The Path is Nothing but Adab

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

There is an adab, etiquette due to everything in Creation.  There is an adab due to our brothers on the Path.  There is an adab due to the Master.  The entire matter is the adab due to ourselves.  If we cannot have adab with Creation, most certainly we will never have adab with the Creator.

The first is arrived at by following in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), his family, the awliya‘ullah, and those who represent them.  The second is that we honour our brothers and sisters on the Path.  We avoid seeing their faults by recognising them first in ourselves.  We cover their faults in public and private.  We see them as mirrors reflecting to us meanings regarding ourselves.  We must prefer what we have for your brother to ourselves.  Their mistakes are better than the right actions of others, in that they act with pure intentions; learn from their mistakes and move on the path, having gained understanding and wisdom from their actions.  If they should make an error, they return their actions to Allah (s.w.t.) in istighfar, seeking His Covering them from their consequences.  The adab to the Master is service, waiting, patience, listening and wanting what the Master wants, as if it were your wanting.  Lastly the entire matter is adab to ourselves.

We have been brought into this life for one purpose; that is to know our Creator.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says in a hadits qudsi, “I was a Hidden Treasure and I Desired to be known, so I Manifested Creation so as to be known.”  The entire purpose of this life’s experience is self-knowledge.  Knowledge of the self leads to the knowledge of the source of the self.  The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, “He who knows himself, knows his Lord.”

Allah (s.w.t.) has Designed within us the ability of cognition.  It is this ability of self-awareness that separates us from the animals and all other forms of creation.  With this Gift of cognition and self awareness, comes the ability to choose at any given moment courses of action that present themselves in situations as we inter-relate with creation.  Written in each of these instances are possibilities to either be drawn closer to realization or knowledge of the self or its opposite.

These possibilities have not been left to chance.  Allah (s.w.t.) has Manifested Clear Guidance through the revelations and enlightened behaviour of the prophets and their inheritors.  They represent the measure by which one aspires to attain the highest potential and fulfillment of the Divine Purpose.

Allah (s.w.t.) Says in the Qur`an:

It is He Who has Sent amongst the Unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom - although they had been, before, in manifest error - (Surah al-Jumu’ah:2)

He, the Prophet (s.w.t.) is one of us.  His light and final advent was Designed and Intended before Creation came into being.  His appearance historically, and his presence amongst us is this pre-creational Intention become Manifest.  His light has always been present in the human gene pool and arose at the appointed time.  His Prophetic Light and being-ness is our true nature.  In following his example, we are Raised to our highest potential.  We can never achieve his station.  What we can achieve is our highest through the following of his behaviour and realising its inherent meaning.

Guidance is none other than behaving in a manner consistent with the Prophetic behaviour, and through adherence to that mould, evolve out of the cocoon of darkness and ignorance, into the light of true self-realisation.  This can only be achieved by the practice of willful submission to the Path.  And this is the beginning of adab to ourselves.

Adab to ourselves is to submit to what Allah (s.w.t.) has Intended for us and not what is dictated by the habits of the self and their inclinations to follow the whispering of Shaythan.  The only way to accomplish this task is to take the company of a living Master who can help you discriminate between what is from Allah’s (s.w.t.) hidayah and our lower self, reacting to the impulses of Shaythan’s influence.  It is through the Master’s guidance and the company of a practicing community that saves our languishing in self-involvement and transforms us into the Divinely-Intended Purpose.  Understanding and submitting to this, is the adab to ourselves.

Allah Says in the Qur`an:

But those will prosper who purifies themselves. (Surah al-‘Ala:14)

Whatever good, (O man!) happens to thee is from Allah; but whatever evil happens to thee is from thyself... (Surah an-Nisa’:79)

Our entire relationship with creation, our brothers and sisters, our Master is all for this purpose.  It is in this realisation and willful practice, that lays the foundation of adab to ourselves.

I have only Created jinns and men, that they may serve Me. (Surah adz-Dzariyat:56)

A Master says: "You have to be present all the time, visibly, physically, mentally.  If you are not, rectify it.  You must catch yourself instantly.  Do not delay.  If you delay you will become fossilised and it will be more difficult.  It is all about being available to any situation as a full-grown human being, with faith and good opinion and optimism, with inner realization that you have come from that total ocean of infinity and to that ocean of infinity you are returning.  In between is a tiny little flicker."

Adab to the Master (Murshid)

A great Master said: “It is obligatory on every dervish who seeks the Presence of Allah to take the living Master.  The proof of this obligation is in the words, may he be exalted, “Oh trusting-ones, fear Allah, and be with the truthful ones.”

Murid’ is derived from ‘irada’, will, and it depends on sincerity, ikhlasw.  The true meaning of murid is one who has stripped himself of his own will and accepted what Allah (s.w.t.) Wills for him.

Shaykh ibn ‘Atha-Allah (q.s.), wrote in his Hikam, “Do not accompany one whose state does not change you and whose speech does not guide you to Allah.”

Until one has met a living and teaching Master there can only be glimpses of the Unitive reality in creational experience.  Realization of the Unitive reality can only be focused and reflected wholesomely through the exposure to one who is fully realised, and is himself a clear and pure reflector of divine unity.

A great Master and ‘arif once said: “Once you have met your Master, you have come to the complete meaning of your life.  After this meeting, there can only be further unveilings and openings to one’s reality, or may Allah Protect us, a covering up of the opportunity and a plunge into darkness.”

Does Man think that he will be left uncontrolled, (without purpose)? (Surah al-Qiyamah:36)

The Master is our inner reality, manifested in experience, as a mirror reflecting to our heart its own true nature.  The Master is our door to the Prophetic being-ness.  He is like a tuning fork or resonant cords: when the sound is picked up by another instrument, it resonates the same tone.

In order for this resonance or alchemical transformation to take place, love is required.  Without love there is no hope in achieving any illumination.  Love is the connective tissue or medium that allows the transmission from the Master to the dervish to take place.  Love transcends the intellect, yet does not discount it.  It breaks all barriers so that the Divine Light can flow.  It is love of the Master that transports the dervish to love of the Prophet (s.a.w.), and finally annihilates the dervish in the ultimate Divine Love.  The completion of this unveiling of love is called ‘ma’arifat’, or illumination of the heart of its Divine Nature.

Allah (s.w.t.) Says in a hadits qudsi, “My slave draws near to Me in worship; when he loves me, I Love him.  Then I become the Hand by which he grasps and the Eye by which he sees.”

The Ruby

At breakfast tea a beloved asked her lover,
"Who do you love more, yourself or I?"
"From my head to my foot I have become you.
Nothing remains of me but my name.
You have your wish. Only you exist.
I've disappeared like a drop of vinegar,
In the ocean of honey."

A stone has become a ruby,
Is filled with the qualities of the sun.
And if it loves the sun, it loves itself.
There is no difference between these two loves.
Before the stone becomes the ruby it is its own enemy.
Not one but two exist.
The stone is dark and blind to daylight.
If it says "I," it is all darkness.

A pharaoh claims divinity and is brought down.
Hallaj says the same and is saved.
One ‘I’ is cursed, another ‘I’ is blessed.
One ‘I’ is a stone, another a crystal.
One an enemy of the light, the other a reflector of it.
In its inmost consciousness, not through a doctrine,
It is one with the light.

Work on your stony qualities
And become resplendent like the ruby.
Practice self-denial and accept difficulty.
Always see infinite life in letting the self die.
Your stoniness will decrease; your ruby nature will grow.
The signs of self-existence will leave your body,
And ecstasy will take you over.

Become all hearing like an ear and gain a ruby earring.
Dig a well in the earth of this body,
Or even before the well is dug,
Let Allah Draw the water up.
Be always at work scraping the dirt from the well.
To everyone who suffers,
Perseverance brings good fortune.
The Prophet has said that each prostration of prayer
Is a knock on heaven's door.
When anyone continues to knock,
Felicity shows its smiling face.

by Mawlana Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (q.s.)


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