Sunday, March 14, 2010

Accuse your own soul!


Know that although obedience is the path to God and the means of approach to His Holy Presence, it may induce in those who are liable to distraction many things which are reckoned among the major sins, such as ostentation, self-admiration, arrogance, the feeling that one has obliged God, forgetfulness of His grace in granting (acts of disobedience), and  so forth. These may result in the deprivation of the obedient man's reward, and may even lead to painful punishment. The believer who is intent on following the path of seriousness and is concerned to attain salvation should always accuse his own soul (nafs) and refuse to give it the benefit of the doubt; he will ask forgiveness even for his acts of obedience, even if no contravention has outwardly occured, fearful that his soul may have led him into one of these hazardous faults. You now know why one should seek forgiveness even for acts of obedience.

Something even more subtle than this may befall the people of gnosis under some circumstances: they may notice that they have come to find comfort in their virtuous acts (rather than in God), or to rely on them (rather than on God); and they then turn back to Him in repentance, asking for forgiveness, The same things may again befall them while they pass through the noble stations and states with which they are invested; and they have then to repent and ask forgiveness for them.

For the people of God who divest themselves of all attachment to the worlds, sin is to attend to other than God, whatever this 'other' may be. We see them fleeing fearfully to God and seeking refuge in Him from states which, if experienced by others would have been considered great acts of devotion, such as for instance, setting one's hopes in one's acts of disobedience and having thoughts of fear (of God) or of renunciation. It is in this context that you should understand the saying: "The good deeds of the righteous are the evil deeds of those who are brought nigh to God." (the muqarabeen).
Were it not that the Path is fading away and the lights of realization are setting, we would have said some astonishing things on this subject. So take heed people of intelligence!

Shaykh Sihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi, may God have mercy on him has said:
"There are certain factors which impair spiritual stations, for these latter may be infiltrated by extraneous elements, and the gnostic may fail to perceive this while still in them, and only become aware of this upon rising from one station to a higher one, at which, experiencing an imperfection, he looks back at the former with better insight and returns to it in order to repair the defect and render it sound. This can only be done through repentance and asking for forgiveness."

This is a summary of what the gnostics have taught, with some explanantions and clarifications. Some have interpreted the saying of the Prophet s.a.w:
"My heart becomes covered, so that I ask God for forgiveness 70 times a day," along the lines suggested by Suhrawardi, but in fact it is far from bearing any relation to whatever to the Muhammadan rank which embraces all perfection of form and character. I have another interpretation for it, which I can only divulge verbally to those worthy to receive it. And God knows best.

- Imam al-Haddad

O son, I think I understand a little better now what Ustaz Shamsul has been saying and repeating that "The good deeds of the righteous (the saliheen) are the evil deeds of those who are brought nigh to God (the muqarabeen)." So never be satisfied with what you think you have achieved. Verily it is not our 'achievement' even. Instead, be harsh on your own soul. May Allah make us worthy of receiving gnosis of the finest kind and may our outward obedience reflect that of our inward state. Ameen Allahumma Ameen.

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