Monday, May 28, 2012

Shaykh Wali Raslan on exiting from yourself


"Now then, know that the whole of you is covert polytheism and your realization-and-affirmation-of-Oneness (tawhid) will not become evident to you until you exit from yourself."
- Shaykh Wali Raslan ad-Dimashqi (d. 1296 CE)

Because we cannot be sure we have properly exited ourselves we should not think that we belong with the Sufis. I dare not make any lofty claims. Our friend Brother Ruslan Moore is a publisher at Al-Baz Publishing whose publications we often quote here (with permission, Alhamdulillah). Out of humility he regarded himself more as a "miner" than a publisher. In the 'Publisher's Preface' for "Concerning the Affirmation of Divine Oneness" (Risala fi't-Tawhid) he described his role as a miner of the sands of time to find the gold  i.e. the works of awliya who have left us. And in the case of the aforementioned kitab it was Shaikh Wali Raslan Ad-Dimashqi of Damascus (d. 1269 CE) a saint who was known for making a live demo of the four seasons just by gesturing with a stick. If only he, who had amazing karamah, who had his hands on non-time and non-spatial phenomena, if only he would throw pebbles and hit the oppressors of the Syrians now, as he had miraculously done on the Armies of the Crusaders.

Obviously, Shaykh Wali Raslan was who he was, and we cannot be sure if there is anyone like him in the present time, because he realized the special kind of knowledge which he expounded in Risala fi't Tawhid.     I shall reproduce it here so that we can read and re-read and try to fathom what he meant. It's little wonder why the Prophet s.a.w had spent so many years preaching tawhid before other aspects of religion came into place.

"Now then, know that the whole of you is covert polytheism and your realization-and-affirmation-of-Oneness (tawhid) will not become evident to you until you exit from yourself. Provided you are sincere, it will be disclosed to you that it is He, not you, so you must ask forgiveness for you. And whenever you encounter [any form of it], your own polytheism [shirk] will be evident to you. You must therefore, renew, in every hour and at every moment, an affirmation of-Oneness [tawhid]  and a faith [iman]. And whenever you become detached from you, your certitude [yaqin] will increase."

"O prisoner of desires and formal acts of worship, O prisoner of stations and revelations! You are deluded and you are preoccupied with you. Where is your preoccupation with Him to the exclusion of you? he is Present and Attentive, "and He is with you wherever you may be," in this world and in the hereafter . When you are with Him, He screens you from you, and when you are with you, He screens you from Him."

Faith is your separating from them, and certitude is your separating from you. When your faith has increased, you will be transported from state to state; and when your certitude has increased, you will be transported from station to station.

"The Sacred Law [Shari'a] is for you, until you seek Him from Him for you; and the Reality [Haqiqa] belongs to Him, until you seek Him through Him for him, beyond when and beyond where, for the Sacred Law does have limits [hudud] and modes [jihat] but the Reality has neither limit nor mode."

"One who lives with the Sacred Law [alone] is given the privilege of striving [mujahada] and one who lives with the Reality is given the privilege of grace [minna]. How great is the contrast between striving and grace!"

One who lives with striving is existent [mawjud], while one who lives with grace is extinct [mafqud].  Practices are linked to the noble Law [Shar]. As for total trust in the Lord [tawakkul], this is linked to faith [iman] and the realization-and-affirmation-of-Oneness [tawhid] is linked to illuminating disclosure [kashf].

People wander astray from the Lord of Truth because of the mind and from the hereafter because of passion. For, when you seek the hereafter with passion, you stumble and slip.

The believer sees by the Light of Allah, and one who has direct knowledge [al-arif] beholds Him by it. 'As long as you are with you, We command you. Then once you have been rendered extinct to you, We take charge of you.' For He does not  take charge of them until after their annihilation [in Him]. As long as you continue, you are a seeker [murid]. Then, when He has made you extinct to you, you are one who is sought [murad]. The most lasting certainty is your absence from you and your presence with Him. What a big difference there is between what is at His command and what is because of Him! If you are at His command, worldly means will be subservient to you. And if you are because of Him, the whole universe will be submissive to you.

The first of the stations is patience in obedience to His Will (Exalted is He) and the last is that you come to be in accordance with His purpose. [Practical] knowledge ['ilm] is the way of action, and action is [the way of ] knowledge . And knowledge is the way of experience [ma'rifa]. And experience [of Allah] is the way of unveiling [kashf]. And unveiling is the way of extinction [fana'].

'You have to become fit for Us as long as there is still within you any remnant of anything apart from Us, so when you have set everything else aside, We shall render you extinct. You have now become fit for Us, and We have entrusted you with our secret.'

When there does not remain with you any self-motivation, your certitude will be perfected, and when there does not remain any existence of yours, your realization-and-affirmation-of-Oneness [tawhid] will be perfected.

The people of the inner are with certainty [yaqin] and the people of the outer are with faith [iman]. So when the heart of the master of certainty is stimulated in response to anything other than Allah, his certainty is deficient and when no notion ever occurs to him, his certainty is perfect. And when the heart of the master of faith is stimulated in response to anything other than the divine command, his faith is defective, and when it is stirred by the divine command, his faith is complete.

The sin of the people of certainty is unbelief [kufr] and the sin of the people of faith is falling short. The dutiful servant is diligent, and the lover is totally trusting and he who knows by direct experience  [al-arif] is calm and serene and he who is found is lost. There is no rest for a dutiful servant, and no movement for a lover, and no resolve for one who knows by direct experience and no being found for one who is lost.

Love is experienced only after certainty, and when the lover is sincere in his love, his heart must be empty of all that is apart from Him. And as long as it retains any trace of love for anything but Him, he must be lacking in love.

One who takes delight in misfortune, co-exists therewith, and one who takes delight in and rejoices in prosperity co-exists with it, so when He makes them extinct to them, the enjoyment of misfortune and prosperity departs.

As for the lover, his breath is wisdom [hikma] and as for the loved one, his breath is power [qudra]. Formal acts of worship are for the compensations, and love is for the nearness. [In the words of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He]: 'I have prepared for My righteous servants that which no eye has ever seen, of which no ear has ever heard, and which has never occurred to any human heart. When they wish for Me, I give them that which no eye has ever seen and of which no ear has ever heard.'

When He has made you extinct to your passion by decree, and to your self-will through knowledge, you will become a servant with undivided loyalty, with neither passion nor will of your own. Then the veil will be lifted for your benefit, so that servitude will vanish away into Oneness, for the servant will be annihilated and the Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) will remain.

The whole of the Sacred Law [Shari'a] is constriction, and the whole of knowledge ['ilm] is expansion and the whole of direct experience [ma'rifa] is dalliance and playful teasing.

Our method is love, not labor, and annihilation, not perpetuity. When you enter into work, you belong to you, and when you enter into love, you belong to Him. The worshiper looks to his worship, while the lover looks to his love.

When you have come to acknowledge Him, your breathing will be through Him, and your movements will belong to Him, but if you are ignorant of Him, your movements will be your own.

The formal worshiper ['abid] has no rest, and the ascetic [zahid] has no appetite; and the champion of truth [siddiq] has no dependent reliance; and he who is endowed with direct experience ['arif] has neither might no strength, neither choice nor will, neither movement nor rest; and he who is existent [mawjud] has no existence.

When you have come to be on familiar terms with Him, you will be estranged from you. "If someone is preoccupied with Us for his own sake, We shall make him blind. But if someone is preoccupied with Us for Our sake, We shall give him sight.'

When your passion has faded away, the door of the Reality [Haqiqa] will be unveiled for your benefit, so that your own will is annihilated and Oneness [Wahdaniyya] is unveiled to you and then you will realize that it is He, not you.

If you surrender to Him, He will draw you close, but if you argue with Him, He will keep you at a distance. If you draw near through Him, He will bring you close, but if you draw near through you, He will keep you at a distance. If you seek Him for your own sake, He will burden you, but if you seek Him for His sake, He will pamper you. Your nearness to Him is your separation from you, while your distance is your sticking with you. If you come without you, He will accept you, but if you come through you, He will exclude you. The worker is hardly likely to be free from attachment to his labor. So be one of the sort disposed toward grace [minna], not one of the sort disposed toward work ['amal]. If you know Him, you will come to rest, but if you are ignorant of Him, you will be agitated. So the point is that He should be and you should not be.

As for the common folk, their works are suspect, and as for the elite, their works are good deeds, and as for the elite of the elite, their works are degrees of spiritual progress. Whenever you shun your passion, your faith is reinforced and whenever you shun your own essence, your realization-and-affirmation-of-Oneness [tawhid] is reinforced.

Creatures are a screen and you are a screen, but the Lord of Truth is not one to be secluded and He is concealed from you because of you and you are concealed from you because of you. So separate from you and you shall witness Him."

Rabbi zidni 'ilma warzuqni fahma
Translator credit: Allahyarham Muhtar Holland
Click here to purchase 'Concerning the Affirmation of Divine Oneness' 
by Al-Baz Publishing.

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