Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Divine manifestation

Here follows another letter, written by the same hand and translated from Persian by Zahurul Hassan Sharib, delivered to you across the boundaries of space and time:

‘Whosoever attains the enlightenment of Allah, does not go about saying Allah, Allah… The one who does so has not yet attained enlightenment. As has been said, the one having attained enlightenment, becomes in fact deaf and lame!

The perfect enlightened person passes beyond the stage of remembrance (dhikr), for remembrance is itself a kind of duality and duality to the enlightened constitutes a drawback and a defect. Allah says in Qur’an 57:4 the following:

And He is with you wheresoever you are.

An enlightened one in fact becomes an emperor: he does not expect anything from anyone and he does not fear anyone except Allah. Of such people Allah in Qur’an 10:62 has said:

Indeed, the friends of Allah
Have nothing to fear,
Nor will they grieve.

Allah is in the heart of man and the heart is in the chest of man. The heart is of two kinds, namely the non-real heart and the real heart. The real heart is neither on the right side, nor on the left side, neither upward nor downward and neither far nor near. But it is indeed difficult to recognise the real heart. Only those near to Allah know it. The heart of a perfect believer is in reality the throne of Allah. The nearness of Allah cannot be acquired without the company of a perfect spiritual guide.

The perfect and sincere seekers of the truth do not indulge in interrogations. But instead they are silent and respectful.

The heart of a believer is ever and anon engrossed in silent remembrance (dhikr-e-khafi), hence (s)he acquires immortality. But the heart of a common person is unmindful of the secret remembrance, hence it is dead.

People recite la ilaha illa’llah (there is no god but God), but they do not know what is actually meant by existence and non-existence, and whom they deny and whom they assert. Reciting ‘there is no god but God and Mohammad is the messenger of God’ implies that there is none in the world, except the One Singular and that Mohammad is the manifestation of God. So the seeker of the truth should not allow the thought of a ‘stranger’ to enter his (her) mind and (s)he should take God to be omnipresent. Allah says in Qur’an 2:115 thus:

Wherever you turn
The face of Allah
Is everywhere.

The prophets and the friends of Allah are ever engaged in the silent remembrance (dhikr-e-khafi). The prophet has said:

Remembrance with the tongue is a connection.
Remembrance with the heart is a kind of temptation.
The remembrance with the soul is a source of divine manifestation.
And there is always the silent remembrance.

The silent remembrance and the real prayer constitute in fact the renunciation of the self”.

As just now a letter has been concluded, here is a new one. In another letter received from Khwaja Mo’inoddin Chishti he writes this:

“The perfect enlightened, knower of the truth, lover of God, brother Qotbuddin Kaki Ushi, may Allah increase your piety! Salaams to you from your humble well-wisher Mo’inoddin.

O, dear friend! You must tell your mureeds as to what is actually meant by a perfect dervish, what are his (or her) distinguishing marks and how (s)he is to be recognised.

The eminent shaykhs have said, that a dervish is (s)he who is above all worldly needs and who does not hanker after anything except His everlasting beauty, because the whole world is a mirror and a manifestation of His everlasting beauty. Hence (s)he sees his (her) object in all.

Some of the awliya (friends of God) have explained this thus: ‘A perfect dervish is (s)he indeed, who removes from his/her heart the stain, stress and burden of anything and everything, and gives place in his heart to God alone, who does not pursue any other object or desire except God Himself’. When all things other than God are effaced and removed from the heart, then alone the object is achieved.

So the seeker should ever and anon pursue faithfully and diligently his/her object. Now it is necessary to know as to what is meant by aim and object. You should know, that the object is the same pain and pangs, whether it be real (because of the love of God) or otherwise. Here the non-real pain (because of worldly objects) is the beginning of the mandates of the Islamic code. Salaams to you!”

Nawab Khadim Hasan says this in his Mo’in ul-Arwah: ‘Who does not know that sayings contain the essence of the experiences of the whole of life, and than the sayings of an ‘aref reveal his various degrees of attainment? Fortunate are those who profit by the guidance of their sayings’. He then proceeds by giving annotated 94 sayings of Khwaja Sahab. I’ll omit the notes as they almost always refer to pages of Persian publications.

1. The heart of a lover is like a furnace of love. Whatever goes into it is burnt to nothingness because there is no fire like the fire of love.
2. The way of love is such that no trace remains of the one who sets out to it.
3. From the lips of an ‘aref one hears naught but the remembrance (dhekr) of God.
4. The first sign of an ‘aref is that (s)he begins to despise possessions and wealth.
5. Even if one would give up both worlds in the friendship of the Friend, that would be a small thing.
6. Though the lovers are cut off in love, they choose to do the work of people who, in sleeping and in waking, are seeking for the Beloved, and who having done with the formal aspect of friendship are absorbed in the contemplation of the Friend.
7. The Beloved Himself sees the lover’s longing; the way of love is a matter of supplication.
8. An ‘aref is (s)he who strives to achieve ‘one breath’. The breath of the ‘aref is such that it performs the remembrance (dhekr) of God and the ‘aref sacrifices his (her) whole life for this one breath. If such a breath be achieved this is a matter of great fortune, because even by seeking for such a breath in heaven and on earth, and year after year, it cannot easily be obtained.

In Mo’in-ul-Arwah in the chapter dealing with the 25th way of ma’refat attention is given to the heavenly ascension of the prophet Mohammad (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him). The author tells that the prophet returned with a robe, the robe of khilafat and that he asked several people what they would do if they would receive it. Here are their answers:

Abu Bakr: ‘I’d practice much austerity, I’d attain much spiritual power and I’d say many prayers. In outward and in inward prayers I’d remain in your obedience’.

‘Omar: ‘For the pleasure of God I’d embrace justice and I’d do right to the one who deserves it’.

‘Othman: ‘O, messenger of God! For the love of God I’d bestow much upon the poor and the down-trodden’.

‘Ali: ‘O, messenger of God! I’d cover the defects of the people and cover their sins’.

This was the correct answer and ‘Ali received the robe.

Here is another selection of the book by Nawab Gudri Shah Baba called Mo’in-ul-Arwah, dealing with the life and teachings of Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti:

The fourth way of ma’refat, the knowing of the spirit of inner correction and the stability in the way of haqiqat

When the 9th century [of the Islamic calendar] has passed, then, at the end of that period of time, the learned, the renouncers and the Sufis will be without a murshid, that is they will have neither a spiritual guide who is perfect nor a majdhub (an enraptued one, someone who has lost control of himself because of the attraction by God). Instead of prayer they will be involved in their own desires and the purpose of wearing the robe and turban only for external show. People in great numbers will be adorers of the body and several learned ones and renouncers will get involved in the greed of the world and the worship of the ego. The virtues of ma’refat (gnosis) and worshipping of the truth will not be among them, but instead they will be far away from the real knowledge of God. The reality about that group is known by the friends (awliya) of God; these great ones will always remember God in seclusion.

In order to attain union with God you should with heart and soul remain engaged in inner exercises. The knowledge acquired in this way, which is obtained through sincerity and inner correction, is inspired knowledge. This knowledge is the knowledge of God, therefore on account of its holiness it may not be disclosed to everyone. If someone happens to hear those many secrets [without the proper background] he will lose the power of hearing. When those lacking in courage hear something from the people of the shariat, from the learned or the renouncers about the secrets of God, that is to say, about the secrets of the truth about the ‘arefin (gnostics) they do not believe it, they say it is impossible. Therefore one should not give anyone, except the true seekers, the knowledge of inner correction, obedience and the training of the world of jabarut (the world of power; next to the world of humanity there are other ‘worlds’, like the celestial world. It is also the world of the divine names and qualities).

The agglomeration of man consists of the ma’refat of ego, heart and soul. The ego is the seat of the devil. The heart is the seat of the angels and the soul is the place of the contemplation of God, that is to say:

- the qualities of the ego are the search for this world
- the qualities of the heart are the search for the eight eternities
- and the qualities of the soul are the search for the hidden secrets.

The humble believer often remembers God in his heart and this excessive remembrance of the Friend is on account of extreme love. O, beloved ones! The remembering by repetition with the tongue and dhikr belong only to the external knowledge. As long as the real seeker does not get rid of the intellect he will not attain steadiness in absorption and the perfection of the nearness of God will not be attained as long as he is not frequently lost in inner obedience, in deep devotion and absorption. Comprehension and intellect are two stages and neither leads to God; those two stages are of external knowledge.

The world of nasut (the world of humanity or the material phenomenal world, perceived through the physical senses) and malakut (the world of sovereignty is the invisible spiritual, angelic world, which is perceived through insight and the spiritual faculties) are outward. Love and divine knowledge belong to the condition of always being present. The nearness of God has nothing to do with outward knowledge, the treasure of the secret of the truth has to do with the heart and not with the tongue.

The heart of the believer is full of affection and love. It is the place of the secrets of the Friend. The pure heart of the believer is the throne of God, the mosque in Jerusalem and the house of the ka’ba. Unless you come into the path of God with sincerity, one will not be accepted in the court of God. Do not ask anybody but your murshid a question of your heart.

This, too, is of the outward world that you say that you have received from such and such a great one such and such an initiation in a certain order. O, beloved ones! Adopt the way of the dervish. The people of the real intellect are the people of ma’refat (gnosis) and the dervishes. It is worth-while seeking the company of, receiving the training, the initiation and the advice of the salek majdhub and the majdhub salek [for the explanation of these terms please refer to The Culture of the Sufis]. One group of the shuyukh (spiritual elders) considers the initiation by one particular shaykh as a duty.

The Beloved Himself sees the lover’s longing; the way of love is a matter of supplication.

On this path many masters have been reduced to humbleness and many humble people have become masters.

Khwaja Mo'inuddin Chishti has taught:

"Some people say that samaa' (listening to the music of the Sufis) is the way of attaining the Divine presence, that through this the lover attains completeness in love and gets totally lost in the Beloved, but this is wrong about love. The truth is this, that through Sufi music one attains double union because, on account of it, the heart dwells in the purity of love, the head in contemplation, the soul in union, the body in service, the eyes in sight and the ears begin to hear the voice of the Friend.

Samaa' (listening to Sufi music) is of two kinds, one with relationship, the other without relationship. If you hear the music as coming from the qawwal (musician), then you hear something from the unseen world, but when you hear the music coming from God, that is being in the Divine presence.

Sufi music is like the sun from which everything is acquired according to the capacity of obtaining and according to the degree of attainment and no one remains empty-handed. Sufi music is of God, but some of its parts are useless and improper. The temperament of the beginner is in no way capable of hearing the inspirations from God. Junayd Baghdadi has said: 'I have seen a darwish who on entering the musical gathering sat down and passed away. That is the real hearing of Sufi music'.

::: Sufi travel

Travelling is of four kinds (according to Khwaja Mo’inoddin Chishti):

· travelling with a purpose
· travelling for inner contentment
· travelling of tariqat
· travelling of haqiqat

Travelling with a purpose is done to perform one’s work, for instance to go somewhere with the purpose of trade and so on.

Travelling for inner contentment is this that one makes this travel for the sake of pleasing God. Travels of inner contentment are undertaken in a spirit of faqr (spiritual poverty) and contentment by those who do not talk…

Travels of tariqat are those which the pilgrims undertake for the sake of pilgrimage, but the real seekers do not perceive in that the perfume of the knowledge of God.

Travels of haqiqat cannot be obtained without the help of a real spiritual guide, but are acquired by the training of a perfect spiritual guide and by obedience in the way of the prophet and by preserving nearness to God.

Be a traveller and travel always,
But be careful of wells and mountains.
Travel by your heart,
As the world is not the place for covering distances.

“The heart of the momin (the one with faith) is the house of unification” and in unification of the heart is the hajj of the poor. It is not for everyone to attain the inner unification. When the inner attainment of the heart is reached, then through repeated recitations and remembrances in the heart and inner obedience the true seeker reaches the place of unification of unification. That beauty of beauties is attained in eternal unification and is the contemplation of real beauty.

O, beloved one! That prayer in which, while performing the different movements of prayer, the difference between ‘you and I’ remains, is not the prayer to God.

When absorbed deeply in the love of God,
Mere formalities of prayer are not observed.
Unless there is strong faith in the Oneness of God
Mere observance of formalities is not the means of approach to God.

That prayer is not of God which is outwardly worship of God, but is in reality of the ego.

The praying of lovers is a secret.
It is known only by those who are always praying.
The ignorant worshipper does not know,
That the soul of the lover is always in prayer.

When the lover sees the beauty of his Beloved in privacy,
No one else should come in between.

Going into retreat is of three kinds, that is to say, retreat of nasut, of malakut and of jabarut. Abdulah Ansari has said that, through the training of the murshid the real seeker reaches the nearness of God in ten years. Shibli has said that it is in three years and Dhu’n-Nun al-Mesri has said that the nearness of God can be attained in the third retirement.

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