To Remove Our Masks

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from a swuhbah by Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim Adil al-Haqqani (q.s.) on 01st April 2010.

Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim (q.s.) asked if we have ever tried to step on our egos.  It is a very rare thing to find one who does so.  Perhaps 99.9% of humans obey their egos and follow Shaythan.  Have we ever wrestled Shaythan into submission and placed your feet triumphantly on his neck?  Have we ever even seen Shaythan before?  Those who have ever seen Shaythan would know that it has a large collection of masks.  Each day, Shaythan places a different mask on our face and suggests we look into the mirror.  For example, he may put on us, a mask of a learned saint, so we look at ourselves with all our good deeds, and we believe that the mask we have on, is the real us.  Each mask lifts our ego to a high status and we are cheated into believing that we are really that honoured.

Perhaps the mask is that of a humble servant so that we think that we are that obedient, and we feel that we are special servants of Allah (s.w.t.).  We may admire our own greatness and then fall from grace because we have been cheated by Shaythan's mask.  Each mask is a lie to our ego, a trap to cheat us.  Our true selves are hidden behind the mask.  Everyone who seeks spiritual ascension and desires closeness to Allah (s.w.t.) is targeted by Shaythan.  To fight Shaythan, gives us honour.

When mankind inherits Paradise, they will find that each one of the seven levels of Jannah is vastly different.  At the first level of Paradise, we would have left his physical body behind and enter a completely different type of existence.  We will be amazed at our transformation.  We will be overjoyed to see what Allah (s.w.t.) has Prepared for us there.  We will be unable to comprehend all that we experience.  Overwhelmed, we will fall into prostration before Allah Almighty, and when we arise, our hearts will be filled with thankfulness to Allah (s.w.t.) for what He has Bestowed.

This knowledge is indeed in the Holy Books sent down by Allah (s.w.t.), but many of us are unable to picture what Paradise is like.  Only the prophets have a real understanding of what is contained within them.  Even for those of us who have some knowledge, we lack the certainty of faith to truly understand what that knowledge means.  That is why we have yet to understand the meaning of the seven levels of Paradise.

When that blessed person who is in the first level of Paradise, is elevated to the second level, his senses will be overwhelmed by experiences that he has never had, not even in the first heaven below.  Right to the smallest detail, it will be completely different from the first level he had just seen.  Once again, he will fall into prostration in thankfulness to Allah (s.w.t.).  This scene will be repeated from level to level of Paradise, no two levels are alike in any aspect, and the person who has been blessed thus, will fall into prostration, at every level of his ascension. Each level of Paradise that we enter, our entire understanding of Paradise will be enhanced.

It is only then, that we will finally understand the honour He has Given us in making us His Khalifah.  We will finally understand that it is the station of the crown prince, an honour for no other.  It is an honour from pre-eternity to eternity.  When we have tasted of Jannah's pleasures, we will never tire of it.  We will seek more and more of it.  Being in Paradise is not like watching television.  We are not mere spectators to the pleasures of Paradise.  We will be in the thick of it, experiencing with every nerve in our spiritual bodies, the perpetual pleasures that we have earned by our worldly deeds.

But in order to inherit all that, we must be with the swadiqin, the upholders of truth.  It is a Divine Command:

O ye who believe!  Fear Allah and be with those who are true (in word and deed). (Surah at-Tawbah:119)

The Qur'an has advice for every member of the ummah of Muhammad (s.a.w.) so we must take our portion of the advice.  The swadiqin are spiritual healers, doctors of the soul.  They come to teach us what ails us and how to cure our blindness and diseases.  The swadiqin reveal to us that we are simply standing at the beach of Islam; we have not dived into the ocean.  If only we were to dive in, we would find all that we seek.

Do we know who will accompany us as we enter the first Paradise?  That is an important question.  Just as a tourist visiting a town for the first time needs a tour guide, so do we need a guide when we pass through this difficult doorway of death.  When our souls leave our physical bodies and rise through the heavens and enter the vast expanse of Jannah, for the very first time, it needs such a guide.  Knowledge is the key to unlocking such secrets, to unveil the hidden treasures of the reality of each heavenly level.  Such knowledge leads one to praise Allah (s.w.t.) abundantly.  One who has been Endowed with the real understanding of reality will afford the highest praises and respect to his Lord, the Almighty.

No person can understand the greatness of Allah (s.w.t.) and the reality of the seven levels of Paradise unless he has a guide in this world and in the hereafter.  We need a guide.  It is necessary for one to seek a teacher who will take our hand and walk us safely through this journey to find our reality.  A true, Divinely Sent guide takes us on this journey, step by step, level by level.  To teach about the unseen, mystical world is not for the unqualified.  It is only for those whose veils have been lifted and who have been Embued with Divine authority to do so

The mysterious world of unseen oceans makes up a huge part of the study of Islam.  Although we can only learn so much in our short lives, we may not even learn an atom's worth of the realities before us.  We must make the effort to plant these tiny seeds and we must be patient for these seeds grow a little, day by day, but they will keep growing for eternity by Allah's (s.w.t.) Grace.  We shall reap the rewards from these eternally growing harvests forever.  So we must not be foolish.  We must remove the masks of Shaythan and learn the secrets of the Holy Book from the real scholars.


  1. The Ta-Sin of Understanding

    The comprehensions of created natures are not attached to reality, and reality is not attached to created natures. Thoughts (which come) are adherences, and the adherences of created natures do not attach themselves to realities. The perception of reality is difficult to acquire, so how much more difficult is the perception of the reality of the Reality. Furthermore, Allah is beyond reality, and reality does not in itself imply Allah.
    The moth flies about the flame until morning, then he returns to his fellows and tells them of his spiritual state with the most eloquent expressions. The he mixes with the coquetry of the flame in his desire to reach perfect union.
    The light of the flame is the knowledge of reality, its heat is the reality of reality, and Union with it is the Truth of the reality.
    He was not satisfied with its light nor with its heat, so he leapt into it completely. Meanwhile, his fellows were awaiting his coming so that he could tell them of his actual vision since he had not been satisfied with hearsay. But at that moment, he was being utterly consumed, reduced and dispersed into fragments, and he remained without form or body or distinguishing mark. Then in what sense can he return to his fellows? And in what state now that he has obtained? He who had arrived at the vision became able to dispense with reports. He who arrives at the object of his vision is no longer concerned with the vision.
    These meanings do not concern the negligent man, nor the transitory man, nor the man of wrong action, nor the man who follows his whims.
    Oh you who are uncertain, do not identify ‘I am’ with the Divine ‘I’ - not now, nor in the future, nor in the past. Even if the ‘I am’ was a consummated gnostic, and if this was my state, it was not the perfection. Even though I am His I am not He.
    If you have understood this, then understand that these meanings were not true from anyone except Muhammad, and ‘Muhammed is not the father of any one of your men,’ but the Messenger of Allah and the seal of the prophets. He absented himself from men and jinn, and he closed his eyes to ‘where’ until there no longer remained any veil on the heart nor any falsehood.
    There was a ‘length of two bows’ lengths or nearer,’ when he reached the desert of the ‘knowledge of reality,’ he reported from the outward heart. When he arrived to the truth of the reality he left his desire there and gave himself up to the Bountiful. When he reached the Truth he returned and said: ‘the inward heart has prostrated to You, and the outward heart has believed in You.’ When he reached the Furthermost Limit he said: ‘I cannot praise You as You should be praised.’ When he reached the reality of the reality he said: ‘You are the only One who can praise Yourself.’

    He renounced his desire and followed his vocation, ‘the heart did not lie about what it saw’ at this station near the Lote-Tree of the Boundary. He did not turn to the right to the reality of things, nor to the left to the reality of reality. ‘His eyes swerved not, nor swept away.’

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  3. Assalamu'Alaikum,

    Interesting article. I'm not too sure you understand what it's talking about, though.


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  5. My dear brother in Islam. The material came from the Tawasin of Mansur Al-Hallaj. It speaks of the journey of the seeker who wishes further into the presence of his Creator. It tells a tale of the difference between the whimsical and the fervent. It cautioned against the repetition of Azzazil's pride, mistaking pride for the upholding of Tawheed. It reminds that the journey is beyond mere return to the One. It is about his Majesty and we are His. So much so we lack the faculties to even begin to praise Him and only He is truly capable of praise.

    Just as when Rasulullah prostrated and supplicated that he was thankful for being able to be thankful. That is truly the devolution of pride.

  6. Assalamu'Alaikum,

    Thank you for the clarification. I confess I have never read al-Hallaj. Much of what I have been taught (and am still being taught) is from the sober tradition of Baha'uddin Naqshband, Junaid al-Baghdadi and similar traditions.

    Understandably, much of what I learnt is from the Traditions of the Naqshbandi of which I am very much a beginner.

    Thank you for sharing this.



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