Iqazh al-Himam fi Sharh al-Hikam, Chapter Six, Part 1

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ 

The following is taken from the first chapter of Iqazh al-Himam fi Sharh al-Hikam, a commentary on al-Hikam of Shaykh Taj ad-Din Abu al-Fadhl Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.), by Shaykh Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ajibah (q.s.). 

A sign of the death of the heart is a lack of sadness about beneficial actions we have missed, and lack of regret about our mistakes.  Three things can cause the death of the heart: love of this world, heedlessness of dzikrullah, and allowing the limbs to commit acts of disobedience.  Three things can result in the life of the heart: asceticism in this world, occupation with dzikrullah, and keeping the company of the awliya’ of Allah (s.w.t.).  There are three signs of its death: lack of sorrow for missing acts of obedience, lack of regret for mistakes committed, and keeping the company of the heedless dead.  That is because the issuance of obedience from a person is a sign of ultimate happiness and the issuance of disobedience is a sign of wretchedness.  If the heart is alive with gnosis and faith, it is pained by that which will oblige its wretchedness and happy about what will oblige its happiness.  Or, we could say that acts of obedience issuing from the slave is a sign of the pleasure of his Master and the issuance of disobedience is a sign of His anger. 

The living heart feels what pleases his Master and rejoices, and feels what angers Him and sorrows.  The dead heart does not feel anything.  It is the same to it where it obeys or disobeys.  It does not rejoice in obedience and harmony nor is it sad for a mistake or disobedience, as is the business of the physical corpse.  In a hadits from Rasulullah (s.a.w.), “Whoever is delighted by his good actions and grieved by his evil actions is a believer.” 

Sayyidina Abu ‘Abd ar-Rahman ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (r.a.) said, “The believer sees his wrong actions as if they were the foot of a mountain which he fears will fall on him.  The impious sees his wrong actions as flies which land on his nose and he says, ‘Like that’, and swats them away.” 

But the slave must not mostly look at the sign of the wrong action and then have scant hope and a bad opinion of his Lord, as Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.) indicated, “Do not become so overwhelmed by your wrong action that it stops you thinking well of Allah.” 

Regarding fear and hope, people fall into three categories: the people of the beginning who must be dominated by fear; the people of middle, who must have a balance between fear and hope; and the people of the end who are dominated by hope.  When the people of the beginning are dominated by fear, they strive in actions and refrain from mistakes.  By that their end shines: 

سُوۡرَةُ العَنکبوت

وَٱلَّذِينَ جَـٰهَدُواْ فِينَا لَنَہۡدِيَنَّہُمۡ سُبُلَنَا‌ۚ (٦٩) 

And those who strive in Our (Cause)― We will Certainly Guide them to Our Paths: ... (Surah al-‘Ankabut:69) 

The people of the middle turn their worship to purification of their inward, and so their worship is of the heart.  If they were dominated by fear, they would return to the worship of the limbs when what is desired of them is the worship of the inward with the hope of arrival and fear of Allah’s (s.w.t.) Immensity.  So their fear and hope are balanced. 

As for those who arrive, they do not see that they have any action or non-action.  They look at the management of the Real and what flows according to the Decree and meet it with acceptance and pleasure.  If it is obedience, they thank and bear witness to the Favour of Allah (s.w.t.).  If it is disobedience, they apologise, show adab, and do not stop with their selves since they hold that they have no existence.  They watch for what emerges from the element of power and expect His Forbearance, Pardon, Goodness, and Kindness more than they expect His Force and Subjugation.  Imam Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi’i (r.a.) who said: 

“When my heart is hard and my positions are constricted,

I make my hope a ladder to reach Your Pardon.

My wrong actions seem immense to me.

But in relation to Your pardon, my Lord,

Your pardon is far greater.

You continue to Possess Generosity, Abundant Favour and Grace,

Showing Munificence, Pardon and Nobility.

Would that I knew whether I will go to the Garden and rejoice,

Or go the Hellfire, full of regret.” 

Allah (s.w.t.) Says: 

سُوۡرَةُ الزُّمَر

۞ قُلۡ يَـٰعِبَادِىَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَسۡرَفُواْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِهِمۡ لَا تَقۡنَطُواْ مِن رَّحۡمَةِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَغۡفِرُ ٱلذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ هُوَ ٱلۡغَفُورُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ (٥٣) 

Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls!  Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah Forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah az-Zumar:53) 

Reflect on the case of the man who killed ninety-nine people and then asked a monk, “Can I repent?” 

And the monk replied to him, “You cannot repent,” and so he completed the hundred. 

Then he went to a scholar and asked him and he said to him, “Who will come between you and that?  Go to a certain town.  There are people in it who worship Allah.  Be among them until you die.” 

Halfway there, he died and the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment quarreled over him.  So Allah (s.w.t.) Revealed to them to measure the distance between the town he left and the town to which he was going, and he would belong to the people of whichever of them was closer.  So Allah (s.w.t.) Inspired the town to which he was going to come nearer and to the town from which he left to go further away.  He was found to be nearer the town to which he was going and the angels of mercy took him.  The hadits is found in the two Swahih collections. 

Shaykh Shahab ad-Din Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn ‘Umar al-Mursi (q.s.) said ,”When the common people are frightened, they fear.  When they are made hopeful, they hope.  When the elite are frightened, they hope, and when they are given hope, they fear.” 

Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.) said, in Latha’if al-Minan, “The meaning of these words of the shaykh, is that the common people stop with the outward business.  So when they are frightened, they fear since they cannot pass beyond the expression by the light of understanding which the people of Allah possess.  When the people of Allah are frightened, they hope, knowing that beyond their fear and beyond their fear are the attributes of the One they hope for.  One must not despair of His Mercy nor give up hope of His Grace.  So they, therefore, strive for the qualities of His Generosity, knowing that what frightens them is only in order to Gather them to Him and Return them to Him.  When they are made hopeful, they fear His Hidden Will which is beyond their hope and fear that what has appeared of hope is in order to test their intellects to see whether they will stop at hope or penetrate to what is hidden in His will.  That is why their hope provokes their fear.” 

Imam Abu al-Qasim al-Junayd ibn Muhammad al-Baghdadi (q.s.) visited Shaykh Abu al-Hasan Sirri ibn Mughallis as-Saqathi (q.s.) and found him in a state of contraction.  He asked, “What is wrong, Shaykh?  Why are you in contraction?” 

He replied, “A young man came to me and asked me, ‘What is the reality of repentance?’ 

I told him, ‘That you do not forget your wrong action.’ 

The young man said, ‘Rather repentance is that you forget your wrong action.’  Then he left me.” 

Imam Junayd (q.s.) continued, “I said, ‘What the young man said is correct, because when I was in a state of concealment and then He Moved me to witnessing purity, remembering concealment in the state of purity is concealment.’” 

Shaykh Sirri (q.s.) looked at the people of the beginning while Imam Junayd (q.s.) looked at the people of the end.  Each is correct, and Allah (s.w.t.) knows best.


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