Inspirer of Faith -
O you who have attained to faith!
Remember God with unceasing remembrance,
and extol His limitless glory from morn to evening.
drink from one stream. One is hollow, the other is sugar-cane. -
your heart from heedlessness, protect your lower self from desires, guard
your intellect from ignorance, and you will be admitted into the company
of the vigilant. It is a duty for everyone to seek knowledge; that is,
knowledge of yourself. - Jafar al-Sadiq
someone remarks, "What an excellent man you are!" and this
pleases you more than his saying, "What a bad man you are!" know
that you are still a bad man. - Sufyan al-Thawri
Ways of the
Take recourse to self-imposed silence (mulāzimat al-şamt). Keeping quiet will kindle the light of joy in your heart and immerse you in happy tranquility, just as Abu Madyan points out.
Make silence obligatory
Unless you are questioned, then say:
'No knowledge have I'
And conceal yourself with ignorance.
Sufis who take to the spiritual way consider that there are great benefits to be gained by those who make silence obligatory upon themselves. Doing so raises their foundations high and plants firmly their roots. Silence is of two types. There is silence of the tongue (şamt bi'l-lisān) and then there is silence of the heart (şamt bi'l-janān). Both of there are necessary on the path. Whoever is silent in the heart yet speaks with the tongue speaks with wisdom. Whoever is silent with the tongue and silent in the heart perceives the manifestation (tajallī) of the inner conscience (sirr) and is addressed by the Lord.
This is the ultimate goal of silence, as made comprehensible through the discourse of the Shaykh [Abu Madyan]. So make silence obligatory upon yourself, my dear seeker, unless you are questioned. If you are questioned, return to your roots and reach your goal and answer simply, 'No knowledge have I.' Conceal yourself with ignorance, so that you might be enlightened by the rays of intimate knowledge that comes directly from the divine source ('ilm ladunī). Whenever you acknowledge your ignorance and return to your roots [weakness and incapacity], the glimmers of intimate knowledge of your true self dawn to your sight. And if you know your true self you know your Lord, as it is recorded in a saying of the Prophet [hadīth]: "He who knows himself knows his Lord" (man 'arifa nafsahu 'arifa rabba-hu).
All of this knowledge is the fruit of silence and observing its proper bounds with respect. So keep silent, bear yourself respectfully and stand humbly at the doorway so that you might be recognized as a beloved friend of the master of the house. How beautifully this has been said by a poet:
I won't leave the doorway
till they set right my deficiency
Lest they greet me while I'm bent
with my shameful incapacity
If you are satisfied with me
imagine my honor and my nobility!
Yet if you reject me, is there any hope
for my impertinent rigidity?
Characteristics of the True Believer
Shaykh Yahyā Ibn Mu’ādh ar-Rāzī—may Allāh bless his soul—has collected in his books the characteristics of the true believer, some of which are that he/she:
1)Is very bashful.
3)Is very beneficial to others.
8)Stays away from useless people and vain talk.
9)Builds understanding and brotherhood.
11)Is compassionate to all.
And he/she stays away from the following:
d) Looking for badness in other people.
e) Rushing into actions (before thinking properly).
k) Love of the world
l) Too much sleep.
Reflection is the roaming of the heart in the meanings of things in order to reach its goal. It is with reflection that one dives for the pearls of haqiqa. If one’s reflection is free from flaws, it will attain to the sources of Realisation [tahqiq]. It is said that it is the “lamp of the heart, which renders visible the good and evil which it contains, and what may benefit it or bring it harm,” since a heart devoid of reflection is as devoid of light as a dark house. A heart devoid of light will contain nothing but ignorance, pride and beguilement.
Ibn ‘Abbas and Abu’l-Darda’ (may God be pleased with them) said, “An hour’s reflection is better than a whole night spent in worship.”
Al-Hassan ibn Abi’l-Hassan has said, “Reflection is the mirror of the believer, in which he looks at his evil and good works.”
Ibn ‘Atiya wrote in his Qur’anic commentary that his father had been told the following story by one of the ulema of the eastern regions:
I once spent the night in a mosque in Egypt. After I had said the night prayer, I noticed a man lying down wrapped in his mantle. We others, however, remained awake and prayed through the night. When the adhan was given for the morning prayer, the man stood up and prayed with the others. I was disgusted by his audacity in praying without the ablution, so when the prayer was finished, and the man went out, I went after him in order to admonish him. However, when I drew near to him I overheard him saying:
“A body full up, both absent and present
A heart that’s alert, silent in dhikr;
Constricted to others, expanded within
thus is the state of gnosis and fikr.
Reflecting all night for the Wise Maker’s sake
ever asleep, and always awake.”
So I left him alone, thinking, ‘He must be one of those who worship God through reflection’.
Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad, Key To The Garden
Beware of Conceit
Beware of conceit, for it invalidates works. The Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, said, “Conceit eats good works just as fire eats firewood.” And he said, “Three things are ruinous: avarice that one obeys, passion that one follows, and admiration that one has for himself.” Conceit is for someone to see himself as important and his behavior as excellent. From this arises showing off one’s works, feeling superior to others, and being self-satisfied. As Ibn ‘Ata’illah said, may God’s mercy be upon him, “The root of every sin, distraction, or lust is self-satisfaction.” He who is satisfied with himself does not see his shortcomings. And he who is unaware of his shortcomings, how can he succeed?
-Imam ‘Abdallah ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad, Two Treatises of Imam al-Haddad
Shaykh Ibn Atā’allāh al-Iskandarī—may Allāh bless his soul—said:
Shaykh Abū al-Abbās al-Mursī—may Allāh be pleased with him—had a profound dislike for obsessive doubts concerning one’s ritual purity and the validity of one’s canonical prayers, and he found it burdensome to be with people who were prone to such preoccupations. One day when I was with him, someone said to him, “Master, so-and-so is a man of knowledge and integrity but he’s prone to obsessive doubts.”
“Where is his knowledge and integrity, then?” the Shaykh asked. “[True] knowledge is imprinted on the heart as whiteness [inheres] in that which is white and as blackness [inheres] in that which is black.”