< Thoughts & Readings

Saturday, May 31, 2003  

The Joy of Being Good and the Misery of the Rebel You should know that all men are included in one or another of two classes: the class of people who are at peace, content and happy, doing good deeds in a state of obedience to Allah, and those who are in a state of insecurity, doubt and misery in their rebellion against the prescriptions of Allah. Both the quality of obedience and that of rebelliousness are present in each human being. If the purity, the sincerity and the good in one are dominant, one's selfish characteristics are transformed into spiritual states and one's rebellious side is overcome by one's good side. On the other hand, if one follows the low desires of one's flesh and the tendencies of one's ego, one's rebellious character dominates that which is selfless and obedient in one, and one becomes a rebel. If both these contrary characteristics are equal, the hope is that the good will overcome, as is promised: He that doeth good shall have ten times as much to his credit... (Sura An'am, 160) And if Allah so wishes, He may even further increase His favours. Yet that person in whom evil and good are equal will still have to pass the terrible trial of the day of the Last Judgment, while for the one who was able to transform his selfishness into selflessness, the low desires of his flesh into spiritual aspirations, there will be no trial, there is no accounting to be given. He will enter Paradise without passing through the terrors of the Last Day. Then he whose balance (of good deeds) will be found heavy will be in a life of good pleasure and satisfaction. (Sura Qari'a, 6-7) For the one whose errors are heavier than his good deeds there will be punishment in proportion to the amount of his crimes, after which he will be taken out of hellfire and, if he has faith, will enter Paradise. Obedience and rebelliousness mean good and evil. These are present in every man, yet they do not stay as they are. The good may turn into evil and the evil into good, as our Master the Prophet, may Allah grant him peace, says: 'While the one in whom good is dominant finds salvation, peace and joy, and becomes good, and the one in whom evil is more than good rebels and becomes evil, the one who recognizes his errors and repents and changes his ways will have his state of rebelliousness transformed into obedience and devotion.' It is indeed decreed that both good and evil, both the blissful life of the obedient believer and the miserable life of the rebel, are states that people are born with. Both are hidden in the potential of every man. Our Master the Prophet, may Allah grant him peace, says, 'The one who is fortunate enough to be good is good in his mother's womb, and the wretched sinner is a sinner already in his mother's womb.' That matter of destiny is not to be discussed, for if one is led to such discussion one is led to heresy and disbelief. Furthermore, no one has the right to use destiny as an argument to abandon all effort, all good deeds. One may not say, 'If my destiny is to be one of the good, why should I tire myself trying to do good deeds, as I am already blessed?' or, 'If it is my destiny to be evil, what good will it do to be good?' Obviously this is not right. It is not proper to say, 'If my state is fixed from my past, what benefit or loss can I hope for with my efforts in the present?' The best example given to us is the comparison of the first man and prophet, Adam, may Allah grant him peace, with the accursed Devil. The Devil put the blame for his revolt on his destiny and became an infidel and was rejected from the mercy and presence of his Lord. Adam, may Allah grant him peace, admitted his fault. Assuming the responsibility for his error, he asked forgiveness, received Allah's mercy, and was saved. It is incumbent upon all believers and all Muslims not to try to understand the causes of the unfolding of destiny. Whoever does this will become confused and will gain nothing but doubt. He may even lose his faith. The faithful must believe in Allah's absolute wisdom. Everything that man sees happening in himself and in this world certainly has a cause, but that cause is not to be understood by human logic, as it is based on divine wisdom. In the life of this world, when you encounter blasphemy, hypocrisy, duplicity and all other things that seem to be evil, let these things not shake your faith. Know that Allah Most High in His absolute wisdom is responsible for all and everything, and He does what appears to be negative in order to express His infinite power. Manifestation of such overwhelming power may seem to some unbearable, and therefore negative, but there is great mystery in this that no one other than our Prophet, may Allah grant him peace, could know. There is a story of a wise man who prayed to his Lord, saying, 'O Divine One, all is preordained by you. My fate is Yours, the will is Yours, the wisdom which You put in me is Your creation!' As he prayed, he heard a response without sound, without words, coming from inside him, which said, 'O My servant, all that you say belongs to the One Who is unique and united. It does not belong to the servant.' The believing servant said, 'O my Lord, I have tyrannized myself, I am in error, I have sinned!' After that confession he again heard the voice from within him: 'And I have had mercy upon you, I have erased your faults, I have forgiven you.' Let the ones who have faith know and be thankful that all the good they do is not from them but through them. Success comes from the Creator. When they err, let them know that their mistakes and their sins belongs to them, that they may repent. Wrong comes from the unjustified ambitions of their egos. If you understand this and follow it, you belong to the ones who are mentioned by Allah as: Those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or who have wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind and ask for forgiveness for their sins - and who can forgive sins except Allah? - and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done, for such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens with rivers flowing underneath - an eternal dwelling... (Sura Al-'Imran, 135) It is better for the believer to accept that he himself is the source of all his own faults. That is what will save him. It indeed is much better than attributing his faults to the Almighty and Powerful, the One who created all. When our Master said, 'It is already known when one is in the mother's womb whether one will be a sinner or be righteous.' he meant by 'the mother's womb' the four elements that give birth to all material forces and faculties. Two of these four elements are earth and water, which are responsible for the growth of faith, and of knowledge, give life to the living, and appear in the heart as humbleness, for earth is humble. The other two elements are fire and ether. They are the opposite of earth and water. They burn, destroy, kill. It is the Divine that unites these opposites in one being. How do water and fire coexist? How are light and darkness contained within the clouds? It is He Who shows you lightning, causing both fear and hope; it is He Who raises up the clouds heavy with rain. Nay, thunder repeats His praises and so do the angels, with awe. He flings the loud-voiced thunderbolts and therewith strikes whomsoever He will... (Sura Ra'd, 12, 13) One day someone asked the saint Yahya ibn Mu'adh ar-Razi, 'How did you come to know Allah?' He answered, 'By the union of opposites.' The opposites pertain to, and in fact are a requirement for, the understanding of Allah's attributes. Facing the divine truth man becomes the mirror in which the truth is reflected, but also in which the attribute of Might is reflected. A man contains the whole universe in his being: that is why he is called the unifier of multiplicity, the macrocosm. Allah has created him with His two hands, His hand of grace and His hand of all-compelling, crushing power and wrath. Therefore he is a mirror that shows both sides, both that which is coarse and dense and that which is fine and exquisite. While all the divine Names are manifested in man, all other creations are only one-sided. Allah created the accursed Devil and his progeny from His attribute of all-compelling wrath. He created the angels from his attribute of grace. The qualities of sanctity and continuous worship are contained in the angels, while the Devil and his followers, created from Allah's attribute of crushing wrath, have the quality of tyranny. That is why the Devil became arrogant and, when ordered by Allah to prostrate himself to Adam, refused. As man contains in himself both the high and low characteristics of the universe, and as Allah has chosen His messengers and saints from among men, these messengers are not free from error either. Prophets when they receive the mission of prophethood are made innocent of great sins, but the small sins and errors may still be manifested in them. The saints, on the other hand, are not rendered incapable of sins. Yet it is said that when saints who come close to Allah reach perfection, they come under divine protection against committing great sins. Shaqiq al-Balkhi, may Allah sanctify his secret, says. 'There are five signs of righteousness: a gentle disposition and a soft heart, shedding tears of regret, asceticism and not caring about the world, being unambitious, and having a conscience. The signs of a sinner are also five: to be hard-hearted, to have eyes that never cry, to love the world and the worldly, to be ambitious, and to be without conscience and shame.' The Prophet, may Allah grant him peace, attributes four qualities to the righteous person: 'He is dependable and safeguards that which is given into his care, and returns it. He keeps his promises. He is truthful and never lies. He is not harsh in discussion and does not break hearts.' He also mentions four signs of the sinner: 'He is unfaithful and undependable and careless with things entrusted to his care. He does not keep his promises. He lies. He fights and curses as he discusses and he breaks hearts.' Moreover, the sinner is unable to forgive the errors of his friends. This is a sign of faithlessness, just as to forgive is the greatest sign of the believer, for Allah Most High Himself ordered His beloved Prophet, may Allah grant him peace: Hold to forgiveness, command what is right, but turn away from the ignorant. (Sura A'raf. 199) The order, 'Hold to forgiveness' is not given only to our Master the Prophet. It addresses everyone, and certainly all people who believe in Muhammad, may Allah grant him peace. If a king orders his governor to do a certain thing, abiding with that order becomes incumbent upon everyone under that governor, even though the order itself was given only to him. In the order, 'Hold to forgiveness' the word 'hold' means 'Make it a habit, make it a part of your nature, a part of yourself.' Whoever has a forgiving nature receives one of Allah's Names, the Name of The Forgiver. Allah promises, If a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah... (Sura Shura, 40) Know that righteousness turns into rebellion against Allah, and rebellion and sin into righteousness, not by themselves, but through influences and by one's own doing and effort. As our Prophet says, 'All children are born as Muslims. It is their mothers and fathers that turn them into Jews, Christians or Magian fire-worshippers.' Everyone has the potential of being good and of being bad. Therefore it is wrong to judge someone or something as totally good or totally bad. It is right to think that if someone has more good in him than he has bad, he is righteous, and if his bad features are more than good, the reverse. This does not mean that man gains Paradise without good deeds, nor does it mean that he is thrown into hellfire without sins. To think this way is in opposition to the principles of Islam. Allah has promised Paradise to His believing servants who do good deeds, and has warned the rebelling, non-believing sinners who set themselves up as partners to Him with the punishment of hellfire. He said, Whoever does good, it is for himself, and whoever does evil, it is against himself. Then to your Lord you will be brought back. (Sura Jathiya, 16) This day everyone is rewarded with what he has earned. No injustice this day! Surely Allah is swift in reckoning. (Sura Mu'min, 17) Man can have nothing but what he strives for. (Sura Najm, 39) And whatever good you send before for yourselves, you will find it with Allah. (Sura Baqara, 110) -Shaykh 'Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, The Secret of Secrets (Sirr al-Asrar)

posted by SuFiSTiC | 5/31/2003 08:08:00 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."
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
Md Mubaraq
Md Firdaus

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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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