Posted by: Seeker of the Sacred Knowledge | August 24, 2011

Purification Of The Heart


The heart is the real site of action of all spiritual events.  It is the only site in the human body at which Allah looks and judges and into which He sends help. It is built up and embellished by the spirit of faith and its acts of loving devotion. It is where all unification (tawhid) of Allah takes effect and from where the body takes its harmonious salvational commands.  It is ruined by the lack of faith which lack  sends the body into open or secret rampage and cause all sorts of mischief on earth and threby prevents salvation. In short it is our heart’s condition that eventaully makes or breaks us.  Since we are after salvation we better listen to what our Wise and  Gracious Lord says “On that Day wealth and sons avail nothing, except who comes with a pure heart”. We shall insha Allah know in a moment what a pure heart (qalbun saleem) means.  But let us also listen to the Messenger of Allah sws “Allah do not look at your works and forms but He looks at your hearts and intentions”.

Now to see how most of us fail in our salvation strategies let us look at ourselves:  We study with absorption and ape and go for the externals like grooming, costume, accessories and ritual but are often caught red-handed in hypocrisy and impiety when something to share is thrown amidst us. Then muslim becomes muslim’s wolf.  So long there is no prize to share we manage to stage show most loving muslim friendship. To see this point let us listen to this famous sufi story.  One day a sheikh was moving among the stalls in the marketplace, with his semi-bend murids in tow. At one point one murid noticed a group of dogs happily dozing off on top of each other.  “Look my master, how even dogs are getting along better than we men” he exclaimed. “Yes?” rejoined the sheikh and added “will you please go and buy some offal from that butcher with these coins”.  When the offal was brought the sheikh threw it into the midst of the peaceful heap of dogs. At no time all stood up wide awake and began to attack each other more fiercely than attacking the offal itself.

“Here you are” the sheikh put the stone into the gap “so long there is no prize of this world to share imperfect muslims get long marvelously. But when the offal which is this world shows up they become all bark and teeth”. We have a good example of this in the tragic friendsgip of maulana Jalaludin Rumi with Shems- e Tabrizi. The two great souls were so fascinated and absorbed in each other that maulana’s supposedly ‘adoring for Allah’ murids except the few true ones like Husammaddin Chelebi were sore with satanic  jealousy.  After much ranting and puffing they could bear this love for Allah’s sake no more. They conspired to get rid of Shems. At second attempt they managed to kill him with many dagger strikes and threw his body somewhere nobody could find afterwards.  That brutality and insult was his some murids’ way of thanking him! Maulana could only cry and lament to the end of his days thereby producing so many sufi literary masterpieces to the love of Shems like his Divan.  Which story shows how futile is most sheikhs’ most efforts to reform even his awoved murids except the few-  THOSE WHO CAME WITH A PURE HEART. We people are such that  even when we are given the best chances to admit reform we burn the chance with our impure heart’ s hellfire.

 We have in a very old sufi manuscript a very moving and illuminating  story which demonstrates the miraculous saving capability of a pure heart in itself, despite everything. It is a about a very famous sheikh who was a fake and a disgrace inside but as a master hypocrite he had managed to fool many. As a result both loathing gossip and deceived praises were uttered about him among the public.  Most of his murids were equally ambiguously considered.  But one particular murid had such a pure heart that he only believed the best about his master and never doubted his truth or worth.  In the end he attained such high a station that when he found out his sheikh’s true condition he was able to save him as well through his intercession for him-  i.e., the sheikh repented in his hands and became a true sheikh.

 From these stories and others we should be able to see what that ‘pure heart’ which the only salvational asset should be like. 

 It is a heart so pure and fine tuned for the glorification of Allah that it should see only glory and elevation wherever its love-oozing gaze  turned.   And that in fact is the ultimate reality of existence.  Read if you wish “Everything in the heavens and earth glorify Him” (Surat al Hashr, 24). If you can see that bravo to you! You need not me telling you anything about salvation. Of course such an elevation is difficult at the best of times to achieve.  But that is the benchmark. Which means the higher opinions we entertain about Allah swt, rasulullah sws and fellow muslims the purer are our hearts. Let alone fellow muslims many of us cannot even maintain their high opinion of Allah and unawarely display this disgraceful lapse by resenting and complaining about His treatment of them- if not in words at least in body language-   as of course dictated by their impure hearts.

But let me tell you something. There is one infallible sign and test about whether a heart is pure and working itself towards happy salvation or impure and working itself towards painful hell.  It is its set of opinions of and their resultant intentions towards fellow muslims, or if an aspiring sufi, his fellow murids and sheikhs.  To the degree that a person’s heart wishes for and believes in the spiritual altitude of his fellows and broadcasts that good opinion it is a pure heart acceptable to Allah for sending His more blessings into. This person by his good opinion and praises about every fellow believer so much contributes to the establishment of affaction among them that his baraka spills over the whole lot and saves many who could not be saved otherwise.  Contrariwise, to the degree that a person’s heart considers his fellows with suspicion and contempt, resents their being trusted and respected by others and with his derogatory or at least brakes-applying remarks wants to limit the love and trust among them his heart is impure, he contributes to the weakening of the ties and the spreading  of coldness among them and his unblessing spils over the whole lot and causes the failure of many who could otherwise be saved. 

So let us praise Allah with highest imaginable opinions about Him, let us praise the Prophet sws with highest imaginable opinions except Divinity, let us praise Allah’s saints with highest imaginable opinions except prophethood and Divinity and let us praise our fellow muslims with highest imaginable opinions INCLUDING SAINTHOOD-  at least potentially.

Lastly let us contemplate a famous saying among old pious muslims. They used to say “Suspect everybody you meet to be Khidr and behave accordingly”.

 A day may come for you when you may find out that this in fact may be the case.  For the time being therefore busy yourself with contributing to the mutual elevation of belivers in each others’ eyes and shun contributing to their limitation in each others’ eyes.  Amen.

 TRUTH IS UNCHEATABLE

 There is a funny saying “Having his cake and eating it too”.  Some very talented and intelligent people fail in their bid for salvation because they cannot stop trying to cheat the system (of salvation).  You see it is based on total honesty and consistent decency.  A truly honest man cannot be anything but honest in all departments of life.   From paying his taxes to a secular and even infidel government to doing something about dishonorable feelings and desires that occupy his heart he is an all-out fighter against all temptations that waylay his path to his salvation.  Mind you, salvation is nothing but defeating one’s own inner enemies which  block him from doing as God loves.  Therefore o sufi aspirant,  examine your life in its entirety and at all times for as Socrates said “an unexamined life is not worth living and does not befit a true man”.  

 I assure you that you will find stores and mountains of badness in your system which are purposely allowed by Allah to enter and grow there for testing you and it is your duty to expel and replace by their opposites. Let me give you an example. Are you tempted to be sold something at a low price by mistake and walk away with the goods?   Will you reuse a postage stamp on a letter sent to you which happnes not to be cancelled by the post office?  Then you are not worthy of the path.  And remember, our lethal moral failures need not be material or monetary.  They can and often are emotional and equally deadly.  Are you jealous of anybody and wait your eyes light up with his or her fall, for example?  Are you lusting after something or somebody in secret and are not prepared  to drop the dirty obsession?  Again too bad.  In one essential sense salvation is purification and Allah’s Light only dwells in a purified heart.

 WHAT IS GREATEST GNOSIS

 Whatever we do for Allah or we THINK we have been doing for him He remains the PERFECT ALLAH Who is in need of nothing whatsoever from us or anybody or anything else while we remain the IMPERFECT servant in need of Allah in everything AS BADLY AS BEFORE.   In other words the gap between the Creator and the created remain unfillable.

And that is how it should be.  But more on that in a moment.  

 There is a fine saying from Turkish sufi masters (in fact Naqshibandi masters were used to be known as ‘Hajagane Turk’ – Turkish Teachers- )  which read: “Kishi noqsanin bilmek gibi irfan olmaz” which translates “There can be no higher gnosis than somebody knowing his imperfection”.  That is why the spiritual stage of ‘an-nafs al-lawwama’ (the constantly self-blaming soul) is the very first stage of wilaya (sainthood) and NEVER LEAVES THE SUFI EVEN WHEN HE OR SHE HAS ATTAINED THE HIGHEST STAGE-  For spiritual stages are like the floors of high rise buildings.  On the foundation of faith floor upon floor is built and the owner of the rising building is the resident of the whole.  He may and often does move between the floors of his psychic house. WERE HE TO LOSE THE LOWER FLOORS HE COULD NOT GUIDE OTHERS FOR HE WOULD NOT RECOGNIZE THEIR PROBLEMS.   Don’t you see how the best parents are those who can move all over the earlier stages of their evolution and therefore can relate to the feelings of their children in any stage?  They may act like a baby to make the baby go to pieces with merry laughter or commiserate with the teenager about a lost love and then skilfully salvage the son or daughter with his or her parental higher power.  Retaining all acquired levels and skills is essential for our salvation as well as others.

 So the most perfect of creation Muhammad Mustafa sws worshipped his Lord at the summit of his Mi’raj (Ascension) as ardently and anxiously as he did back on earth.  As fearfully as when he heard the first Revelaton onMountHira!  How wonderful is that!  Tabarak Allahu ahsan al Khaliqeen!

 Our imperfection is so absolute that it is high adab to consider ourselves non-existent vis-a-vis Allah subhanahu wa taala.  We are pure need (a gaping whole) and He is Pure Succor (having a fitting plug always ready).  So at all levels the essence of our worshipping Him is a two-pronged pleading-   praising and thanking Him is the one prong and deploring our sins and asking for His forgiveness is the other.

 Now, why this incurable imperfection?  Because His Unalienable Perfection versus our incurable imperfection is the only arrangement that makes His Infinite Rahmat operate in our favor on the one hand and tasting His Rahmat is the most pleasurable experience we may taste on the other.  Neither of the two parties can do without their respective roles.  Isn’t it hunger that always make our eating so pleasurable?  How could we sleep so sweetly had it not been for tiredness and sleepiness? 

 Why all this?  Because we NEED to know our most advantageous place, we need to know and keep our humility more than anything else on this Path and if it is lost we have only the Satan’s future. Nauzu billah.    

 SEEING ALLAH EVERYWHERE

 Mystics talk of ‘seeing God’, ‘Beatific Vision’ etc. and ulama debate on whether seeing will be with the heart’s eye or the eyes on the head.  Of course nobody understands what they are talking about including the debaters themselves. That is because they don’t know and those who know either cannot put what they know into words or can do it in which case it can only be simple-  for Truth is always simple.  It is us who are complicated-   with the complication of ‘knowing’ too much too wrongly.  So like Jesus alaihis salaam said babes understand while sages are baffled.

 The truth is that Allah is everywhere, inside out and in every direction you look.  Read if you wish: “Huwal awwalu wal akhiru waz zahiru wal batin wa huwa bi kulli shay’in alim”=   “He is the First and the Last and the Outward and the Inward and He knows of everything” (Surat al Hadid: 3).  Read if you wish “Faaynama tuwallu fathamma wajhullah”= “Whichever direction you turn to there is the Face of Allah”  (Surat al Baqara: 115).

What do these mean if not for the ones who keep Allah always in their hearts they also find Him in front of their eyes, in and beyond forms but never belonging to any but all belonging to Him!

 Yet, none of the creatures is Allah but they are FROM Allah and therefore all bear His seal and signature and act and talk on His behalf one way or another.  However,  and this is a very important, nay, vital however…. you cannot will yourself into this station and vision by desire or strategy.  The only way which leads you there and the only method which obtains it for you is ZIKRULLAH.  And do you know what zikrullah is?  It is keeping Allah in mind always NOT as you think He is but as HE TELLS YOU HE IS. He tells you Who and How He is in His Revation contained between the two covers of the Qur’an and a life-long, over and over again reading and study of the Qur’an is the only adequate method for achieving the constant zikr in the way Allah is entitled to and worthy of and without this no amount of messing around and learning from lesser substitutes will do, whatever and whoever they may be.  The sign that anybody is a candidate for the gnosis of Allah (ma’rifatullah) is that that person falls in love with and is infatuated by and obsessed with the Qur’an, feels cannot read and ponder over it enough, and cannot drop it from either his tongue or his heart. This includes your sitting with those who are more advanced than you in the science and gnosis of the Qur’an so that your own learning and understanding are accelerated. therefore, o aspiring man or woman of God, take this advice to heart and be a friend of the Qur’an so that you are permitted and empowered to attain and keep the constant ZIKR of Allah so that Allah keeps your zikr and guides every atom of your evanescent body and every move of your permanent spirit to His Pleasure.  Amen. 

 The bride and bridegroom together with guardians and witnesses present themselves.

 A man need not have a guardian.

 A previously married woman can similarly act on her own.

 A never married woman needs a guardian like a father, brother or someone similar close relation.

 The couple must have decided on the kind and amount of marriage gifts.  Then they assemble in the presence of the wedding officer usually an imam and the officer asks each party whether they agreed on the kind and amount of wedding gift to be given by the groom to the woman and once these are declared he asks each party of their guardians whether they willingly with no complaints agree to the union.  Once each side states consent the officer declares the parties married and recites a prayer which all join with amen.

In the course of course witnesses are identified and their names put down in the document alongside the names of the parties the place and date specified.

 

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