< Thoughts & Readings

Saturday, April 03, 2004  

On Steadfastness (Istiqamah) God Most High has said, “Those who say, ‘Our Lord is God,’ and then be steadfast, the angels descend upon them’” (41:30). Abu Bakr Muhammad bin al-Husayn bin Furak reported from Thawban, the client of the Prophet, that the Prophet said, “Even if you cannot do it perfectly, be steadfast on the straight path. Know that the best of your religion is prescribed prayer and that no one but a believer will ever maintain a constant state of ablution.” Steadfastness, continuing straight ahead without deviation, is a level that contains the perfection and completion of everything. By its existence the good things are attained and their balance and harmony kept. If someone lacks the quality of steadfastness, his effort is weak and his exertion fails. God Most High has said, “Do not be like the woman who unravels the thread she has spun” (16:92). If someone does not possess this directness as his attribute, he will not progress from the stage he is occupying to another, for this undertaking has not been firmly founded. One of the conditions for the future development if the beginner is that he remains steadfast in the conduct that pertains to the goal. One of the marks of steadfastness in beginners is that their ordinary daily conduct is not adulterated by apathy. One of its marks in those of the middle stages is that they do not indulge themselves in the stages they reach. And one of its marks in the advanced is that no veil interrupts their transactions with God. I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, “Steadfastness in the path has three steps: first, preparation (taqwim), then performance (iqamah) and then steadfastness (istiqamah). Preparation is the disciple of the ego, performance is the refinement of the heart; and steadfastness is the drawing near to God.” Abu Bakr commented that His saying, “Those who say, ‘Our Lord is God,’ and then be steadfast, the angels descend upon them” (41:30), means that they do not attribute partners to Him. Umar said that it meant that they do not swindle as foxes do. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq refers to the observance of the fundamental principles of unity (tawhid). The statement of Umar refers to the search for interpretations that obscure the clear sense of the Quran and commitment to the terms of one’s responsibilities. Ibn ‘Ata said, “They ‘then continue steadfast’ in singleness of heart with God Most High.” Abu Ali al-Juzjani said, “Be content with the state of steadfastness; do not be a seeker of miracles. It is your ego that is excited by the search of miracles, while your Lord Almighty and Glorious calls for you through steadfastness.” I heard Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami say that Abu Ali al-Shabbuwi said, “I saw the Prophet in a dream and asked him, ‘It is related, O Messenger of God, that you said, “Sura Hud has turned my hair white.” Which part of it affected you like that? The stories of the prophets and the destruction of nations?’ ‘No, none of these,’ he said to me. “It was the saying of the Most High, ‘Continue steadfast as you have been ordered.'" (11:112) It is said that only the great have the capacity for undeviating travel because it means leaving familiar things and separation from outward forms and customs and standing before God Most High in true candidness and integrity. It was thus that the Prophet said, “Even if you cannot do it perfectly, be steadfast on the straight path.” Al-Wasiti said, “Direction is the trait through which good qualities are perfected and through lack of which they are corrupted.” The story is told that Shibli said, “Steadfastness on the path is to see the day of judgment now.” It is said that steadfastness in speech is to abandon backbiting; in actions, to prohibit deviation; in spiritual works, to forbid apathy; and in states, getting rid of the veil. I heard Abu Bakr Muhammad bin al-Husayn bin Furak say, “The letter 'sin' in istiqamah is grammatically the 'sin' of asking for something. People with istiqamah request that the Truth establish them first in unity (tawhid), then in constancy in fulfilling their promise to Him and adhering to the guidelines of the divine law.” Know that steadfastness on the straight path necessarily produces continuous miracles and acts of grace. God Most High said, “If they had continued steadfast on the path, We would have brought them to the drinking of abundant water.” He did not say, “We would have given them a drink,” but rather, “we would have brought them to the drinking.” The form, “I brought him to the drinking,” implies “I gave him that which provides water.” This indicates it to be perpetual. I heard Muhammad bin al-Husayn say that Junayd said, “I met a young seeker in the desert under an acacia tree. ‘What has brought you to sit here,’ I asked. He said, ‘A treasure I have lost.’ I continued on and left him. When I returned after the pilgrimage, I found myself again with this young seeker. He had moved off to a place nearby the bush. ‘What is the meaning of your sitting here?’ I asked. ‘I found what I had been searching for in this place,’ he said, ‘so I will remain here.’ Junayd said, ‘I don’t know which was the more noble, his attachment to the search for his state or his attachment to the place in which he was granted his desire.’” -Imam Abu-l-Qasim al-Qushayri, Principles of Sufism (Risalah Qushayriyyah)

posted by SuFiSTiC | 4/03/2004 08:33:00 AM |
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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