If someone mingles frequently with the knowers ('arifun) to Allah, he comes to know his own self and becomes submissive to His Lord. This is why it has been said that: "He who really knows his own self, knows his Lord (man 'arafa nafsahu 'arafa rabbahu)." It (the self) is the obstacle between the servant ('abd) and his Lord. He who really knows his own self becomes humble toward Allah and His creatures. When he knows it well, he becomes wary of it and devotes himself to giving thanks to Allah for the knowledge (ma'rifa) of it. He realizes that He would not have given him that knowledge unless He wished him well in this world and the hereafter, so his outer (zahir) is devoted to giving Him thanks (shukr) and his inner (batin) to giving Him praise (hamd). His outer is fragmented but his inner is united. His happiness is within him while his sorrow is on the surface to veil his spiritual state.
Thus the knower's condition is the reverse the believer's since the latter keeps his sadness in his heart and wears his cheerfulness on his face. The believer (mu'min) is an informed person ('alim) standing at the door, not knowing what is in store for him: Will he be accepted or will he be rejected? Will the door be opened for him or will it stay shut in his face? One who really knows his own self is therefore in contrast to the believer in every respect. The believer is the owner of a spiritual state (sahib hal) but the state is subject to change, while the knower is the owner of a spiritual station (sahib maqam) and the station is firmly established. The believer is afraid of the alteration of his state and the loss of his faith (iman) so his sadness is always in his heart and his cheerfulness is always on his face concealing his sadness. He may smile in your face when he speaks to you but his heart is separated by his sadness. As for the knower, his sadness shows on his face because he presents creatures with the face of warning. He cautions them and gives them commandments and prohibitions on behalf of the Messenger s.a.w.
Note: Extracts from lectures given by Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani in Ramadhan 545 A.H. Reference: The Sublime Revelation (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani) Translated from the Arabic by Muhtar Holland.