Iqazh al-Himam fi Sharh al-Hikam, Chapter Six, Part 3
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.).
Imam Abu al-Qasim al-Junayd ibn Muhammad al-Baghdadi (q.s.) explained waridat and said, “Lights are the mounts of the hearts and the secrets.”
“Light” is a speck in the heart of the slave from the meaning of a Name or Attribute whose meaning flows through his entire being until he directly sees truth and falsehood with which it is not possible to fail to grasp his obligation. Imam Ahmad ibn Ahmad az-Zarruq (q.s.) said that. “Mounts” are camels which are ready for riding, and hearts are the realities which accept things which are understood, Secrets are the realities which accept the tajalliyat. The secret is finer and purer than the heart.
All are names for the ruh. As long as the ruh is darkened by acts of disobedience, wrong actions, appetites and faults, it is called “nafs”. When it is curbed and hobbled like a camel, it is called ‘aql, intellect. When it continues to alternate between heedlessness and presence it is called qalb, heart. When it at peace and still and has rest from the toil of humanity, it is called ruh. When it is purified of the darkness of the sensory, it is called a sirr, secret, since it becomes one of the Secrets of Allah (s.w.t.) when it returns to its source, which is the secret of Jabarut.
When Allah (s.w.t.) Wants to Make someone reach the Presence of His Purity and Convey him to the place of His intimacy, He Supports him with the waridat of lights, like mounts, on which he is carried in the sedan of Divine Concern, Fanned by the gentle breeze of Guidance and Surrounded by the Help of Divine Care. So the ruh travels from the worlds of humanity to the worlds of spirituality until it becomes one of the secrets of Allah (s.w.t.) which only Allah (s.w.t.) Knows:
سُوۡرَةُ بنیٓ اسرآئیل / الإسرَاء
… قُلِ ٱلرُّوحُ مِنۡ أَمۡرِ رَبِّى وَمَآ أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ ٱلۡعِلۡمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬ (٨٥)
... Say: “The spirit (comes) by Command of my Lord of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you (O men!)” (Surah al-Isra’:85)
So the lights, which are the waridat, are the mounts of the hearts which carry them to the Presence of the Knower of the Unseen worlds. The mounts of the secrets carry them to the Jabarut of the Almighty, All-Compelling.
So suluk, wayfaring, is guidance and jadzb, attraction, is Divine Concern. In the warid of awakening and advance, suluk conveys him, and in the warid of arrival, jadzb conveys him. The lights which are the mounts of the hearts convey them through suluk, although in it they are conveyed with the sweetness of the light of awakening and advance, and so all their suluk becomes jadzb. As for the lights which convey them on the mounts of the secrets, they convey them by means of jadzb mixed with suluk. This conveying is greater, and Allah (s.w.t.) Knows best.
“Then he explains how they travel on this mounts and what hinders them in the journey.
The army of the heart is light. The army of the self is darkness.”
When Allah (s.w.t.) wishes to Help His slave, He Reinforces him with the armies of light and cuts off the reinforcements of darkness and otherness. Darkness is a speck which falls into the self from passion from the impediments of illusion and so it obliges blindness to the truth which gives falsehood control over the reality. So the slave remains without insight. Imam az-Zarruq (q.s.) said that.
We already mentioned that the nafs, ‘aql, qalb, ruh and sirr are names for the same thing. It is the divine luminous lathifah lodged in this dark physical vessel. Its names vary according to its different states and stages. An example of that is the rain which falls to the roots of a tree and rises in its branches and so leaves appear and then blossoms and then flowers and then the fruits which grow until it is complete. The water is the same, but its names vary according to its different stages. That is like what Shaykh Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad as-Sahili (q.s.) said, in al-Bughya.
According to this, the qalb confronting the nafs in battle is an allusion to the difficulty of the ruh moving from the land of darkness, which is the place of the nafs, to the land of light, which is the qalb, and what is beyond it. The heart fights it in order to move it to its source. It does not want to go and sinks to the earth of humanity and its appetites. The heart has the lights of the waridat to support it and help it so that it can ascend to the Presence which is its source and where its homeland lies. It is as if the lights were its armies since they strengthen it and help it against the darkness of the nafs. These lights are the waridat which were already mentioned.
When the nafs relies on appetites and they take control of it, it is as if they had become its army. They are darkness since they veil it from the truth and prevent it from witnessing the suns of gnosis. When the self uses the armies of its darkness and appetites to embark on disobedience or appetite, then the qalb moves against it with the armies of its light and there is a battle between them. When Allah (s.w.t.) Desires concern and assistance for His slave, He Reinforces him with the armies of lights and cuts off, from the nafs, the reinforcements of otherness. So light overcomes darkness and the nafs retreats in defeat. When Allah (s.w.t.) Desires to disappoint His slave, He Reinforces the nafs with otherness and cuts off the shining of lights from the qalb. So the qalb is victorious by the business as it should properly be, and is disappointed when things are the opposite.
Imam az-Zarruq (q.s.) said, “Light has three reinforcements. The first of them is certainty which is not sullied by doubt. The second is knowledge which is accompanied by insight and clarification. The third is inspiration which prepares for eyewitnessing. Darkness has three reinforcements. The first is the weak certainty, the second is ignorance predominating in the nafs, and the third is compassion for the nafs. The basis of all of that is being content with the nafs and or not being content with it. Its manifestation has three levels: acts of disobedience, appetites and heedlessness.”
So light is the army of the qalb because it is discloses the realities of things and so the truth can be distinguished from falsehood.
لِيُحِقَّ ٱلۡحَقَّ وَيُبۡطِلَ ٱلۡبَـٰطِلَ وَلَوۡ كَرِهَ ٱلۡمُجۡرِمُونَ (٨)
That He might justify truth and prove falsehood false, distasteful though it be to those in guilt. (Surah al-Anfal:8)
So the qalb is helped in its advance to the Truth with a clear intention, and the nafs with the army of its darkness is defeated since darkness does not remain when light is clear, as he indicated:
“Light unveils. The inner eye judges.
The heart both advances and retreats.”
The business of light is to unveil things and make them clear so that their beauty is clear from their ugliness. Part of the business of the opened inner eye is to judge beauty as beautiful and ugliness as ugly. The heart advances to what is confirmed as beautiful and retreats from what is confirmed as ugly. You could say, it accepts that which will benefit it and retreats from that which will harm it. The metaphor for all that is when a man enters a dark house in which there are scorpions and snakes and ingots of gold and silver. He does not know what to take and what to leave, nor what will benefit him from what will harm him. When he brings a lamp into it, he can see what will benefit him and what will harm him, and what is safe for him and what he should beware of.
It is the same for the heart of the disobedient believer. He does not distinguish between the bitterness of disobedience and the sweetness of obedience. When he is illuminated by the light of taqwa, he recognises what will harm him and what will benefit him, and can distinguish between the truth and the false. Allah (s.w.t.) Says:
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ إِن تَتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ يَجۡعَل لَّكُمۡ فُرۡقَانً۬ا … (٢٩)
O you who believe! If you recognise Allah, He will Grant you a criterion (to judge between right and wrong), ... (Surah al-Anfal:29)
This refers to a light by which we can distinguish between the true and false. Allah (s.w.t.) Says:
أَوَمَن كَانَ مَيۡتً۬ا فَأَحۡيَيۡنَـٰهُ وَجَعَلۡنَا لَهُ ۥ نُورً۬ا يَمۡشِى بِهِۦ فِى ٱلنَّاسِ كَمَن مَّثَلُهُ ۥ فِى ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتِ لَيۡسَ بِخَارِجٍ۬ مِّنۡہَاۚ … (١٢٢)
Can he who was dead to whom We gave life, and a light whereby he can walk amongst men, be like him who is in the depths of darkness, from which he can never come out? Thus to those without faith their own deeds seem pleasing. (Surah al-An’am:122)
أَفَمَن شَرَحَ ٱللَّهُ صَدۡرَهُ ۥ لِلۡإِسۡلَـٰمِ فَهُوَ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ۬ مِّن رَّبِّهِۦۚ …ٍ (٢٢)
Is one whose heart Allah has opened to Islam, so that he has received enlightenment from Allah, (no better than one hard-hearted)? … (Surah az-Zumar:22)
This light which unveils things is the light of the waridat which are the mounts which bear the hearts to the knower of the unseen worlds. The first is the warid of awakening whose business is to dispel the darkness of heedlessness, and then the light of certainty appears and so the inner eye judges heedlessness to be ugly and wakefulness to be good. The heart then advances to remembrance of its Lord and retreats from what would make it heedless to its Lord. This is the light of the seekers.
The second is the light of the warid of advance whose business is to dispel the darkness of others. The radiance of gnosis and secrets appears and so the inner eye judges others to be harmful and secrets to be good. The heart then advances to the radiance of the secrets and retreats from the darkness of others. This is the light of the travelers.
The third is the light of the warid of arrival whose business is to dispel the darkness of phenomenal being and the cloak of preservation. Then the light of the tajalliyat of the Maker of being appears and the heart advances to witnessing its Master and retreats from turning to other than Him. This is the light of those who arrive. It is the light of the face-to-face encounter. The light of what is before it is the light of directing oneself.
We could say that it is the light of islam, iman and ihsan. The light of islam dispels the darkness of disbelief and disobedience and the light of submission and compliance appears and the inner eye judges kufr and disobedience to be ugly, and the light of islam and submission to be good. So the heart advances to obeying its Lord and turning away from what will put him far from his Lord. The light of iman, faith, dispels hidden shirk and so the radiance of sincerity and faithful truthfulness appears. Therefore the inner eye judges shirk to be ugly and harmful and sincerity and it is good to be beautiful. So the heart advances to the tawhid of his Lord and turns from shirk and its evil. The light of ihsan dispels the darkness of other and so the light of the existence of Master appears, and the inner eye judges the darkness of secondary effects to be ugly and the light of the One Who Effects to be good. So the heart advances to gnosis of its Master and withdraws completely from other than Him.
We could say that this is the light of the shari’ah, the thariqa’ and the haqiqah. The light of the shari’ah dispels the darkness of idleness and falling short, so the light of striving and resolve appears and the inner eye judge’s idleness to be bad and striving to be good. So the heart advances to the striving of the limbs in the obedience of its Lord and retreats from following its portions and passion. The light of thariqa’ dispels the darkness of evils and faults, and the radiance of purity appears and its fruits from the knowledge of the unseen and so the inner eye judges that faults are ugly and that purity and the knowledge of the unseen is good. So the heart advances to what purification demands and retreats from what prevents it in divestment and adornment. The light of haqiqah dispels the darkness of the veil and the beauties of the lovers appear to him. We could also say the light of haqiqah dispels the darkness of beings so that the light of witnessing and eyewitnessing appear and the heart advances to witnessing lovers inside the veil and retreats from what cuts it off from adab with lovers. May Allah (s.w.t.) make us among them forever in this abode and in the Abode of Peace! Amin.
Since the basis of every light, secret and good is obedience of Allah (s.w.t.) and the root of every darkness, veil and distance is disobedience of Allah (s.w.t.). One of the signs of the light of the heart is its joy in obedience and its sorrow for disobedience, Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.) informed us of the meaning of delight in obedience, which is the reason of the light of the hearts and the keys to the unseen:
“Do not be overjoyed at obedience because it has issued from you.
Rejoice in it because it has come from Allah to you.
‘Say: It is the Favour of Allah and His Mercy that should be the cause of their rejoicing.
That is better than anything they accumulate.’”
The hadits was already quoted: “Whoever is delighted by his good actions and grieved by his evil actions is a believer.” People fall into three categories in rejoicing in obedience. One group rejoice in them because they hope that they will bring them bliss and avert from them His Punishment. They see that they issue from themselves for themselves and so they are not free of their strength and power in them. They are the people of His Words:
إِيَّاكَ نَعۡبُدُ … (٥)
You do we worship ... (Surah al-Fatihah:5)
Another group rejoices in them since they are the sign of pleasure and acceptance and a reason for nearness and arrival. They are gifts from the Generous King and mounts which carry them to the presence of bliss. They do not think that they themselves possess either action or non-action nor power nor strength. They think that they are Conveyed by Pre-Eternal Power and Directed by the Primal Will. They are the people of His Words:
… وَإِيَّاكَ نَسۡتَعِينُ (٥)
… and Your Aid we seek. (Surah al-Fatihah:5)
The worship of the people of the first category is for Allah (s.w.t.) and the worship of the people of the second category is for Allah (s.w.t.) and by the Power of Allah (s.w.t.). There is a great difference between them.
A third group rejoices in Allah (s.w.t.) rather than anything else, and are annihilated to themselves, going on by their Lord. If obedience appears from them, it is a favour they owe Allah (s.w.t.). If an act of disobedience appears from them, they apologise to Allah (s.w.t.), showing adab with Allah (s.w.t.). It does not diminish their joy if an error appears from them nor does it increase if an act of obedience or wakefulness appears them because they are by Allah (s.w.t.) and for Allah (s.w.t.). They are the people of 'there is no strength nor power except by Allah (s.w.t.). They are the gnostics of Allah (s.w.t.).
If obedience and good appear from us, do not rejoice in it since it issued from us. If we do so, we will be guilty of shirk with our Lord. Allah (s.w.t.) has no need of us and our obedience and He has no need of the one who obeys other than Him. The Almighty Says:
وَمَن جَـٰهَدَ فَإِنَّمَا يُجَـٰهِدُ لِنَفۡسِهِۦۤۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَغَنِىٌّ عَنِ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ (٦)
And if any strive (with might and main), they do so for their own souls: for Allah is Free of all needs from all Creation. (Surah al-‘Ankabut:6)
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, relating from his Almighty Lord, “O My slaves! If the first and last of you, all the jinn and all the men among you, possessed the heart of the most Divine cognisant man among you, that would not increase My kingdom in any way.” Rejoice in it since it is a gift from Allah (s.w.t.) to you indicating that we have obtained His Generosity, Favour and Kindness.
So joy is in the bounty of Allah (s.w.t.) and His Mercy. Allah (s.w.t.) Says:
قُلۡ بِفَضۡلِ ٱللَّهِ وَبِرَحۡمَتِهِۦ فَبِذَٲلِكَ فَلۡيَفۡرَحُواْ هُوَ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّمَّا يَجۡمَعُونَ (٥٨)
Say: “In the Bounty of Allah and in His Mercy ― in that let them rejoice”: that is better than the (wealth) they hoard. (Surah Yunus:58)
So the Favour of Allah (s.w.t.) is His Guidance and Granting of success, and His Mercy is His Selection, and Bringing them near. It is said that the Favour of Allah (s.w.t.) is Islam and His Mercy is the Qur’an. It is said that the Favour of Allah (s.w.t.) is the Guidance of the diyn and His Mercy is the bliss of the Garden. It is said that the Favour of Allah (s.w.t.) is the tawhid of the evidence and the proof and His Mercy is the tawhid of witnessing and eyewitnessing. Other things are said, and Allah (s.w.t.) knows best.
Since joy at obedience might give rise to the illusion that it is a branch of seeing it and looking at it, He Removed that. He Prevents those who are traveling to Him and those who have reached Him from seeing their actions and witnessing their states.
“The travellers – because they have not made sincerity with Allah in them a fact.
Those who have arrived - because when they see Him,
He makes them oblivious to seeing their actions.”
“Prevents” here means “makes withdraw”. If it is interpreted, then it is more evident and easier as indicating being cut off from misfortune. Using the term “qat’”, “cutting off”, implies a sort of diminishment which would not be the case if he had said, “He made those who are travelling to Him and those who have reached Him withdraw from seeing their existence.”
As for those travelling, it is because they have not made sincerity with Allah (s.w.t.) in them a face, and as for those who arrived, it is because they do not witness other-than-Allah with Allah (s.w.t.), that is Allah (s.w.t.) has Made those travelling to Him and those who have reached Him withdraw from seeing their outward actions and witnessing their inward states. As for those travelling, it is because they always suspect themselves. Whenever some good action issues for them, or wakefulness or some ecstasy appears to them, they see that they have enormous shortcomings and imperfections and therefore they are too ashamed before Allah (s.w.t.) to rely on themselves or to give themselves any credit. They therefore withdraw from their actions and states and rely on the bounty of their Lord.
So truthfulness is the core and secret of sincerity, that is they have made the secret of sincerity a reality in them and so they do not see their actions nor rely on them. One of the gnostics was asked, “What is the sign of the acceptance of action?”
His reply was, “Your forgetting it and cutting of your seeing it on the basis of the evidence of the Words of Allah:
… إِلَيۡهِ يَصۡعَدُ ٱلۡكَلِمُ ٱلطَّيِّبُ وَٱلۡعَمَلُ ٱلصَّـٰلِحُ يَرۡفَعُهُۚ ۥ… (١٠)
.... To Him mount up (all) words of purity: it is He Who Exalts each deed of righteousness. ... (Surah Fathir:10)
Imam Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-‘Abidin (q.s.) said, “If you still see any of your actions, that is evidence that it is not Accepted because Accepted actions are Raised Up and are Withdrawn from you and you are Prevented from seeing them. That is the evidence of Acceptance.”
As for those who have arrived, it is because they are annihilated to themselves, withdrawn in witnessing the One they worship. So all their movements and stillness are by Allah (s.w.t.) and from Allah (s.w.t.) and to Allah (s.w.t.) since it is impossible to witness Him and witness other than Him with Him. When an act of obedience occurs from them or issues from them, they witness the One, the Gracious in that.
It is related that when Shaykh Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Musa al-Wasithi (q.s.) went to Nishapur, he asked the companions of Shaykh Abu ‘Utsman Sa’id ibn Salam al-Mighribi (q.s.), “What did your shaykh command you?”
They replied, “He commanded us to cling to obedience and to see our incapacity in it.”
He said, “He has commanded you to pure Magianism! Did he not command you to withdraw from them by witnessing the One who made them occur and originated them?”
Imam Abu al-Qasim ‘Abd al-Karim ibn Huzan al-Qushayri (r.a.) said, “He meant to protect them from pride and to guide them to adab.”
So the pronoun in “He Prevents” refers to Allah (s.w.t.). Know that the travellers in the words of the shaykh are the second category who rejoice in obedience since it is a sign of acceptance and they must be delighted to see it since it is a sign of acceptance. There should be no delight in seeing them themselves since they may delight in them since they are a favour from Allah (s.w.t.) and cease to see them since he relies on Allah (s.w.t.). Here those who have reached Him form the third category who only rejoice in Allah (s.w.t.) and nothing other than Him. Allah (s.w.t.) Knows best.