prolonged or not,

How can he who is of little worth know of that?

If I were to free myself to prolong my night,

And observe the stars, then I would be a disgrace.

Surely, the lovers are so busy in love that they care not for the shortening of the night or its lengthening. Junayd said, “I entered on Sarri one day and asked him, ‘How was your morning?’ He then recited a poem:

I don’t have any relief in the day or the night,

I don’t care if the night is long or short.

He then said, ‘There is no night or day by your Lord.’” What he means is that he cares not for time, but is with He who determines the night and day.

17: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Madarij al-Salikin (vol.3, p.334):

Section — The author of Manazil writes in Bab al-Ma‘rifah (Chapter regarding Ma‘rifah), “Allah Most High says, ‘When they hear that which has been revealed to the Prophet, you see their eyes flowing with tears on account of the truth they have recognised.’ (5:83) The meaning of ma‘rifah is encompassing something as it is…”

The difference between ‘ilm and ma‘rifah according to the people of this matter[4] is this: ma‘rifah according to them is that knowledge whose prerequisites and demands the one who possesses it undertakes. Hence, the word ma‘rifah will not just be used in the meaning of knowledge. Rather, only he who knows Allah, the path that leads to Allah and the harms and highwaymen on the path will be ascribed as having ma‘rifah; he who is in a State (hal) with Allah that testifies that he has ma‘rifah.

The ‘arif, according to them, is he who has recognised Allah Most High together with His names, qualities and actions. He has then been truthful to Allah in his deeds, and been sincere to Him in his goals and intentions. He has then cast off from his manners vile traits and harms, and then purified himself from his impurities, dirt and sins. He has then been patient in completing what Allah has ordained him to do in both good and difficult times, and has then called towards Him with insight into his religion and verses. He has then confined the da‘wah to Him alone in that which His Messenger brought, and did not mix it with the views of men, their tasting [of spiritual bliss] (dhawq), ecstatic states (mawajid), syllogisms (maqayis) and rationalist studies (ma‘qulat), nor does he bring them on par with that which the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) came with.

This is the person who deserves to be called an ‘arif in reality when others are being called such pretentiously and metaphorically. They (the people of this knowledge) have spoken regarding ma‘rifah in terms of its signs and examples. Some of them said, “Among the signs of ma‘rifah of Allah is the acquisition of veneration for Him; whoever’s ma‘rifah increases, so will his veneration.” They also said, “Ma‘rifah necessitates serenity (sukun); whoever’s ma‘rifah increases, so will his serenity.”

One of our companions asked me, “What is the sign of the ma‘rifah that they speak of?” I told him, “For the heart to feel tranquil with Allah.” He said to me, “Its sign is that one feels his heart is close to Allah and he finds himself close to Him.”

Al-Shibli said, “An ‘arif has no bonds [with anything], a lover has no complaints, a slave has no claims, he who is scared is not settled, and there is no escape for anyone from Allah.” These words are excellent. For indeed, true ma‘rifah separates all relations from the heart and connects it to He Who he recognizes so there does not remain any connection with anything apart from He. Other connections do not pass by him, except that they continue ahead hastily, they do not pass as though they want to settle…

It is said, “The [state of the] ‘arif is above what he says and the [the state of the] ‘alim is above what he says.” The meaning of this is that the knowledge of the ‘alim is more vast than his [actual] condition and state, while the condition and state of the ‘arif is above what he speaks and informs of.

Abu Sulayman al-Darani said, “Allah Most High opens for the ‘arif while in his bed such things that he does not reveal to him while he is standing offering salah.” Someone said, “The ‘arif speaks of ma‘rifah through his heart and state while silent.” Dhu al-Nun said, “Everything has a punishment, and the punishment of the ‘arif is his being cut off from the dhikr of Allah.”

Some said, “The ostentation (riya) of the ‘arifs is better than the sincerity of the murids.” This is a sentence that is, on the outset, deeply abominable and in need of explanation: the ‘arif does not show off to people with an aim of seeking a position in his heart; his ostentation is only a means of advice, guidance and instruction to be followed. He calls to Allah through his actions in the same way that he calls towards Him through his words. He benefits himself with his knowledge and others also benefit from him.

The sincerity of the murid [on the other hand] is confined to himself. The ‘arif combines sincerity and da‘wah to Allah. His sincerity is in his heart and he expresses his knowledge and spiritual state so that he may be followed. The ‘arif benefits in silence, while the ‘alim only benefits through his words — and if they were to remain calm then realities would once more open to them.

Dhu al-Nun said, “The ascetics are the kings of the hereafter and they are the poverty stricken ones (fuqara) among the ‘arifs.” Junayd was asked regarding the ‘arif. He said, “The colour of water is the colour of its vessel.” This sentence is indicative of what the reality of servitude (‘abudiyyah) is: that is to become coloured by the colour of the different types of servitude. While you see him offering salah, you also see him performing dhikr, or as a reciter of the Qur’an (qari), or as a teacher, or as a student, or as a mujahid, or as a haji, or as someone who helps the weak or provides aid to the one who is worried. He takes part in every act of goodness. With those who are concerned with their livelihood (mutasabbib) he is a mutasabbib, with those who are students he is a student, with the ghazis he is a ghazi, with those who offer salah he is a musalli, and with those who offer alms he is one of them. In the stations of servitude, he moves from one type of servitude to another. But he is firmly established on one object of worship, he does not move to another…

Abu Sa‘id said, “Ma‘rifah comes from Allah and through effort.” This sentence is excellent, it indicates that ma‘rifah is the fruit of the efforts in completing actions (‘amal) and the manifestation of wajd in spiritual states; this is the outcome of the actions of the limbs. The spiritual state [experienced by] the heart cannot be attained just by knowledge and discussion. He who has no ‘amal and spiritual state, for him is no ma‘rifah

Some of the predecessors said, “The sleep of the ‘arif is wakefulness, his breathing is tasbih, and the sleep of an ‘arif is superior than the prayer of one who is heedless (ghafil) of his Lord.” The sleep of an ‘arif is only wakefulness because his heart is alive while his eyes sleep and his soul is in prostration beneath the throne of his Lord and Creator. His body is in bed while his heart is around the throne. His sleep is only superior to the salah of the ghafil because the body of he who is ghafil is standing in prayer while his heart is in the lavatories of the world and in [worldly] aspirations. That is why his wakefulness is a [type of] sleep, because his heart is dead.

It is said that the company of the ‘arifs call you from six things to six: from doubt to firm belief (yaqin), from ostentation (riya) to sincerity (ikhlas), from heedlessness (ghaflah) to remembrance (dhikr), from yearning for the world to yearning for the hereafter, from pride to humility, and from bad thoughts to friendly advice.

18: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Madarij al-Salikin (vol.3, p.110):

He (Shaykh Abu Isma‘il al-Hirawi) said, “The second level is observing the light of revelation (nur al-kashf) and this level drapes the cloth of turning [to Allah], gives the taste of illumination (tajalli) and protects from the defect of being diverted from His remembrance.”

This level is more complete than the one before it, for that level involved: observing that which preceded it with the light of knowledge (nur al-‘ilm). This level is observing revelation (kashf) in a state (hal) that has taken possession over his heart until it diverts him away from the creation. The cloth of his turning to Allah alone and turning away from everything apart from Him has been draped over him.

The light of revelation (nur al-kashf) according to them is the beginning of shuhud and it is a light that manifests the meanings of the Al-Asma al-Husna upon the heart by which the darkness of the heart becomes enlightened and with which the veil of revelation is lifted. Do not turn to anything apart from this otherwise [your] foot will slip after becoming firm.

You will surely find in the writings of some of them that the manifestation of the divine essence (tajalli al-dhat) necessitates this and that, and that the manifestation of the divine attributes (tajalli al-sifat) necessitates this and that, and that the manifestation of the divine actions (tajalli al-af‘al) necessitates this and that. The Community is only concerned with words, and so some presume that they mean that the manifestation of divine essence, divine attributes and divine actions is done through the physical eye. Hence, some of them fall into words of ecstasy (shatahat) and ruin. Those who are sincere (sadiq) and the a‘rifs are innocent of this.

They (the Community) are only pointing towards perfect ma‘rifah, the raising of veils of heedlessness (ghaflah), doubt and turning away [from Allah], and the power of ma‘rifah taking over the heart by removing the seeing of everything totally [apart from Him]. The heart will not witness anything save He.

They see this in the rising of the sun — when the radiance of the stars fades, the stars do not cease to exist. The light of the sun only eclipses them and it seems they do not exist when in reality they are present in their places. Likewise, when the light of ma‘rifah takes over the heart, its power becomes strong, and hindrances and veils are removed from the heart. Only he who is not of this (min ahlihi) would repudiate this.

Only he who is in err and has no knowledge believes that the Pure Essence (Allah) and His Qualities appear and manifest for the slave like He Most High manifested Himself to Mount Tur and as He will manifest Himself on the Day of Reckoning to people. There are many who have transgressed from the light (nur) of worship, spiritual struggle and dhikr to the nur of His Essence and Qualities.

Surely, correct worship, spiritual exercises that are in conformity with the Shari‘ah and that dhikr which works hand in hand with the heart and the tongue necessitates light (nur) according to the person’s strength and weakness. Sometimes that nur becomes so strong that it can be seen with the eyes, and so he who is weak in differentiating between godly characteristics and those characteristics that are in accordance with servitude falls into err. As a result, he thinks that is the nur of Allah. How wrong is this.

There is nothing that can tolerate the light (nur) of the Essence (Allah). If He Most High were to remove a veil from Himself then the entire universe would crumble like the mountain crumbled and became level when He revealed to it a small portion of His tajalli.

Islam has a nur and iman has a type of nur that is stronger than it; and ihsan has a nur that is stronger than both. When Islam, iman and ihsan gather, and those veils that preoccupy one away from Allah Most High are removed, then hearts and limbs become full of that nur; not with the nur that is the quality (sifah) of Allah Most High. For indeed his qualities do not enter any part of His creation in the same way His creation do not enter Him. The Creator Most High is separate from the creation in His essence and qualities; there is no union (ittihad), incarnation (hulul) and embodiment. Allah is Most High from all of that.

19: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Madarij al-Salikin (vol.3, p.99):

His saying, “… and the tasting (dhawq) of conversing at night (musamarah) is a sense of personal relish.” What they mean by musamarah is the conversing of the heart with its Lord even though the tongue is silent and the pleasure of His Most High’s dhikr and love over the slave’s heart, his presence in front of Him, his familiarity with and proximity to Him until he is as if he is speaking and conversing with him at night — at times presenting an excuse to Him, at times flattering Him and at times praising Him until the heart is left saying without any constraints, “You are Allah, there is no deity save You.” Rather, this remains the state and position. The Community has not repudiated reaching this [stage] for the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Ihsan is that you worship Allah as if you are seeing him.” When he reaches, in the stage of ihsan, a position in which it is as if he is seeing Allah Most High, then his conversation and intimate talk with Him will be like this.

20: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Madarij al-Salikin (vol.2, p.459):

From the stations of “It is you who we worship and it is you from who we seek aid” (1:4) there is the station of ihsan, which is the essence of iman, its spirit and perfection. This station gathers all of the stations; all of them are enveloped in it. Everything that has been mentioned from the beginning of this book till here is a part of ihsan.

These are twenty excellent quotes that have been selected from various portions of Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim’s great book, Madarij al-Salikin, the commentary of Manazil al-Sa’irin. The entire book is full of invaluable treasures relating to different issues of Tasawwuf. Now we shall mention some examples of his writings relating to Tasawwuf and the Sufi shaykhs from some of his other books, and this shall be done, insha-Allah, with much brevity.

 

21: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Rawdat al-Muhibbin wa Nuzhat al-Mushtaqin (p.406):

He who has recognised Allah, then there is nothing more beloved for him than He; he has no yearning in anything apart from Him save that which brings him close to Him and assists him in his journey to Him.

Among the signs of ma‘rifah is awe (haybah); whenever a slave’s ma‘rifah of his Lord increases, then is awe for him and fear of him increases. It is as Allah Most High has said, “Only those of His servants with knowledge (‘ulama) have fear of Allah.” (35:28) In other words those who have knowledge of Him.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “I am the most knowledgeable of Allah among you and the most fearful of Him among you.” He who recognises Allah, Allah will make his life pure, everything will fear him, the fear of the creation will leave him, he will take pleasure in Allah and feel distaste for the world. Ma‘rifah will bestow on him a sense of shame from Allah, veneration for Him, honour, contemplation, love, reliance (tawakkul) on Him, devotion (inabah) to Him, and a sense of happiness and acceptance of His command. It was said to Junayd (may Allah Most High mercy Him), “Surely, there are communities in such a place who say that they reach piety by abandoning actions.” Junayd said, “These people speak of abandoning actions (‘amal) and that for me is a serious matter. He who commits adultery and steals is better than he who says this. Those who know Allah (the ‘arifs) have taken actions from Allah and it is Allah towards Whom they return through them. Even if a thousand years were left, I would not leave any action of piety.”

He said, “An ‘arif will not be a true ‘arif until he becomes like the ground which the pious and wicked trample, and like rain which waters what it likes and what it doesn’t.” Yahya ibn Mu‘adh said, “The ‘arif will leave the world and his desire for two things will never cease: his weeping over his self and his yearning for His Lord.” Some of them said, “An ‘arif can never be a true ‘arif until he reaches a state that if he were to be given the kingdom of Sulayman (peace be upon him), then that would not preoccupy him from Allah for even the duration of the blinking of an eye.” It was said, “The ‘arif becomes intimate with Allah and feels estranged from everything apart from Him. He shows need for Allah and so He suffices him away from the creation. He lowers himself for Allah and so Allah grants him honour among people.” Abu Sulayman al-Darani said, “That is revealed to the ‘arif in his bed which is not revealed to him while standing and offering prayers.” Dhu al-Nun said, “Everything has a punishment, and the punishment of the ‘arif is separation from the remembrance of Allah.”

In sum, the life of the heart is by remaining with Allah; the heart shall never have life without this. When the tongue is in agreement with the heart in His dhikr and the heart is in agreement with the aims of His Beloved; and when he considers, for His sake, an abundance of oral and physical deeds as very little, while considering that little kindness and generosity from Him great; and when he embraces obedience and leaves disobedience; and when he rebels against his self for his Beloved so much there is nothing of himself left; and when he fills his heart with veneration and honour for Him, preferring His pleasure (rida); and when abstaining from Him is too much to bear for him; and when existence without His dhikr and eagerness and yearning for Him is nothing; and when he only finds happiness in His dhikr, respects His orders and gives preference to Him, then he is a true lover.

Junayd said, I heard Hairth al-Muhasabi say, “Love is your total affection for something; then your preferring Him over yourself, your soul and your wealth; then your agreement with Him in private and in public; and then your knowledge of your shortcomings in loving Him.”

It was said, “Love is a fire in the heart that burns everything apart from the wish of the beloved from the lover.” It was said, “Rather, it is the exerting of all efforts in pleasing the beloved. It will not be complete except by coming away from seeing love to seeing the beloved.” It comes in some divine messages, “My slave, I am — I swear by your right — your lover, for the sake of my right over you be my lover.”

‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak said, “Whoever is given a little love and no fear that is equal to it, then such a person is deluded.” Yahya ibn Mu‘adh said, “An iota of love is more beloved to me than seventy years of worship devoid of love.”

Abu Bakr al-Kattani said, “The issue of love was discussed in Makkah during the Haj and the shaykhs[5] spoke regarding it. Junayd was the youngest among them and so they said, Bring what you have Oh Iraqi. He lowered his head and his eyes flowed with tears. He then said, ‘A slave who ignores his nafs, he is connected to the remembrance of his Lord, he is firm in fulfilling His rights, he looks at Him with his heart, his heart is burnt by the radiance of His Essence (huwiyyah), he is totally dedicated to drinking from the glass of His love. If he were to speak then he does so for Allah, if he utters something then that is from Allah, if he moves then that is with the instruction of Allah, if he remains silent then that is with Allah — such a person is for and with Allah.’ The shaykhs wept and said, ‘Is there anything more than that? May Allah suffice you Oh crown of the ‘arifs (taj al-‘arifin).’”

It was said that Allah revealed to Sayyiduna Dawud (peace be upon him), “Oh Dawud, I have forbidden it on hearts that my love and the love of others should enter them.” All of the ‘arifs are agreed that love will not be correct except with agreement (muwafaqah), so much so that some of them said, “The reality of love is agreeing to the beloved in all that pleases and displeases Him.” The Community[6] is agreed that love will not be correct except by their being one beloved.

It was narrated that a man claimed to be annihilated in the love of a person. So the beloved said to the man, “How can this be when my brother has a better face than I and is more beautiful?” So the man turned to the brother, at which the youth pushed him and said, “Oh, is it that he who claims affection for us looks to others apart from us?”

Love was mentioned to Dhu al-Nun who said, “Desist from this issue. Do not allow the carnal self to hear it otherwise it will claim it.” He then recited the following poem:

Fear and sorrow is preferred for the wrongdoer when he applies himself to devotion,

Love becomes intense through hardship and purification from dirt.

Samnun said, “Those who love Allah have taken the honour of this world and the hereafter. Surely, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘A man shall be with he who he loves.’ They are with Allah in this world and the hereafter.” Yahya ibn Mu‘adh said, “He who claims His love and then does not respect His limits is not truthful.”

Love is a tree in the heart, its roots are in humility for the Beloved, its trunk is in His ma‘rifah, its branches are fear for him, its leaves are being ashamed of him, its fruit is obedience to Him, and the substance that waters it is His dhikr. When love is empty of any of these things, then it is incomplete.

Allah Most High has described himself that he loves His believing slaves and that they love Him. He is informed that they are intense in love for Allah. He has described Himself that He is the Most Loving (Wadud) and the Beloved (Habib). Al-Bukhari has said this. Al-Wud (the infinitive of the word Wadud) is pure love for He loves His believing slaves and they love Him…”

If there were no love of Allah — save it will save His beloved from His punishment — then it is apt to say that the slave would never be able to substitute it with anything. It was said to one of the ‘ulama, “Where do you find in the Qur’an that the Beloved will not punish His beloved?” So he said, “In His Most High’s saying, ‘The Jews and the Christian said, We are the sons of Allah and His beloved. Say, Why did He punish you on account of your sins?’” (5:18)

Imam Ahmad reported from Isma‘il ibn Yunus from Hasan (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “I swear by Allah, Allah will not punish His beloved. However, he will test him in the world.” Imam Ahmad said, Sayyar narrated to us from Ja‘far from Abu Ghalib: It is narrated to us that the following words were in the advice of ‘Isa ibn Maryam (peace be upon him) to his disciples: “Oh my companions, gain the love of Allah by disliking the people of sin. Draw close to Him by showing hatred towards them. Seek His pleasure by being angry with them.” They asked Him, “Oh Prophet of Allah, who shall we spend our time with?” He replied, “Spend time with those whose speech leads you to good deeds, those whose seeing reminds you of Allah and whose knowledge draws you away from the world.” …

‘Abd al-Wahid ibn Zayd said narrating from Hasan, “If the ‘abids were to know that they shall not see their Lord in the hereafter, then they would dwindle away in this world.” Hisham ibn Hassan narrated from Hasan that “He Most High will appear for the people of paradise and when they see Him they shall forget the bounties of paradise.” The most astonishing type of patience is the patience of the lovers. A poet says,

And patience is praised in all places,

Save in you, for surely it is not praised then.

A man came to al-Shibli and asked, “Which form of patience is most difficult on those who exhibit patience?” He said, “Patience in Allah.” The questioner said, “No.” So al-Shibli said, “Patience for Allah.” He said, “No.” So al-Shibli said, “Patience with Allah.” He said, “No.” So al-Shibli said, “Then what is it?” He said, “Patience from [seeing] Allah.” Al-Shibli screamed in such a way that it was close he might die. A poet said,

Patience from you, its outcomes are blameworthy,

When patience in all things is praiseworthy.

Fear takes you far from His disobedience, hope bring you to His obedience and love drives you towards Him. Because Allah Most High knows that the hearts of those who yearn Him do not become calm except by meeting Him, he has set a time for meeting to give peace to their hearts. Allah Most High says, “Whoever hopes to meet Allah (must be sure that) Allah’s appointed time has to come, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” (29:5)

Oh he who has complained of his yearning due to his prolonged separation,

Bare patience, you might meet He Who you love tomorrow,

Journey towards Him striving hard with the fire of yearning,

Perhaps you shall find a way at the fire of yearning.

The most consoling thing for the eyes of the lover is his remaining in solitude, along with his heart, with his Beloved. Those who saw our shaykh in his bloom have narrated to me that he would head out towards the wilderness in the morning and when he reached the desert he would heave a deep sigh and then he would be as the poet says,

I come out from between the houses so that I may

Speak regarding you with the heart in secret and unhindered.

Yearning (shawq) makes the lover hasten to please the beloved and hasten towards Him at once, even though his destruction may be in doing so. “What caused you to hurry before your people Oh Musa? He said, Here they are just behind me, and I have hurried to you, my Lord, so you may be pleased.” (20:83-84)

Some of them said, “He intended yearning You, which he concealed through the word ‘to please’ (rida)…”

And if it is said to a lover, “What do you desire?” He would say, “Meeting the beloved.”

And when we settled at a place that the dew had moistened, making it beautiful and a garden adorned with light,

The pleasance of the place and its beauty renewed our desires and it was you who was the object of our longing.

Junayd said, “I heard Sarri say, ‘Yearning (shawq) is the greatest station of an ‘arif when it becomes a reality in him. When he becomes firm in yearning, then he turns his attention away from everything that preoccupies him from He who he yearns.’”

It was said, Allah Most High revealed to Dawud (peace be upon him), “Tell the youth of the Children of Israel: Why do you preoccupy yourselves with that apart from Me while I desire you. What is this aversion? If those who turn away from Me were to know of My wait for them, My gentleness with them, My love that they abandon sins, then they would die yearning for Me and their limbs would become severed on account of My love. If that is my wish for those who turn their backs on Me, then what is my desire for those who turn to me?”

Junayd was asked, “Why does the lover cry when he meets the Beloved?” He responded, “That is only on account of happiness in Him, and ecstasy in severely yearning Him.” He said, “It reached me that two boys hugged each other and one of them said, ‘O, how great is his yearning (shawq)’ And the other said, ‘O, how great is his passion (wajd).’”

There was an old lady whose relative was absent. He returned from a journey and her family expressed happiness and delight at his return. She then began to cry and so it was said to her, “What is this weeping?” She said, “The arrival of this youth has reminded me of the day of arriving to Allah.”

Some of the lovers said, “The hearts of those who yearn are enlightened with the light (nur) of Allah. When their yearning stirs, a light radiates between the heavens and the earth. Allah Most High presents these people to the angels and says, ‘They are those who yearn for Me. I make you witness that I yearn for them.’”

22: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Al-Fawa’id[7] (p.55):

A Precious Gem — Between the slave, Allah and paradise lies a bridge that can be crossed with two steps: a step away from his nafs and a step away from people; he should nullify his nafs and eliminate it in those matters between himself and people, and he should nullify people and eliminate them in those matters between himself and Allah. He should only turn to he who guides him to Allah and that path that leads to Him…

There is no place of solitude (khalwah) in this abode, so make it (the place of khalwah) in your self. Surely, fascinating things will tempt you, know them and be on the guard. Preoccupations will not harm you when you remain in solitude from them while you are involved in them: the light of the Truth (haqq) is brighter than the sun, and it is only befitting for he who is dim sighted that he turns away from it.

The way to Allah is clear of those who have doubt and those who follow their desires; it is full of those who have certainty (ahl al-yaqin) and patience. They are like signposts on the road. “And We made from among them leaders, who gave guidance under Our Command when they used to be patient and believe with certainty in our signs.” (32:24)

23: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Al-Fawa’id (p.59):

A Precious Gem — Allah Most High says, “As for those who strive hard in Us, We will surely guide them to Our Ways.” (26:69). He Most High has connected guidance (hidayah) to jihad. The most perfect of people in terms guidance is he who is the greatest in jihad. The most obligatory form of jihad is the jihad against the nafs, the jihad against desires, the jihad against Satan and the jihad against the material world. He who fights these four for Allah, then Allah will guide him to the paths of His pleasure, which will bring him to His paradise. He who leaves jihad, then he will miss out on guidance according to that extent he was away from jihad.

Junayd said, “Those who strive hard against their desires in Our way by means of repentance, then We will guide to the paths of sincerity.” It is not possible to wage jihad against his enemy on the outside save for he who struggles hard against the enemies within. He who triumphs over them will triumph over his enemy. He whose inner self defeats him, then his enemy will defeat him.

 

24: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Al-Fawa’id (p.117):

Section — The sign of good iradah[8] is when the aspiration of the murid is pleasing his Lord, preparing to meet Him, grief over that time that has passed in anything other than pleasing him, and sorrow over that time passed in anything other than drawing close to Him and feeling delighted with Him. In sum, there is no interest apart from Him in the morning and evening.

25: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Al-Fawa’id (p.170):

The ma‘rifah of Allah Most High is of two types: ma‘rifah of confession (iqrar), and that is the one in which all people are participant — the pious and impious, and the obedient and disobedient. The second is that ma‘rifah that necessitates being shy of Him, showing love to Him, attaching the heart to Him, yearning to meet Him, fearing Him, turning to Him, being close to Him and fleeing from the creation towards Him. This is the special ma‘rifah that is on the tongues of the Community.[9] Their various levels in it can only be enumerated by He Who informed them about Himself and revealed to their hearts a portion of His ma‘rifah that He had disclosed from those apart from them.

Each has described this ma‘rifah according to his stage and that which revealed to him from it. The one with the most ma‘rifah from the creation said regarding it, “I cannot praise you, you are as you praise yourself.” He also informed that He Most High will reveal to him some of his words of praise on the Day of Reckoning which he is unable to pronounce now…

Section — ignorance of the path, its difficulties and the purpose causes much hardship and little benefit, because the person may exert great effort in performing a supererogatory (nafl) duty while neglecting an obligatory (fard) duty, or in performing an action that is connected to the limbs and is not in agreement with the action of the heart, or an action that is connected to the inner self while the outward self is not bound to conformity, or in a sense of determination to carry out an action without being clear in observing the purpose, or in performing an action without being cautious of its evil consequences while doing it and thereafter, or in carrying out an action in which he is heedless of seeing divine kindness [in performing it] and does not free himself from adjoining his self in its performance, or in an action in which no shortcomings were seen and thereafter he makes excuses for it, or in an action in which he has not fulfilled his due in advice and kindness and he thinks he has fulfilled its due. All of these are among those things that lessen the benefit in spite of much difficulty. It is Allah Who grants accordance.

Section — When the servant makes firm intention to travel towards Allah Most High and fulfil His will, many delusions and hindrances will confront him. At first, he will be deceived by desires, high posts, pleasures, prospective brides and clothes.

If he remains occupied with them, then he will be separated, and if he rejects them, does not occupy himself with them and is sincere in his quest, then he will be tried by people following him, kissing his hand, making space for him in gatherings, requesting him for du‘a, hoping to gain his barakah and the like.

If he remains occupied with that, then he will be separated from Allah and that will be his lot. If he were to separate himself from that and not remain with that, then he would be tested with miracles (karamat) and kashf. If he occupies himself with them, then he would be separated from Allah and that would be his lot and if he were not to occupy himself with them, then he would be tested by renunciation, solitude, the pleasure of being with Allah, and the honour of being alone and free from the world.

If he were to become occupied with that, then he would be cut off from the purpose, and if he were not to become occupied with that and walk eyes set towards that purpose that Allah has set for him and that which He would like of him, in a way that His slave performs that which He loves and prefers where ever it is and however it is, regardless if he becomes tired by it or feels at rest, in luxury or pain, and regardless of whether it brings him among the people or separates him from them, then he does not choose for himself anything that his Lord and Master does not choose for him. He stands by his command, completing it as much as possible; his nafs is less important to him that he gives precedent to its comfort and pleasure over the pleasure of his Master and His command.

This would be the servant who has reached [his Master], fulfilled [His order] and nothing has cut him off from his Master at all. Divine accordance is with Allah.

26: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Al-Fawa’id (p.192):

Among those who do dhikr is he who begins with the dhikr of the tongue even if it is with negligence (ghaflah). He continues doing it until his heart is present and they both (the tongue and the heart) do dhikr hand in hand. Among them is he who does not see that and does not begin in spite of his negligence. Rather, he remains calm until his heart is present and then he begins dhikr with his heart. When it becomes strong, then his tongue follows and they all go hand in hand.

The first transports the dhikr from his tongue to his heart, while the second transports from his heart to his tongue without emptying his heart of any dhikr. Rather, he firstly becomes calm until he feels that it should be uttered. When he feels that, his heart speaks. Then the speech of the heart moves to the dhikr of the tongue (dhikr lisani), and then he becomes engrossed in that until he finds every part of him in dhikr.

The most superior dhikr and beneficial is that in which the heart and tongue are together and is from the Prophetic dhikr. The one who performs dhikr has witnessed the meaning and goal of dhikr.

27: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Al-Fawa’id (p.196):

A precious gem — Inabah is devoting the heart to Allah Most High like devoting (i‘tikaf) the body in the mosque without leaving it. The reality of that is devoting the heart to His love and His remembrance with reverence and high esteem, and devoting the limbs to His obedience with sincerity for Him while following His Messenger. He who does not devote his heart to Allah Alone, then he is devoted to various types of images (tamathil).

The imam of the hanifs (Sayyiduna Ibrahim, peace be upon him) said, “What are these images to which you are devoted?” (21:52) He and his community had separated [the meaning of] devotion — the lot of his community was devotion to images and his lot was devotion to the Lord Most High.

The word tamathil is the plural of timthal and they are images representing people. The attachment of the heart to, its preoccupation with and reliance on something apart from Allah [demonstrates] his devotion to images which appear in his heart. It is the example of the devotion to the images of idols. It is because of this that the shirk of those who worship idols is [their] devotion with their hearts, intentions and will to their images. When there are images in the heart which have take possession of it and enslaved it in such a way that it is devoted to them then this heart is an example of the devotion to idols.

It is because of this that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) called such a heart a slave to idols and supplicated that it falls and does not rise. He said, “May the slave of the dinar fall and may the slave of the dirham fall. Let him fall upon his face, and not rise after his fall until he falls again. May he be pricked with a thorn and not extract the thorn.”

People in this abode are on a journey, all of them. Every traveller is transitorily heading towards his purpose and will stop at that host who pleases him. The seeker of Allah and the hereafter is only heading towards Allah during his journey and stops by Him when he reaches Him.

This is his aim in his journey and at its end it will be, “O content soul, return to your Lord, pleased and pleasing unto him. Enter my slave and enter my paradise.” (89:27-30) The wife of Fir‘awn said, “Oh my Lord, build for me a house by you in paradise.” (66:12) She sought a house by him before seeking paradise, indeed your neighbour comes before your home (al-jar qabl al-dar).

From the sayings of Shaykh ‘Ali — “It was said to me while sleeping, in a state that was like wakefulness and wakefulness that was like sleep: Do not show poverty to anyone save Myself, or I will increase it for you in exchange for violating your limit in your servitude. I have tested you with poverty so you may become pure gold; so don’t become tainted after you have been minted. I have prescribed poverty for you and wealth for Myself, so if you attach yourself to Me, then I shall attach you to wealth, and if you attach yourself to someone apart from Me, then I shall cut you off from My help to drive you away from My door. Do not depend on something apart from Us for indeed it will be a calamity for you and will ruin you. If you rely on a deed, then We shall reward you. If you rely on ma‘rifah then We shall take it from you. If you rely on wajd then We shall gradually bring you near to punishment (istidraj). If you rely on knowledge then We shall bring you to a standstill, and if you rely on the creation then We shall put you in their trust. Be pleased with Us as your Lord and We shall be pleased with you as a slave.”

28: Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Al-Wabil al-Sayyib min al-Kalim al-Tayyib[10] (p.68):

Allah Most High says, “And do not obey the one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, and who has followed his desire and whose behaviour has been neglectful (furuta).” (18:28) When the slave intends to follow a man, then let him look whether he is of the people of dhikr or those who are heedless (ghafil), and whether desire or revelation are governing him. If that which is governing him is desire and he is heedless then he has been neglectful (furuta). The meaning of furuta has been explained as being “neglectful”: in other words that which was necessary to adhere to and fulfil and in which was his goodness and success was wasted and he was neglectful in their respect.

It has also been explained as exceeding the limits (israf), becoming ruined (ihlak) and also going against the truth. All of these views are close. The purpose is that Allah Most High has prohibited obeying he who has gathered all of these traits. It is apt for a man to look at his shaykh, his exemplar (qudwah) and the person he is following. If he finds him as such then he should remain at distance from him. If he finds him among those upon whom the dhikr of Allah Most High and adherence to the Sunnah has gained ascendancy, that he is not neglectful but prudent, then hold fast to him.

The only difference between he who is alive and he who is dead is through dhikr. The example of he who remembers his Lord and he does not is the example of the living and the dead…

He Most High said, “Say (on My behalf) ‘Oh My servants who believe, fear your Lord. Those who do good deeds in this world will have a good return, and the earth of Allah is wide. Certainly those who observe patience will be given their reward in full without measure.’” (39:10) These are four places in which the Most High has mentioned that He will twice recompense the good doer on account of his good deed — a reward in the world and a reward in the hereafter. Thus, a good deed will be rewarded urgently, and it sure will; and a bad deed will be recompensed urgently, and it sure will.

Is this not the case? He rewards the good doer by opening his bosom to joy by opening his heart, pleasing him and providing him with bliss on account of his dealing with His Lord Most High, and His obedience and dhikr; he also gives him pleasure of the soul on account of his love — and his dhikr of and delight in his Lord Most High is greater than the delight a person who is close to a generous Sultan feels on account of his authority. He rewards the evildoer with a narrow chest and a heart that is hard, unfocused, dark, and full of hate, worry, distress, sorrow and fear.

This is something that he who has the even most little sense and life cannot doubt. Rather, worry, distress, sorrow and straitened circumstances are punishments in this life, the fire of the temporal abode and the present hell. Turning to Allah Most High and devotion to Him, to be content and pleased with Him, to fill the heart with His love, to be fond of His dhikr, and to be happy and elated by His ma‘rifah is the reward of this world, a paradise, and a mode of living which the way of the life of the kings cannot compare to at all.

I heard Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah sanctify his soul) say, “Surely, there is a heaven in this world; he who does not enter it will not enter the heaven of the hereafter.” He once said to me, “What can my enemies do to me? Me, my heaven and my garden are in my chest. If I travel, then they are with me and will never leave me. My imprisonment is solitude (khalwah), to be slain for me is martyrdom and to be exiled from my land is travelling.

He used to say during his imprisonment in the citadel, “If I were to spend this entire fortress in gold then I would not be able to give thanks for this blessing,” or, “I could never repay them for the good and its like that has come to me in it.” He used to say in his prostration while imprisoned, “Oh Allah, help me in remembering You, thanking You and in comely worship of You,” ma-sha Allah.

He once said to me, “The real prisoner is he whose heart is imprisoned from his Lord and the true captive is he who is captured by his passions.” When he entered the citadel and was inside its walls, he gazed upon them and recited the verse, “Then a wall will be placed between them, which will have a gate. In its inner side, there will be divine mercy, while towards its outer side there will be divine punishment.” (57:13) Allah knows, I never saw anyone who had a more comfortable life than him despite the difficulties in living, and lack of comfort and luxury, rather things that were opposite to them.

Despite the imprisonment, intimidation and oppression, he had, in spite of that, a purer life than all people. He was the most generous, the strongest of heart and the most joyful of soul. The radiance of bliss shone on his face. When we were seized with fear and our thoughts turned negative, and the earth grew narrow for us, we would go to him. No sooner did we look at him and hear his words than all of this would leave us, and change to relief, strength, certainty and tranquillity.

Glory be to He Who lets His slaves witness His heaven before meeting Him, Who opens its doors to them in the abode of deeds and Who gives them something of its freshness, breeze and perfume that they might expend their efforts to seek it and hasten towards it.

Some of the ‘arifs used to say, “If kings and the sons of kings knew what we had, they would fight us over it with swords.” Another said, “The people of the world are pitiful. They left it and did not taste the best of what is inside it.” It was asked, “What is the best that is in it?” He said, “The love of Allah Most High, his ma‘rifah and his dhikr,” or something to that effect. Another said, “There are times when the heart dances in delight.” Another said, “There are times when I say, If the people of heaven have anything like this, then their life is beautiful.”

To love Allah, His ma‘rifah, His constant dhikr, to find peace and tranquillity in Him, to make him the sole object of love, fear, hope and trust; to conduct oneself in a way that He Alone is the master over the cares of the slave, his aspirations and intentions — such is the heaven of the world Heaven and the bliss for which no other bliss can compare. It is consolation for the eye of the lovers and the life of the ‘arifs.

The eyes of the people will only be consoled by this according to how their eyes become consoled by Allah Most High. He whose eye becomes consoled by Allah, every eye will be consoled by him. He whose eye does not become consoled by Allah, he will become worn in attaining the world with much regret.

Previous sections:

Sufism and the Imams of the Salafi Movement: Introduction
Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Sufism
Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim and Sufism – Part One

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  1. He was from the senior shaykhs who Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal would ask in matters of fiqh saying, “What do you say, Oh Sufi?” []
  2. Perhaps the word white is a metaphor for paper and black a metaphor for the ink by which sacred knowledge is written. The advice to the Sufis is that they should adhere to knowledge (translator). []
  3. Baibars al-Jashnakir (d.1310), or Baibars II, was the twelfth Mamluk Sultan of Egypt (1308–1309). He was of Circassian heritage (translator). []
  4. The Sufis (may Allah mercy them). []
  5. In other words the Sufi shaykhs (may Allah mercy them). []
  6. They are the Sufis (may Allah mercy them). []
  7. Published by Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut. []
  8. Among the Sufis this means preferring the will of the Master over one’s will (translator). []
  9. They are the Sufi shaykhs (may Allah mercy them). []
  10. Published by Dar al-Bayan, Damascus. []