Thursday, November 5, 2009

Turn away from what is vain


O son, woe unto me. I have recently been distracted by a vain preoccupation. My heart lost its focus for something unworthy. This is indeed a slippery path. How else can He know you are a true lover? Anyone could easily claim anything. But surely He sifts and sifts. As my nafs lawammah (the blaming self) tossed and turned searching for an answer, I found it in a chapter from 'The Kernel of the Kernels' (Lubb al-Lubab) by Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tehrani who had originally lectured on this matter circa 1950.

So what have I learned? If you allow another 'love' (be it people, things or habits) into your heart, you will lose focus on what really matters. Before long you will realize how much time has been lost being preoccupied with a vain thing. You would have fallen into a state of ghaflah (neglect). Nothing more. Astaghfirullah.

Ima'm‑e Akbar (The Greater Faith)
When the heart of the wayfarer is illumined with the light of Islam-e akbar, he enters a state wherein he witnesses ‑aside from an intellectual understanding of the matter‑ that whatever exists derives from God, the Exalted, and, in other words, finds God present and watchful in all circumstances. This is the same as the stage of shuhud and Islam-e akbar.
However, as it has not reached the frontier of perfection to permeate through all the organs of the body and take charge of its members and parts. Therefore the corporeal obstacles and his physical preoccupations distract him from that state and he loses that shuhud during his preoccupation with something and is overtaken by neglect (ghaflat).
Accordingly, the wayfarer must remain steadfast, with a firm determination, and raise that state to the plane of perfection, making it into an enduring habit (malikah), so that outward preoccupations do not overtake the wayfarer and divert him from the course of shuhud. Hence he must develop this Islam from the plane of the heart to that of the spirit, so that that which was transient and passing becomes permanent and enduring. Under the command of the spirit, that state spreads to all the outer and inner faculties, changing from being a passing state to an enduring station. This station is the same which is called ihsan by the gnostics, as God, the Munificent, states in the Glorious Qur'an:
وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا
And those who struggle in Us,
We shall guide them in Our ways. (29: 69)
And not confining to stating this, He adds:
…And verily God is with the good-doers (muhsiniin). (29:69)

Therefore, the mujahid of God's way cannot reach the paths of Divine guidance until he attains the station of ihsan. The Apostle of Allah (S) was asked concerning the meaning of ihsan. He replied:
أَنْ تَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ كَأَنَّكَ تَرَاهُ ، وَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ تَرَاهُ فَإِنَّهُ يَرَاكَ
(It means) that you should worship God as if He sees you, for if you don't see Him, indeed He does see you.
That is, one should worship God as if one were seeing Him, and should one be unable to worship Him in this manner, at a lower plane he should worship God as if God were seeing Him.
Until the Islam-e akbar of the wayfarer does not reach the plane of imam-e akbar, the state of ihsan comes to him only off and on, wherein he performs worship eagerly and with much appeal and interest. But when he reaches imam-e akbar, the state of ihsan reaches the enduring station of the muhsinin. At this point, all the particular of the wayfarer actions, as well as his general conduct, are driven by eagerness and fondness. All his actions are carried out with a tranquil mind, because at this stage faith has spread to the spirit, and since the spirit is the sovereign ruler of all bodily members and organs, it employs them all for its purposes and ends and they, too, perform their tasks easily and without hindrance, submitting and surrendering together to the spirit and without disobeying it even for a moment. God, the Blessed and the Exalted, has said concerning this group:
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ. الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ، وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُونَ
The believers surely have prospered! Those who are humble in their prayers, and those who turn away from what is vain. (23:1‑3)

That is because preoccupation with vain things is a result of their appeal and interest for them, and the wayfarer who possess a faith of the degree of imam-e akbar and has reached the enduring station of ihsan has no inclination for them whatsoever, as he knows, moreover, that two longings and two loves cannot abide in one heart, in accordance with the statement of God, the Exalted:
مَا جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِرَجُلٍ مِّن قَلْبَيْنِ فِى جَوْفِهِ
God has not placed two hearts in a man's breast. (33:4)

And should there be an inclination toward or interest in vain matters in a wayfarer's heart, as causes are inferred from their effects, we conclude that his heart was devoid of a longing for the Divine. Such a heart would be hypocritical due to expressing eagerness in matters relating to God, the Exalted, as well as in matters pertaining to vanities and frivolities. This is `the greater hypocrisy' (nifaq‑e akbar), which is the opposite of imam‑e akbar.
The submission and obedience in the heart of such a wayfarer does not spring from inner eagerness and longing, but derives from his intellect and is the product of fear and caution. It is to this nifaq that this statement of God Almighty refers:
وَإِذَا قَامُواْ إِلَى الصَّلاَةِ قَامُواْ كُسَالَى
And when they stand for prayer they stand lethargically. (4:142)

The wayfarer attains to the station of imam-e akbar only after being freed from all degrees of this nifaq, when there remains no sign of his actions being inspired by a mere intellectual understanding and a prudence and caution deriving from fear; but when they are purely inspired and motivated by longing and love.
Read the entire treatise on Lubb al-Lubab at
O son, it's ok to fall every now and then,
so long as we get up again.
May Allah guide us onto the Straight Path.
Ameen Allahumma Ameen.

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