Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Work for This World & the Next
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is an extract of Imam al-Ghazali’s (r.a.) Ayyuha al-Walad.
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Work for the world as much as you live in it and work for the Hereafter as much as you want to live there and work for Allah the Exalted, as much as you are in need of Him and work for the Hell as much as you can be patient with its pain and sufferings.”
My dear beloved son! It is known from this hadits that you do not need much knowledge because to study knowledge more and to acquire it more is fardh kifayah. Pay special attention to this next tradition so that you will attain certitude. It is said that among the students and muridun of Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.), was a student and disciple named Hatim Ism (q.s.), who in turn later on became a great spiritual master through the training and guidance of Shaykh Shafiq (q.s.).
One day Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) said to him: "O Hatim! For how long have been in my company and have been listening to what I have been saying?"
Shaykh Hatim Ism (q.s.) replied, "Thirty-three years."
Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) asked, "In that time, what benefit have you derived from me?"
Shaykh Hatim Ism (q.s.) responded, "I have obtained eight benefits."
Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) exclaimed, "To Allah we Belong and to Him shall we return. O Hatim! I have spent my lifetime in teaching and training and you have just gained eight benefits from me!"
Shaykh Hatim Ism (q.s.) replied, "O my teacher! If you asked for the truth then the reality is what I told you. I do not need any more and these benefits from knowledge are quite sufficient because I am certain that I will attain salvation in this life and in the life Hereafter through these eight benefits."
Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) asked him, "All right. Tell me what those eight benefits are."
"O my teacher! The first benefit is that I looked at the people of this world and saw that everyone has an intimate companion. But these intimate companions of the people are such that some of them are with them until their illness that brings death, some of them are with them until death, some of them are with them until they reach their graves, and after burial, all the intimate companions return from there. None of their intimate companions go with them in their graves to live with them there and to provide their company. I contemplated on this and said to myself that only that a good intimate companion accompanies them in the grave and lives with his lover, who will provide the company, who will illuminate the grave, who will be a partner on the Day of Judgment and its destinations. I saw that the only intimate companion who has these qualities is my good deeds. After this, I made my good deeds my intimate companion so that it goes with me in my grave, will provide me with its company, will become an illuminated candle in my grave, will be my partner in all stages of life Hereafter, and never ever separate away from me."
Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) said, "Bravo O Hatim! You have told a very good thing. Now narrate the second benefit."
"O my teacher! The second benefit is that I glanced at the people of the world and saw that everyone follows the pleasures and desires from the nafs and is subservient to the desires from the lower self. Upon seeing that, I deliberated on the following Holy verse:
But as for him who feared to stand before his Lord and restrained his soul from lust, lo! The Garden will be his home. (Surah an-Nazi’at:40-41)
I developed the certitude that the Wise Qur’an is correct and the Book of Allah is the Truth. Then, I established a front against my nafs and became determined to oppose it. I molded it in such a shape that I did not fulfill any of its desires until it started to find peace in the worship of Allah, the Exalted."
Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) responded, “May Allah the Exalted Provide His Blessings in your good deeds. Now narrate the third benefit."
"O my teacher! The third benefit is that when I glanced at the people, I saw that every person, with great pain and hard work, is busy in accumulating the possessions of this mortal world and is very happy that he has a lot of goods and material possessions. But when I contemplated on the following holy verse from the Bounteous Qur’an:
That which ye have wasteth away, and that which Allah hath Remaineth… (Surah an-Nahl:96)
Then whatever I accumulated in the world, I spent it all in Way of Allah by distributing it among pious indigents and beggars so that it would be deposited with Allah the Exalted, as my trust and will become source of immense good and ransom in the life Hereafter."
Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) said, "O Hatim! May Allah Grant you His Compensation. You have said and done a very good thing. Now narrate the fourth benefit."
"O my teacher! The fourth benefit is that I looked at the people of the world and saw that some of them think that grandeur and honour belong to the nation or tribe that is big and powerful; that's why they express pride in their tribe. Some of them are such that they think that the grandeur is obtained through abundance of wealth, possessions, family and relatives; that's why people express their pride in their wealth and children. Some are such that they think that their grandeur and honour is in displaying anger, beating, killing, murder and pillage and they express their pride in that. Some are such that they think that their grandeur is in wasteful spending that's why they consider their wasteful spending a source of honour and express their pride in that. But I deliberated on this verse in which Allah the Exalted Says:
…Lo! The noblest of you, in the Sight of Allah, is the best in conduct... (Surah al-Hujraat:13)
Therefore, this is correct and is the truth and the creations' thoughts are false conjectures. That's why I adopted taqwa so that I would be counted as the one with the highest rank in the Sight of Allah, the Exalted."
Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) said, "O Hatim! May Allah be Pleased with you. You have said a very good thing. Now narrate the fifth benefit."
"O my teacher! The fifth benefit is that I looked at the people who were complaining about each other. It was found that they were doing all this because of envy, jealousy, and enmity and the main cause of that is greatness, grandeur, possessions, wealth, and knowledge. I contemplated on the following verse from the Holy Qur’an in which it's said:
…It is We Who Portion out between them their livelihood in the life of this world... (Surah az-Zukhruf:32)
Then I thought that Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, has Appointed the possessions and ranks since the very beginning and no one has any control in this matter. Therefore, I did not compete or had jealousy with anyone and remained content with Allah's Distribution and Destiny and got along with the whole world."
Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) said, "O Hatim! You speak the truth and you are doing the right thing. Now narrate the sixth benefit."
"O my teacher! The sixth benefit is that when I glanced at the people, I saw that every person having enmity with someone else for some reason. Then I deliberated on the following verse:
Verily Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy... (Surah Fathir:6)
After that, I developed the certitude that Allah's Saying is the truth; I should not have any enmity with anyone other than Shaythan. Since then, I considered Shaythan my enemy and did not obey any of his orders. Instead, I developed obedience and followed the Commandments of Allah, the Exalted and adopted only His worship and servitude. The correct way is the Swirath al-Mustaqim as Allah, the Exalted, has Himself Said:
"Did I not Enjoin on you, O ye children of Adam, that ye should not worship Satan; for that he was to you an enemy avowed?" And that ye should worship Me, (for that) this was the Straight Way? (Surah YaSin:60-61)
Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) said, "O Hatim! You did a very good thing and said a very good thing. Now narrate the seventh benefit."
"O my teacher! The seventh benefit is that I looked at the people and saw that every person was preoccupied with his livelihood and search for sustenance with an intense effort. In this regards, they did not even differentiate between halal and haram but instead, were humiliated with doubtful and haram earnings. Then I deliberated on the following verse:
There is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance depends on Allah... (Surah Hud:6)
Then I developed the certitude that the Wise Quran is the truth and is correct and that I am also among those living creatures that are present on earth. So thus, I got engaged in the worship of Allah and developed the certitude that He will Bring to me sustenance because He has Promised sustenance."
Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) said, "You did a very good thing and told a very good thing. Now narrate the eighth benefit."
"O my teacher! The eighth benefit is that when I looked at the people I found that every person's reliance is on someone or something. Some have trust on their possessions, some trust on other people. Therefore, I pondered on this holy verse in which Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, Says:
…And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him... (Surah ath-Thalaq:3)
And He is sufficient for me and He is the Best Helper."
When Shaykh Shafiq Balkhi (q.s.) heard these benefits, he said, "O Hatim! May Allah Grant you His Tawfiq. You have told very good things. I have seen in the Torah, the Gospel, the Psalms, and in the praiseworthy differentiator between right and wrong (the Holy Quran), that all these books mention these eight benefits. Whoever acts on these is as if he has acted on all four books."
My dear beloved son! You know from these traditions that you do not need a lot of knowledge. Now let's return to our explanation and I will tell you the internal conditions for the student and seeker on the Path of Allah.
The fifth condition that is obligatory on the seeker on the Path of Allah, the Exalted, is that he should have a Perfected spiritual guide who guides him and removes evil qualities from the seeker and replaces them with noble qualities. The example of training is just like that of a farmer who when looking after a crop sees the unnecessary grass that emerged, pulls them out of the crop. Likewise, whatever weeds that pop up in the farm, he uproots them from the crop and throws them away. Then the farmer puts water and fertilizers in the crop so that the crop grows and develops a good quality. Likewise, in every condition, the traveler on the Path of Allah has no cure or solution but to have a Perfected spiritual guide. Because, Allah, the Exalted, has Sent Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) to His slaves so that he proves to be an illuminated proof in the Way of Allah and so that he brings people to the Way of Allah, the Exalted. When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) departed from this world, he appointed his deputies and caliphs in his place so that they become a proof of the Way of Allah, the Exalted, until the Day of Judgment.
Therefore, for the seeker, there should be a Perfected spiritual guide who, for the sake of walking on the Path of Allah, is an illuminated proof as a deputy of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).