< Thoughts & Readings


Monday, May 19, 2003  

The Dervishes There is a group of people called the Sufis. Four interpretations are given for this name. Some see, looking at their exterior, that they wear rough woollen garb. In Arabic the word for wool is suf, and they call them Sufis from this. Others, looking at their way of life free from the anxieties of this world, and at their ease and at peace, which in Arabic is safa, call them Sufis on that account. Yet others, seeing deeper, look at their hearts, which are purified of everything other than the Essence of Allah. Because of the purity of those hearts, in Arabic safi, they term them Sufis. Others who know call them Sufis because they are close to Allah and will stand in the first row, in Arabic saff, before Allah on the day of the Last Judgment. There are also four realms, four worlds. The first is the world of matter, of earth, water, fire and ether. The second is the world of spiritual beings, of the angels, of jinns and dreams and death, of the rewards of Allah – the eight paradises, and the justice of Allah – the seven hells. The third is the world of the Word, the Beautiful Names of Allah's attributes, and the Hidden Tablet which is the source of all of Allah’s messages. The fourth is the realm of Allah’s pure Essence, a realm indescribable because at that level there are no words, names, attributes or likenesses. None except Allah knows it. There are also four kinds of knowledge. The first is knowledge of Allah’s precepts, and is concerned with the outer aspects of the life of this world. The second is mystical knowledge, the inner knowledge of causes and effects. The third is the knowledge of the spirit, self-knowledge, and through it, knowledge of the divine. Finally, there is the knowledge of the truth. The souls are also of four kinds: the material soul, the enlightened soul, the sultan-soul and the divine soul. Appearances, the manifestations of the Creator, are also of four kinds. The first is the manifestation in forms and shapes and colour, as if in His artwork. The second manifestation is in actions and interactions, in things that happen. The third is His manifestation in attributes, qualities, the character of things. Finally there is the manifestation of His Essence. The intellect, or reasoning power, is also of four kinds: the intelligence which deals with worldly affairs of this life; the intelligence which considers and thinks of the hereafter; the intelligence of the soul, spiritual wisdom; and finally the total Causal Mind. The subjects just discussed are also four: the four kinds of knowledge, the four souls, the four kinds of manifestation and the four intellects. Some men stay at the first level of knowledge, soul, manifestation and intellect. They are the inhabitants of the first paradise called ‘the paradise of the security of home’, that is the earthly paradise. Those who are at the second level of knowledge, soul, manifestation and intellect belong to a higher level of Paradise, the garden of the delight of Allah’s grace upon His creatures, which is the paradise within the angelic realm. Those among men who have reached the third level of knowledge, soul, manifestation and wisdom are in the third level of Paradise, the heavenly paradise, the paradise of the divine Names and attributes in the realm of unity. Yet those who seek and attach themselves to the rewards of Allah, even if they are in Paradise, cannot see the true reality within themselves and within the things around them. Those men of wisdom who seek the truth, those who have achieved the true state of the dervish, the state of total need – not the need of anything but Allah, the need of Allah alone – leave everything and seek nothing but truth. They find what they seek and enter the realm of truth, the realm which is closest to Allah, and live for nothing except the Essence of Allah. These abide with the divine order, ‘Take refuge in Allah’, and follow the advice of the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, ‘Both this world and the hereafter are unlawful for the one who seeks Allah’. Our Master does not mean that the world and the hereafter are unlawful. He means that the ones who wish for and seek Allah’s Essence deprive their flesh and their egos of their needs, loves and demands of the world and the worldly. The seekers of truth reason this way: this world is a created being; we are also created beings, we are both in need of a Creator, of an Owner. How could one in need ask for what he needs from another who is in need himself? What way is there for a created being other than seeking his Creator? Allah says through the lips of His beloved Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, ‘My love, My existence is their love for Me’. Our Master the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, says: ‘My state of utter need, my poverty, is my pride.’ The utter need and love of Allah is the basis for the search of the dervish. The state of poverty which is the pride of our Master is not the poverty of the lack of the worldly. It is the abandonment of everything but the wish for the Essence of Allah. It is to leave all the goods – not only those of this world, but those promised in the hereafter – and thus in total need to present oneself to one’s Lord. This is a state of bringing oneself to nothingness, of disappearing in the Essence of Allah. It is to empty one’s being of everything which is for one’s being and to empty one’s heart of everything but His love. Then the heart becomes worthy to receive the promise of Allah, ‘I do not fit into My heavens nor My earths, but I fit into the heart of My faithful servant’. The faithful servant is he who excludes all other than the One from his heart. When a heart is thus purified, Allah enlarges it and fits Himself into it. Hadrat BaYazid al-Bistami, may Allah sanctify his secret, describes the greatness of such a heart, saying, ‘If all that exists in and around the Throne of Allah, that vastest of all of Allah’s creations, were to be placed in a corner of the perfect man’s heart, he would not even feel the weight of it.’ Such as these are the beloved of Allah. Love them and be around them, for those who truly love will be with their beloved in the hereafter. The sign of this love is to seek their company, to wish to hear their words, and with their sight and their words to feel longing for Allah Most High. Allah, speaking through the lips of His Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, says: ‘I feel the yearning of the faithful, of the righteous, of the true servants, for Me, and I too long for them.’ These lovers of Allah appear different from others, and their actions are different from those of others. At the beginning, when they are novices, their actions appear balanced between good and bad. When they are advanced and reach the median level their actions are full of beneficence. In all cases the good which comes through them is not only in their following the precepts of Allah and of the religion, but in actions which contain beatitude and shine with the light of the meaning within appearances. They are as if clad in clothing of coloured light which generates from them in accordance with their levels. As they overcome their egos and the tyranny of the lower desires of their flesh with the blessing of the divine phrase LA ILAHA ILLALLAH – there is no god but Allah – and reach the level of beings who can discriminate between right and wrong, condemn the wrong within themselves and wish for the right, a sky-blue light emanates from them. When from that state, with the help and inspiration of Allah they opt for the good and leave the bad, a red colour engulfs them. With the blessing coming from the Name of Allah, HU, that Name which none other than the Truth can describe, they reach the level that is cleansed of all harmful attributes and bad actions and find a state of peace and serenity. Then a green light emanates from them. When all ego and its wishes, when all personal will is left behind through the blessing of HAQQ, the Truth, and when they submit their wills to the will of Allah and are pleased with all that comes from Allah, their colour turns to white light. These are the descriptions of dervishes from their novitiate at the beginning of the path until they reach a median stage. But the one who reaches the limits of this path has neither form nor shape nor colour. He becomes as if a ray of sunshine. The sunshine is colourless. Its light does not resemble any colour. The dervish who has reached the highest level has no being to reflect light or colour. If anything, his colour would be black, which absorbs all light. This is the sign of the state of annihilation. For others who look at him, this colourless, dark appearance becomes a veil over the light of wisdom which he possesses, just as the night is a veil over the sunshine. Allah says that He Made the night as a covering, and made the day as a means of subsistence. (Sura Naba’, 10-11) For those who have reached the essence of the mind and of knowledge, there is a sign in this verse. Those people who have come close to truth in the life of this world feel as if they are imprisoned here in a dark dungeon. They spend their life in pain and misery. They suffer great hardships, pressure of circumstances, in a world of total darkness. The Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, says, ‘This world is a dungeon for the faithful’. As he points out, calamities fall first upon the prophets, then upon those who are closest to Allah, then in descending scale upon those who are trying to come close to Him. Therefore it is appropriate for the dervish to wear black and to tie the black turban around his head, for it is the clothing of the one who is prepared to suffer the pains of this path. In reality, black is appropriate clothing for those who should mourn for having lost their humanity and their possibility. Many men carelessly lose that great gift, proper only to mankind, of being conscious, of being able to see the truth, thus killing with their own hands their eternal life. Putting out the divine love yearning in their hearts, separating themselves from the holy spirit, they lose the possibility of returning to the origin, to the cause. Although they do not know it, they are the ones who suffer the greatest of calamities. If they were aware that they had lost all the benefits of the hereafter, the eternal life, they would indeed wear the clothing of mourning. A widow who has lost her husband mourns for four months and ten days. This is a mourning for the loss of that which belongs to this world. The mourning for the one who has lost the good of the eternal life should be eternal. Our Master the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, says: ‘Those who are sincere are always at the edge of a great danger’. How well this description fits the one who has to walk on tiptoe with the greatest of care! But this is the state of the dervish who has left his being and is in the realm of annihilation. His poverty of this world which he has left behind and his total need for Allah is great, and he looms as a great beauty over and above humankind. Our Master says, ‘Poverty is a blackened face in both worlds’. He means that the one who has purposefully chosen to be poor in this world, disappearing to this world, does not reflect any of the colours of this world, but absorbs only the light of the divine truth. The dark of his face is like a beauty spot which further enhances his beauty. Those who have come in sight of the truth, after beholding the beauty of the truth, do not care to see anything else. They cannot look with love and yearning at anything else. For them Allah becomes the only beloved, the only thing that exists. That is their state in both worlds. That is their only purpose. Finally, they have become Men, and Allah has created Man in order that he know Him, in order that he reach His Essence. It behoves all men to seek and know the reason for their creation and to feel the meaning of this reason, the duties which befall them in this world and in the hereafter, so that they do not spend their life here in vain, so that they do not regret forever in the hereafter – engulfed, drowned in the yearning which they will finally realize in eternal remorse. -Shaykh 'Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, The Secret of Secrets (Sirr al-Asrar)



posted by SuFiSTiC | 5/19/2003 11:53:00 PM |
As for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains the ego its desires, the Garden is shelter.
(The Snatchers:40)
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The Fire is surrounded by all kinds of desires and passions, while Paradise is surrounded by all kinds of disliked, undesirable things."
(Bukhari)
Whoever does good at night is rewarded during the day and whoever does good during the day is rewarded at night. Whoever is sincere in abandoning a desire is saved from catering to it. God is too noble to punish a heart that has abandoned a desire for His sake.
(Abu Sulayman ad-Darani)
Beware of your ego, and trust not its mischief;
The ego is worse than seventy devils.
(Arabic Poem)
Abu Bakar Balkhi
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I seek God's forgiveness, and do not claim that my intention in producing this Blog is confined to good religious purposes; how may I do so when I am aware of the hidden desires, egotistic passions, and worldly wishes that I harbour? I do not claim innocence for myself; the ego is indeed an inciter to evil, save when my Lord shows mercy; my Lord is indeed Forgiving, Merciful. O God! I seek Your protection against my committing idolatry [shirk] knowingly, and Your forgiveness for that of which I am not aware! I ask God to make me and all other believers benefit from this Blog and to render my production of it purely for the sake of His Noble Countenance.

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