Wednesday, 27 June 2012
The Secret is Restraint
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
When we meet someone, what they say and do speaks much of their inner reality. It is not so much to judge anyone, but rather it is a tool of reflection to understand the self; that it is insidious, that it is devious and that it is resilient. A man once came to Rabi’ah al-‘Adawiyyah (q.s.) and spoke at length of how much he hated dunya and loved Allah (s.w.t.). Rabi’ah al-‘Adawiyyah (q.s.) remarked that for someone who hated dunya, he spoke a lot about it, like a jilted lover.
And in the course of seeking the Divine, we will meet many people along the Path, each and every one of them with varying sicknesses of the heart. However, most of them do not recognise it. Rather, they seek to guide and teach and cure us. We must not look down on them and judge them for that in itself is a sickness. Rather, we must recognise the symptoms of these diseases and search for them within ourselves. I once asked my shaykh, Shaykh Zakaria Bagharib (q.s.) why were there such terrible people in the thariqa’. And he replied, in the words of the great teachers that came before, “Where will you find the sick but at the doctor?”
It is often difficult to sit in the majalis anymore. We see people speak far too much of lessons and associations and religion without understanding. If dunya is nothing, then do not speak of its elements. And rizqi is an element of dunya as well. It is the hidden dust that coats the heart and veils one from the benefits of dependence on the Creator. Imam Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s.) once said, “My Rabb, I do not know in whose hands lie my rizqi and whose rizqi lies in my hand.”
A very basic understanding of the Path is this; that all Creation is in a state of loss. A salik will always recognise that he is faqir since even his next breath is not his. And Allah (s.w.t.) is al-Ghany. There is no ownership since all is Owned by the Possessor of All Attributes. Since there is no owner, there is no debtor. Since Allah (s.w.t.) is the Owner, then every single Creation is a debtor. That is tawhid. After all, did He not Promise that not a soul would be wronged in the least? It is impossible for al-Adl to wrong even the dust in the wing of a mosquito. If any fail to recognise that, there is no Path, only dunya and the finer lessons are of no benefit. Whatever was meant for us will always be there. In the chasing of it, a man has committed a sin and a wali has committed shirk. He has doubted Allah’s (s.w.t.) Justice and he has questioned His Sovereignty. Do not think to wear any of His Cloaks for He has Promised in a hadits qudsi that He will Destroy such a person.
For those who want to come and sit in the circles of the ‘alim and the ‘arif, they must know what the Path is really about. This is a plain sharing without fancy terms and bombastic words and pretension because pretension is a disease. We are forbidden to speak of states we do not understand. And yet we hear so many speak with authority on what they have no knowledge of. They pretend to wear the cloak of the ‘arif but are in danger of wearing the cloak of the hypocrite.
Firstly, the Path of the Sufi is the Path of Wilayat. The recognition of the world is dunya and irrelevant. If you seek it, you have chased another god. True wilayat is always hidden simply because Allah (s.w.t.) is jealous of His Beloved. Even if you recognise them, you have simply glimpsed a broken reflection of the moon upon a raging sea. It does not mean you have seen the moon, let alone give you any authority to comment on its reflected brilliance. And if you cannot even know that moon, what authority is there to speak of the brilliance of the sun that is the Beloved Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.)? Or even understand the sunnah?
The religion of Islam is restraint. The shahadah is restraint from the Self. Otherwise, the Self would proclaim itself a god. Swalah is restraint from time. It is the recognition that nothing we do has any importance compared to our service to Allah (s.w.t.). Fasting is restraint from the carnal pleasures if the world, from the taste of the tongue to the taste of the flesh. Zakat is the restraint from love of wealth. Hajj is the restraint of the comforts of life. And even misery is a restraint from comfort and indulgence.
Thariqa’ is this and more. It is the restraint of existence. It is the restraint from being. Everybody wants to be. Be a rock star, be a shaykh, be a rich man, be respected, be loved, be admired, be anything. The key to becoming is not to be. That is the restraint of the awliya’. Following the sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is the ultimate restraint. And yet it has become a heresy. Instead if diminishing the Self, it has enhanced it. They wear the taj and the veil and grow the beard and sit in the majlis and start to believe they are something. They are on the border of shirk because in claiming to love the Prophet (s.a.w.), they have desecrated him.
The sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is not how we dress and what we do and anything of that sort. The secret lies in what we do not see. If we do not see ourselves, that is the sunnah. We see our Prophet (s.a.w.). But if we see ourselves in anything and feel something in our heart, then throw away the taj and cut the beard and burn the cloak. It would be safer for us. If we sit in the majlis and want to be seen to sit in it, then leave. If we raise the voice to be heard, then be silent. If we have started to take attendance and judge others, there is no restraint. We have begun to wear the cloak of His Judgement and we are in danger of the Fire. In the same vein, if any find yourself in such a majlis, then leave. This is the end of times where the sick have gathered not to be cured but to cure. It is better to practice restraint and seek His Guidance.
If we want anything of this world, even the wing of a mosquito, we have denied ourselves the Divine Presence. Now, people want to own houses and vehicles and people. They claim something that already has an Owner. They say it is for Allah (s.w.t.) but in the wanting, they have already failed. Beware the Self and practice restraint.