My Dear Beloved Son or Daughter
by Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad Al-Ghazali
INTRODUCTION OF THE BOOK
It has been learned that one of the students of Imam Ghazali (Rahmatullahi Alayhe [RA - May Allah shower His mercy upon him]), who acquired a lot of knowledge and spiritual benefits from him over a number of years, had a thought in his heart. He thought that he spent a lot of time learning from Imam Ghazali (RA) over a number of years from different branches of religious knowledge and gave a lot of sacrifices towards that end. However, he still did not know which branch of knowledge from among the branches of knowledge he studied, would be of real help to him, would illumine his grave, would be beneficial to him on the Day of Judgment and which branches of knowledge would not be of benefit to him on the Day of Judgment, so that he could refrain from those branches of knowledge because the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon him) said:
"A'auzu Billahi Min 'Ilm-il La Yanfa'au".
"I seek Allah's refuge from the knowledge which is of no benefit".
This disciple of Imam Ghazali (RA) kept thinking along these lines for a few days and then wrote a letter to Imam Ghazali with the view of getting an answer to his dilemma along with some other questions. Furthermore, he asked in his letter to Imam Ghazali (RA) for some advice and to teach him a supplication that he could always recite. He wrote in his letter that although Imam Ghazali (RA) has written numerous books on this issue such as "Ahya al-Uloom ad-Deen" (Revival of the Knowledge of the Path to God), "Kimiya as-Sa'ada" (Alchemy of the Ultimate Success and Happiness), "Jawahir ul-Quran" (Priceless Gems of the Holy Quran), "Arba'een" (Forty Steps), "Minhaj ul 'Aabedeen ila Jannatu Rabbul 'Aalameen" (Best Way for the Worshippers of God Leading them Towards the Paradise of the Lord of All Universes), etc., this weak individual is in need of something that he could always study and always act upon its injunctions. In reply to his letter, Imam Ghazali (RA) sent him the following advices.
IMAM GHAZALI'S RESPONSE TO THE LETTER
In the Name of Allah (God), the Most Compassionate and the Most Merciful.
All praises belong to Allah alone, the Lord of all the universes and blessings and peace of Allah be upon His messenger Muhammad and on all of his descendents and followers.
My dear beloved son and true friend!
May Allah, the Exalted, grant you a long life for His worship and obedience and may He enable you to walk on the path of His beloveds. You should know that the fountain of all good counsel is the holy existence of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) because the constitution of all counsel is based on his Ahadith (traditions) and Sunnah (outward character and conduct as well as internal states). Every counsel (advice) contrary to his Ahadith (traditions) and Sunnah (outward character and internal states) will be of no benefit. Countless accounts of advices have been written and told in the light of the Ahadith (traditions) and Sunnah (outward character and internal states) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). If you have received any guidance from them then you do not need any advice from me. However, if you have not received any counsel from the counsels of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then tell me, in all these years, what knowledge have you acquired from me? My dear beloved son! Among the counsels of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), is the counsel:
"'Alamatu I'radiAllahi 'Anil 'Abdi Ishtighaluhu Bima La Ya'nehe Wa Inimra'un Zahabut Sa'atuhu Min 'Umrihi Fi Ghairi Ma Yukhlaq Lahu Lihariyyun Ayyatula 'Alaeyhe Hasratun."
"A servant of Allah's involvement in useless things is an indication that Allah has removed His special favors from him/her (or has removed him/her from His Grace). And if the servant is spending even a moment from his/her life on things other than for which Allah has created him/her for, then it's a matter of great sorrow."
Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has furthermore said:
"Mun Jaawazal Arba'eena Sinatu Wa Lam Yughlab Khairuhu 'Ala Sharrehi Fal Yatajahhaza Ilan Nari."
"An individual whose state, even after forty (40) years of age, is such that good in him/her does not prevail over the evil in him/her, then [this individual] should get ready to go to Hell."
My dear beloved son! It's very easy to give this advice to all the people of the whole world but it's very difficult to act upon it oneself. It's because, those in whose hearts the pleasures of the world and following of their desires [from the lower self] dominate, they find the advice and guidance bitter. These people's hearts are trapped in the worldly desires and pleasures. In this respect, this individual is worthy of special mention, which learns wisdom, philosophy and worldly learning like that and thinks that this knowledge will be a cause of salvation for him/her in the life hereafter along with earning for him/her fame and prestige in the world. He/she thinks that it's not necessary to act on this knowledge and that he/she is exempt from acting upon it. This belief, which is wrong, is of those who study philosophy. All Glory and Honor to Allah the Great. This individual does not even know this much that the knowledge that he/she acquires on which he/she does not even act upon, will be a reason for punishment for him/her on the Day of Judgment. Does this person not know that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
"Inna Ashaddan Nasi 'Azabun Yaumal Qiyamati 'Alimu Lum Yunfa'huAllahu Bi 'Ilmihi."
"On the Day of Judgment, the most severe torment will be given to the scholar (person of knowledge) to whom Allah had not benefited from his/her knowledge (i.e. he/she did not act upon the acquired knowledge)."
It has been narrated in the traditions of the intimates (friends/saints) of Allah, that one saint saw Shaykh Junaid Baghdadi (RA) in his dream after his death and asked him:
"O Abu al-Qasim! Inform me about your state after your death!"
Shaykh Junaid Baghdadi (RA) responded:
"Worships and signs (Isharaat) all turned out to be useless. But some Rak'at (cycles) of prayers I did at the time of Tahajjud (third part of the night) were of benefit."
My dear beloved son! Do not be deprived of good deeds, do not be without the knowledge of the external matters (Shari'ah), and do not be without internal excellences (noble inner qualities). Have firm certitude that only knowledge without good deeds will not benefit you on the Day of Judgment. You can understand this [important] point from the example that if someone is passing through a jungle or desert holding ten sharp swords, good arches along with some other weapons, and knowing the art of war and method of using these weapons and all of a sudden is confronted by a lion. Tell me, can this person be saved without using these weapons? You know very well that this person cannot be saved. Likewise, you should know that if someone knows hundred thousand points of knowledge (or Fiqh/legal issues) but does not act on them then this knowledge will be of no benefit to this person.
Second example is of a person who is sick and knows that his/her cure lies in such and such medicines but does not use these medicines, and then will the knowledge of medicines and of their ability to cure his/her illness is of any help in actually curing the illness [of this person]? You can understand it quite well that merely having the knowledge of wisdom cannot cure the [spiritual/inner] diseases. A poet has said that even if you take (buy) two thousand pounds of wine you will not be intoxicated until you drink from it.
Acquiring a lot of knowledge and continually browsing a lot of books but not acting upon that knowledge will not be of any benefit to you unless and until you make yourself deserving of Allah's mercy through deeds of righteousness. Until then, the Grace of Allah will stay away from you. Listen, Quran says the following in this respect:
"Wa Anna Laeysa Lil Insaani illa Maa Sa'aa"
"Human beings will get only what they have strived for."
This proves that human beings can achieve success only after struggling and striving. My dear beloved son! I know that you might have read that this verse of Quran was abrogated. I suppose that this verse was abrogated but what do you say about the following two verses:
"Famaey Ya'mal Mithqaala Zarratin Khairaey Yarahu Wa Maey Ya'mal Mithqaala Zarratin Sharraey Yarahu."
"And so, the one who shall have done an atom's weight of good, shall see it, and the one who shall have done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it." (Quran, 99:7-8)
"Famun Kana Yurju Liqaa-a Rabbihi Fal Ya'mal 'Amalun Salihun."
"Hence, whoever looks forward [with hope and awe] to meeting his/her Lord [on the Day of Judgment], let him/her do righteous deeds, and let him/her not ascribe unto anyone or anything a share in the worship due to his/her Lord." (Quran, 18:110)
"Innal Lazina Aamano Wa 'Aamaylus Sawlihaatey Kaanat Lahum Jannaatul Firdausee Nuzula Khalideena Feeha."
"Verily, those who believe in Allah and perform righteous deeds, for them the highest Paradise is for their hospitality in which they will live forever."
At another place (in Quran), Allah the Exalted has said:
"Illa mun Taaba Wa Aamana Wa 'Aamila 'Aamalun 'Sawlihun."
"Except for those who repented [from their sins and wrongdoings] and believed and performed righteous deeds."
And what do you say about the following holy Ahadith (traditions of Prophet Muhammad [May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him])?
"Buniyal Islamu 'Ala Khamsin Shahadatu Al La Ilaha IllAllahu Wa Iqamus Salaata Wa Eetaa-uz Zakaata Wa Saumu Shahre Ramadana Wa Hijjul Baeyta ManIstata-a Ilaeyhi Sabeela."
"Islam's foundations are on five things: to testify that there is none worthy of worship (or Lordship) other than Allah and Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is His messenger, to establish regular prayers (Salaat), to pay the zakaat (obligatory charity), to fast in the holy month of Ramadan, and to perform Hajj (pilgrimage to the House of God) if one possesses the capacity (financial and physical) to do so."
"Al Imanu Iqrarum Bil Lisaaney Wa Tasdeequm Bil Janaaney Wa 'Aamalum Bil Arkaaney."
"Iman (faith) is to testify with tongue, and to certify with one's heart, and to act on the teachings (of Islam)".
After the explanation of this truth, if you get the thought in your heart that I am saying that a slave [of God, i.e., a human being] will go to Paradise not on the basis of Allah's Grace but on the basis of his/her own [good] deeds, then you should understand that you have not understood what I said. On contrary, what I am saying is that a slave will enter Paradise because of Allah's Favor, Generosity, and Blessings. However, unless the slave makes himself/herself deserving of Allah's Mercy through his/her worship and servitude (obedience), until then he/she will not be entitled to Allah's Mercy and Favor. I am not narrating this fact instead Allah, the Exalted, is saying:
"Inna Rahmata Allahi Qareebum Minal Muhsineen."
"Verily, the Mercy of Allah is close to the doers of good."
It means, how a slave [of God] will enter Paradise without the Mercy of Allah, the Exalted? I repeat this [important point], how will a slave enter into the Paradise [without Allah's Mercy]? But if someone says that one will enter into the Paradise because of one's faith (Iman) then there are many difficult valleys (obstacles) in front. Among them, the first difficult way (obstacle) is to safely take with oneself one's faith (Iman).
My dear beloved son! Have the conviction that unless and until you work, you will not get the pay (or compensation of your work). There was man from among the Children of Israel who used to excessively worship Allah. Allah sent an angel to him to test him who said:
"Allah, the Holy, says that you put yourself in trouble for no use since your worship is not accepted by Him and you will go to Hell."
Hearing this message from the angel, the righteous man replied:
"Allah, the Exalted, has created us for His worship and servitude and our job is to serve Him [no matter what] and He is the Owner [of each and everything and everyone including myself] and the Powerful One."
Then this angel appeared in the Presence of Allah, the Exalted, and said:
"O my Lord! You are the Knower to the secrets of this universe and You also know what Your worshipper slave has replied."
On this Allah, the Exalted, said:
"If this slave of Ours does not turn his face away from Our worship and servitude, then We will also not turn Our Face away from him."
"Ishhadu Ya Malaaikatey Anni Qad Ghafartu Lahu."
"O My angels! All of you be [My] witnesses that I have forgiven him."
My dear beloved son! Listen to what the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says:
"Haasibu Qabala Un Tuhasabu Wa Zinu Qabala Un Tuuzanu."
"Take accounts of your selves (i.e. judge and correct your selves) before you will be taken into accounts [on the Day of Judgment] and weigh your deeds (i.e. critically self-analyze and correct the shortcomings in your deeds) before your deeds will be weighed (judged then punished or rewarded on the Day of Judgment)."
Ali (May Allah bless his countenance) said:
"Mun Zanna Annahu Bidunil Juhdi Yasilu Fahuwa Mutminun Wa Mun Zanna Annahu Bibazlil Juhdi Yasilu Fahuwa Mut'ibun."
"A person who thinks that he/she will go to the Paradise without (righteous) deeds is misguided and the person who thinks that he/she will go to the Paradise only through striving is merely busy with hard work."
Shaykh Hasan Busri (May Allah shower His Mercy upon him) says:
"Talabul Jannati Bila 'Amalin Zambum Minaz Zunubi."
"To desire Paradise without good deeds is a sin from among the sins."
Another intimate of Allah says:
"Al Haqiqatu Terku Mulahizatil 'Amali La Terkul 'Amali."
"The reality [of knowledge] is that one acts on it (i.e. knowledge) without admiring it (i.e. one's good actions), however one should not stop performing [good] deeds [even if there is a danger of one admiring one's own good deeds]."
Our master of the two worlds (in this life and in the life hereafter), Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says in a much better, clear, pure, and beautiful way compared to the above sayings:
"Al Kayyeysu Mun Daana Nafsahu Wa 'Amila Lima Ba'dal Mauti Wal Ahmaqu Manit Taba'a Nafsahu Hawaha Wa Tamanna 'Ala Allahi Illa Mani Wafi Riwayati 'Ala Allahil Mughfirati."
"Intelligent is the one who subdued his/her Nafs (self, i.e., evil desires and inclinations of the lower self) and performed [good pious] actions for the life hereafter and mindless (stupid) is the one who subdued his/her Nafs to pleasures, greed, and [evil and vain] desires and thought that Allah is with him/her." In some (Hadith) traditions it says: "[This mindless person] hopes for Allah's forgiveness."
My dear beloved son! You stayed awake at nights to continually rehearse (memorize/repeat) knowledge and sacrificed your sleep to study it. If your intention was to gain worldly (material) benefits and worldly prestige and status then:
"Fawailul Laka Thumma Wailul Laka."
"There is sadness (woe) for you and again there is sadness (woe) for you."
However, if your intentions were to establish (strengthen first in yourself and then in the rest) the Path to God (Deen) brought by Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), attaining moral uplift and civilization, and eliminating evil from your self then:
"Fatuba Laka Thumma Tuba Laka."
"For you is the happiness and blessings and again for you is the happiness and blessings."
"Sahrul 'Uyuna Bighairi Wajhika Sana ay'un
Wa Baka uhunna Bighairi Faqdika Batilun"
"[O my Lord!] The wakefulness of the eyes, except for beholding [the beauty of] Your Countenance, is useless.
And unless it's for [the sorrow of being separate from] You, the weeping (tears) of the eyes for someone [or something] else [other than You O Lord!] is gravely wrong."
A tradition (hadith of Prophet Muhammad [May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him]) says:
"'Ishu Ma Shay'ta Fa Innaka Mayyeytu Wahbib Ma Shay'ta Fa Innaka Mufariqatun Wa'mil Ma Shay'ta Fa Innaka Tujza Bihi."
"[O Human Being!] Spend your life the way you like but [keep in mind that one day] you will die, and love whoever you like but [keep in mind that one day you] will get separated from him/her, and perform deeds the way you like but [keep in mind that one day] you will surely get their just compensation [good or bad depending on your deeds]."
What benefit have you derivad for yourself and what have you achieved from studying knowledge, i.e., knowledge of argumentation (Ilmul Kalaam), social values (Ilmul Ikhlaq), medicine (Ilmut Tib), astrology (Nujoom), linguistics, poetry, conducting wars, etc.? What benefit have you obtained other than wasting your life and gaining worldly fame? I have read in Prophet 'Isa's (Jesus [Peace of Allah be upon him]) Gospel (Injil) that between the time the copse (dead body of a human being) is placed in a casket and brought to the grave, Allah, the Exalted, asks the corpse forty (40) questions with His Power. In the first question Allah, the Exalted, asks:
"'Abdi Qad Tahherta Munzaral Khalqi Sineena Fahul Tahherta Munzari Sa'atun."
"O My Slave! You decorated (beautified) yourself [with knowledge of outward matters] for many years to show off to the [mortal] creations [of Mine]. But for My sake only, did you ever purified your heart [from evil and heedlessness] even for a moment?"
[Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said in an authentic tradition: "Allah does not Look at your faces and your bodies but Looks at your hearts (the state it's in, what goes into it, and what transpires into it, therefore it's extremely important to purify the heart which is forever in Allah's Sight).]
My dear beloved son! Everyday, the Voice of Allah resonates in your heart:
"'Abdi Ma Tasna'u Bighairi Wa Anta Majfufum Bikhairi."
"O My slave! Why do you worship [Me] for show off and ostentation, even though the good and the bad [circumstances] are both in My Hands? For this reason, you should worship me [alone] with sincere intention and devotion [and not to impress any of My mortal creations who are not capable of benefiting or harming you even by a little except by My Will]."
My dear beloved son! Knowledge without actions is madness and actions without knowledge are useless. The knowledge that today, does not keep you away from sins and that does not evoke in you the desire to obey Allah, remember, will not save you tomorrow from Hellfire. If you do not perform righteous deeds today and do not make up for the time you wasted in the past then on the Day of Judgment you will be saying:
"Ferje'yna Na'mal Saaliha."
"Send us back [to the world, O our Lord!] so that we [can] perform the righteous deeds."
Then it will be said to you:
"O you the mindless one! That is where you are coming from."
My dear beloved son! Create courage in yourself and create movement in your body for struggle [on the Path of God]. Make efforts for performing pious deeds because then you will be going to the grave. Those, who already are in the grave before you, are waiting for you every moment to see when you come to them. Beware! Without fruits (good deeds) do not even get close to them. Abu Bakr Siddiq (May Allah be pleased with him) says:
"Hazihil Ajsaadu Qafasut Tuyouri Awo Astabalud Dawab."
"These bodies are either cages of birds or dwellings of animals."
So think where you are in? If you are in the cage of birds then when you will listen to "Irji'I ila Rabbika!" "Return to your Lord!", you [will be liberated and] will fly to a very high place to sit.
"Ihtuzza 'Arshur Rahmaani Limauti Sa'adibne Muadh."
"The Throne of the Compassionate One shook with the death of Sa'ad bin Muadh."
But God forbid if you are among the animals for whom it has been said:
"Uulaaika Kal An'aami Bal Hum Adallu."
"These people are like animals yet even more misguided."
Be certain that you will arrive carrying your luggage from the place of Zawiya (spiritual retreat) to the place of Hawiya (Hell), i.e., from this world to straight to the Hell. Once Shaykh Hasan Busri (May Allah shower His Mercy upon him) was given cold [and sweet] drink. As soon as he took it in his hand he took a sigh and fell unconscious. When he regained consciousness, people asked him what had happened to him. He replied:
"Zakartu Umniyyata Ahlin Naari Heena Yaquluna Le Ahlil Jannati Un Uufidu 'Aleyna Minal Ma'i."
"I remembered the wish of the inhabitants of Hell when they will plead to the inhabitants of Paradise to give them a little water."
O beloved! If knowledge without actions had been sufficient for you and if you did not need actions then why Allah, the Exalted, would say at the dawn:
"Hul Min Ta ibin Hul Min Sa ilin Hul Min Mustaghfirin."
"Is there anyone who repents from sins? Is there anyone who asks [Me of anything]? Is there anyone who begs [Me] for forgiveness?"
Then this proclamation of Allah, the Exalted, would have been useless. In fact, this proclamation of Allah, the Exalted, at dawn is for:
"Kanu Qaleelum Minal Laili Ma Yahja'oon."
"There are only a few [slaves of Allah] who sleep little in the last part of the night [right before dawn which is a blessed time for coming close to Allah]."
Once a group of companions were praising Abdullah bin Umar (May Allah be pleased with them both) in front of the Messenger of Allah (May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) on which the Messenger of Allah (May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
"Nay'mur Rajula Huwa Lau Kana Yusalli Bil Laili."
"He is a good man. I wish he prayed the Tahajjud prayers (optional prayers in the blessed last part of the night before dawn which is indispensable for making spiritual progress in the Path of Allah)."
One day the Messenger of Allah (May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said to a companion:
"La Takthirin Nauma Bil Laili Fainna Kathratan Naumi Bil Laili Tad'oo Sahibahu Faqirai Yaumal Qiyamati."
"Do not sleep too much at night because the one who sleeps too much at night will be empty handed on the Day of Judgment (i.e. he/she did not avail the opportunity of coming close to Allah through Allah's remembrance, prayers, and devotions to Allah at night especially in its last part)."
"Waminal Laili Fatahajjad Bihi Nafilatal Laka."
"[O Beloved Prophet! (May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him)] And in [the last] part of the night perform the Tahajjud prayers [for the sake of Allah] which will be very beneficial for you." (Quran)
In the above verse, it's a commandment from Allah to His Prophet (May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him).
"Wa Bil Ashaarihum Yustaghfiroon."
"And those [true slaves of Allah] at the time before dawn, plead for Allah's forgiveness." (Quran)
In the above verse, there is an expression of gratitude [from Allah to such slaves].
"Wul Mustaghfireena Bil Ashaari."
"And those [true slaves of Allah] seek [Allah's] forgiveness at the time before dawn." (Quran)
In the above verse, there is a mentioning [of such slaves of Allah].
Our master of both the worlds, the Messenger of Allah (May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) says:
"Allah, the Exalted, really likes three sounds: of the rooster [that wakes people up for Tahajjud prayers], secondly of the recitation of the Holy Quran, and thirdly of those who in the last part of the night plead to Allah, the Exalted, for His forgiveness and repent [to Him]."
Shaykh Sufyan Suri (May Allah shower His Mercy upon him) [who was an intimate of Allah], says:
"Inna Allaha Ta'ala Khalaqa Reehun Tahabbu Waqtal Ashaari Tahmilul Azkaara Wal Istighfaara Ilal Malikil Jabbari."
"Allah, the Exalted, has created a wind, that blows in the last part of the night. At that time, those [slaves of Allah] who engage in Allah's remembrance and ask [Allah for His] forgiveness, their voices are presented [by this wind] to the Court of Allah, the Exalted."
Shaykh Sufyan Suri (May Allah shower His Mercy upon him) has also said:
"When the night begins, an angel from beneath the Throne (of Allah) makes the proclamation that all the worshippers should wake up, so those who are granted Tawfiq (good fortune/capability) by Allah get up and start praying. In the middle of the night, a second angel makes the proclamation that all obedient and respectful slaves of Allah should get up. Thus they get up and continue to pray until Sehr (the last blessed part of the night). When it's time for Sehr then a third angel makes the proclamation that all those who seek Allah's forgiveness should get up. Thus they get up and seek Allah's forgiveness. When it's time for dawn, then a fourth angel makes the proclamation 'O you the heedless ones! Get up [the day break has come]!' Then these people get up from their beds like the dead will get up from their graves [upon resurrection on the Day of Judgment]."
My dear beloved son! It has been told in the will of Luqman (Peace of Allah be upon him) that he, advising his son in his will, said:
"Ya Buneyya La Takununnad Deeku Akyas Minka Fainnahu Yunaadi Bil Ashaari Wa Anta Na'imun."
"My son! Do not let the rooster be more intelligent than you are. It shouldn't happen that he (i.e. the rooster) gets up at the last part of the night to make proclamations [for Tahajjud prayers and remembers his Lord] while you keep sleeping [in a deep sleep of heedlessness, carelessness, and ignorance]."
This reality is made clear in the following verses (of poetry):
"Laqad Hatafet Fi Junhil Laili Hamamatun
'Ala Funanin Wahnun Wa Inni Na'imun
Kazabtu Wa Baitil Allahi Lau Kuntu 'Aashiqan
Lama Sabaqatni Bil Buqa'il Hamaaimun
Wa Az'amu Anni Haa'imun Zu Sababatin
Lahu Bi Wa La Abki Wa Tabkil Bahaaimun."
"At night, the dove sitting on the branch [of a tree] is calling on [to its Lord]
While I am in a deep sleep
By the Lord of the House of Allah (Ka'aba)! I am a liar! If I had been a true lover [of Allah]
Then the doves would not have won over me in weeping [in the pain of separation from my Beloved (Allah)!
Alas! I do not even wet my eyes [with tears] while claiming to love [my Beloved Lord!]
While the animals keep weeping [in their love for their Creator]."
My dear beloved son! Our purpose is that you should know what obedience and worship are. Obedience and worship are to follow the Shari'ah (law) of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then whether the commandments are for performing the righteous deeds or for restraining oneself from evil or whether [the commandments] are for following his words or deeds, in other words, whether you do something or not do something, whether you say something or not say something, all these must be in accordance with the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). If you say something then say it according to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). If you keep silent then be silent according to the commandments of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). If you do something or do not do something then do it in accordance with the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). If you do something and you consider it an act of worship but you do not do it to obey the commandment of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then this will not be counted as worship but instead will be counted as a sin even though it might be prayer or fasting. Do you not know that if someone fasts on the [first] day of the two Eids (i.e. two foremost Islamic celebrations) or on the days of Hajj (pilgrimage) then this person will be committing sin? Even though it is fasting but since it's not done in accordance with the commandment of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that's why this person is being sinful. Similarly, if someone performs prayers at a forbidden time (e.g. after Asr [late afternoon] prayer but before sunset or after Fajr [dawn] prayer but before sometime after sunrise, etc.) or at an illegally occupied place then he/she will be called Athim (sinner) and Fasiq (law breaker). Even though it apparently looks like [a legitimate act of] worship but since it was not done in accordance with the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), it is not correct. If a husband has relations with his wife then it is not a sin even though it apparently looks bad. However, since it is done in accordance with the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) therefore it is Halal (permissible or within legal limits). Therefore, it is known [now] that worship is the second name (synonym) of obedience (i.e. worship means obedience).
Similarly, prayers and fasting are counted as worship when they are performed in accordance with the [Divine] guidelines. Therefore, my dear beloved son! All of your words and deeds should be in accordance with the commandments of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). That is, whatever actions you perform and conversations you have should be in accordance with the Shari'ah (Divine law), because whatever the knowledge and actions of [God's] creations, not in accordance with the Shari'ah (Divine law), are clearly misguided and keep them (i.e. creations/human beings primarily) away from the truth. This is the reason why Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) abrogated all [religious] learning from the previous eras.
Therefore, you should not do anything without the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and be certain that you cannot walk (move forward) on the Path of Allah, the Exalted, with [merely] the knowledge that you have acquired. However, this Path [of God] must be traveled through hard work and Mujahadah (intense inner spiritual struggle and exercises) and the pleasures of the self and desires [from the lower self] must be cut (wiped out) with the sword of Mujahadah (intense inner spiritual struggle and exercises). These desires of the lower self cannot be eliminated through immoralities and through the deceptions of false Sufis (i.e. those who claim to be Sufis [True Sufis are those who possess an intimate relationship with God due to the emergence of purified souls after they wiped out evil from the deepest recesses of their souls through Mujahada - spiritual struggles] but in reality they are not, they are simply speaking the words of Sufis and acting like them on the outside while being hollow and devious from the inside). Allah, the Exalted, does not like fine points, i.e., depths of philosophy, and dark times, i.e., a life engulfed in sin (evil and immorality). The tongue speaking the words of deep wisdom and beauty while the heart worshipping heedlessness [from God] and desires of the lower self, this is a sign of mighty misfortune.
Unless you cut (eradicate) the desires (inclinations and tendencies) of the lower self with the sword of truth and Mujahada (intense inner spiritual struggle and exercises), until then the light (illumination) of Ma'arifah (deep intimate knowledge, understanding, consciousness, awareness, relationship with Allah) will not be born in your heart.
My dear beloved son! You have asked [me] about some [spiritual] issues, among which, some cannot be described completely in writing and speech. When you reach that [high spiritual enlightenment] state then you will know them yourself. The lesson of love is not taught but it's born and learned by itself. If you reach that [high spiritual] state then knowing [these issues] will be equivalent to moving from one [spiritual] state to another (Mustahilaat). Because Ishq (intense love) is another name for love and intense desire to seek what one loves (Zauq). Love and Zauq (intense desire to seek what one loves) can neither be described in speech nor in writing and its spirit (meaning) cannot be presented. Just like sweetness, sourness, and bitterness cannot be described by anyone who wants to describe them in writing or speech. Therefore, let it be known, that if you reach this destination [of high spiritual station/enlightenment] then you will know [all this] by yourself. But if you are not able to reach this destination [of high spiritual station] then the truth can be described to some extent in writing and speech.
My dear beloved son! Some of your questions are such that to whatever extent they could be addressed in writing and speech, have been answered in my book Ahya al-Uloom ad-Deen (Revival of the Knowledge of the Path to God) and in other books in detail that you can read. However, they will be explained here too, in a concise way Inshallah (God-willing).
Secondly, you have asked what is essential for those walking on the Path of Allah, the Exalted (i.e. the seekers of Allah). [First condition is that] You should have the knowledge that the first thing that should be present [in a seeker of Allah] is the belief of fear of Allah to such an extent that a seeker does not get involved in an innovation (bid'a, i.e., a matter which is contrary to the established principles of Quran and Sunnah [teachings, actions, outward conduct and inner states of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) such as contentment, patience, gratitude, certitude in God, intimate relationship with God, Ma'arifah (deep intimate knowledge and recognition of God], intense love of God, etc.)]). The second condition is that true and complete repentance (Taubatun Nasuh) should be done in such a way that [a seeker of Allah] will not return to this humiliation [of sins]. The third condition is that even enemies should be kept satisfied to such as extent that none of the creations has any obligation left on him/her. The fourth condition is that one [a seeker of Allah] should acquire [enough knowledge] from the knowledge of Shari'ah (Divine law) so that through it, he/she will be able to follow and obey the commandments of Allah, the Exalted [that are obligatory on him/her]. It is not an obligation to learn from the knowledge of Shari'ah (Divine law) anymore than that. From other branches of knowledge one should learn to the extent that is obligatory on him/her. This fact should be in your knowledge that it has been narrated in the traditions of the intimates of Allah (saints) that Shibli (May Allah shower His Mercy upon him) said:
"I served 400 spiritual masters and guides and I adopted (acted on) only one out of the 4000 Ahadith (traditions) of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that they narrated and left the rest of the Ahadith (traditions). It's because, when I deliberated on this one Hadith (tradition), then I found my salvation in this one Hadith (tradition). I found in this one Hadith (tradition) the knowledge of all who came first and all who came last:
'Aymal Lid Dunya Be Qadre Maqamika Feeha Wa'mal Le Akhirateka Be Qadre Baqaa'ika Feeha Wa'mal Lillahi Be Qadre Hajateka Ilaeyhe Wa'mal Lin Naari Be Qadre Sabrika Alaeyha.'
'Work for the world (or worldly life) as much as you live in it and work for the life hereafter as much as you want to live there and work for Allah, the Exalted, as much as you are in need of Him and work for the Hell as much as you can be patient with its pain and sufferings.' "
My dear beloved son! It is known from this Hadith (tradition) that you do not need much knowledge because to study knowledge more and to acquire it more is Fard Kifayah (i.e. it is an obligation on the entire Muslim community and this communal obligation is discharged when a group of people from within the community do it, but if there is no one doing it in the community then the entire community will be sinful for not discharging the Divine obligation). Pay special attention to this next tradition so that you will attain [a high level of] certitude:
A TRADITION: It is said that among the students and mureeds (disciples who seek spiritual elevation/enlightenment through the attainment of purification of their soul from all evil desires and tendencies under the guidance of a spiritual guide who has in turn completely attained this purification and high station before Allah through training, guidance, and proximity of another spiritual guide) of Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him), was a student and disciple named Hatim Ism (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him who in turn later on became a great spiritual master through the training and guidance of Shaykh Shafeeq). One day Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) said to him:
"O Hatim! For how long have been in my company (spiritual proximity) and have been listening to what I have been saying (teaching)?"
Shaykh Hatim Ism (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) replied: "Thirty Three years!"
Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi asked:
"In that [long] time period, what benefit have you derived from me?"
Shaykh Hatim Ism (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) responded:
"[I have] obtained eight (8) benefits [from you]."
Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) responded:
"Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaeyhe Raji'oon."
"To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return (it's a supplication from Quran that is made at times of loss and grief)."
Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) then said:
"O Hatim! I have spent my lifetime in teaching and training and you have just gained eight benefits from me!"
Shaykh Hatim Ism (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) replied:
"O my teacher! If you asked [me] for the truth then the reality is what I [just] told you. I do not need any more [benefits] and these benefits from knowledge are quite sufficient because I am certain that I will attain salvation [and success] in this life and in the life hereafter through these eight benefits."
Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) asked him:
"All right! Tell me what are those eight benefits?"
BENEFITS NARRATED BY HATIM BIN ISM (RA)
"O my teacher! The first benefit is that I looked at the people of this world and saw that everyone has a beloved. But these beloveds of the people [of the world] are such that some of them (i.e. the beloveds) are with them (i.e. the people) until their illness that brings death, some of them are with them until death, some of them are with them until they reach their graves, and after burial all the lovers return from there. None of their beloveds go with them in their graves to live with them there and to provide their company [in the darkness, solitude, narrowness, and horror of the grave]. I contemplated on this and said to myself that only that is a good beloved who goes with them in the grave and lives with his/her lover, who will provide the company, who will illuminate the grave, who will be a partner on the Day of Judgment and its destinations (stations that one goes through after burial until the Day of Judgment). I saw that the only beloved who has these [good] qualities is my good (pious/righteous) deeds. After this [determination and awareness], I made my good deeds my beloved so that it goes with me in my grave [when I die], will provide me with its company, will become an illuminated candle in my grave, will be my partner in all stages of life hereafter, and never ever separate away from me."
Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) said:
"Bravo O Hatim! You have told a very good thing. Now narrate the second benefit."
"O my teacher! The second benefit is that I glanced at the people of the world and saw that everyone was following after the pleasures and desires from the Nafs (lower self that instructs one to commit evil) and [everyone] is subservient to the desires from the lower self. Upon seeing that, I deliberated on the following holy verse [from Quran]:
'Wa Amma Mun Khafa Maqama Rabbihi Wa Nahun Nafsa 'Anil Hawa Fa Innal Jannata Heyal Mawa.'
'But the one who has stood in fear of his/her Sustainer's Presence, and restrained his/her inner self from the base (low and evil) desires, Paradise will the place of rest [for this person].' (Quran, Chapter 79, Verses 40-41)
I developed the certitude that the Wise Quran is correct and the book of Allah is the truth. Then I established a front against my Nafs (lower self) and became determined to oppose it. I molded it (i.e. my lower self) in such a shape that I did not fulfill any of its desires until it started to find peace [and satisfaction] in the worship of Allah, the Exalted."
Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) responded:
"May Allah, the Exalted, provide His blessings in your good deeds. Now narrate the third benefit."
"O my teacher! The third benefit is that when I glanced at the people I saw that every person, with great pain and hard work, is busy in accumulating the possessions (money, wealth, goods) of this mortal world and is very happy that he/she has a lot of goods and material possessions. But when I contemplated on the following holy verse from the bounteous Quran:
'Ma 'Indakum Yanfadu Wa Ma 'IndAllahi Baaqin.'
'All that is with you is bound to come to an end, whereas all that, which is with Allah is everlasting.' (Quran, Chapter 16, Verse 96)
Then whatever [material possessions] I accumulated in the world, I spent it all in Way of Allah by distributing it among pious indigents and beggars so that it (the material possessions that I distributed in the Way of Allah) will get deposited with Allah, the Exalted, as my trust and will become source of immense good and ransom (i.e. salvation) in the life hereafter."
Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) said:
"O Hatim! May Allah grant you His Compensation (reward for your spending in His Way)! You said a very good thing and have done a very good thing. Now narrate the fourth benefit."
"O my teacher! The fourth benefit is that I looked at the people of the world and saw that some of them think that grandeur and honor belong to the nation or tribe (group) that is big and powerful, that's why they are expressing pride in their tribe (nation or group). Some of them are such that they think that the grandeur is obtained through abundance of wealth, [material] possessions, family and relatives that's why [some] people are expressing their pride in their wealth and children. Some [people] are such that they think that their grandeur and honor is in displaying anger, beating, killing, murder and pillage and they express their pride in that. Some [people] are such that they think that their grandeur is in wasteful spending that's why they consider their wasteful spending a source of honor and express their pride in that. But I deliberated on this verse in which Allah, the Exalted, says:
'Inna Akramakum 'IndAllahi Atqakum.'
'Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the one who is most deeply conscious (i.e. fearful) of Him.' (Quran, Chapter 49, Verse 13)
Therefore this is correct and is the truth and the creations' thoughts are false and wrong conjectures. That's why I adopted Taqwa (pious reverence, consciousness, awe, and fear of Allah) so that I get counted as the one with the highest rank in the sight of Allah, the Exalted."
Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) said:
"O Hatim! May Allah be pleased with you. You have said a very good thing. Now narrate the fifth benefit."
"O my teacher! The fifth benefit is that I looked at the people who were complaining about each other. It was found that they were doing all this because of envy, jealousy, and enmity and the main cause of that is [the desire and competition for] greatness, grandeur, [material] possessions, wealth, and knowledge. I contemplated on the following verse from the Holy Quran in which it's said:
'Nahnu Qasumna Baeynahum Ma'eeshatahum Fil Hayatid Dunya.'
'It is We who distribute their means of livelihood (sustenance) among them in the life of this world.' (Quran, Chapter 43, Verse 32)
Then I thought that Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, has appointed the possessions and ranks since the first beginning [of the creation] and no one has any control [or say] in this matter. Therefore, I did not compete or had jealousy with anyone and remained agreed to Allah's distribution [of worldly bounties] and [His appointed] destiny and got along with the whole world [by giving up all jealousies and enmities against God's creations]."
Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) said:
"O Hatim! You are saying the truth and you are doing the right thing. Now narrate the sixth benefit."
"O my teacher! The sixth benefit is that when I glanced at the people, I saw that every person is having enmity with someone else for some reason. Then I deliberated on the following verse:
'Innash Shaytana Lakum 'Aduwwun Fettakhizuhu 'Aduwwa.'
'Verily, Shaytan (Satan) is your enemy so treat him as your enemy.' (Quran, Chapter 35, Verse 6)
After that, I developed the certitude that Allah's saying is the truth, I should not have any enmity with anyone other than Shaytan (Satan). Since then, I considered Satan as my enemy and did not obey any of his orders. Instead, I developed obedience [of Allah] and followed the commandments of Allah, the Exalted and adopted only His worship and servitude. The correct way is the Sirat al-Mustaqeem (the straight path of guidance in which there is no crookedness) as Allah, the Exalted, has Himself said:
'Alam A'had Ilaeykum Ya Bani Aadama Al La Ta'budush Shaytana Innahu Lakum 'Aduwwum Mubeen Wa Ane'buduni Haza Siratum Mustaqeem.'
'Have I not obtained this promise from you that O you the Children of Adam! Never ever obey the Shaytan (Satan). No doubt, he is your avowed (open) enemy and worship Me alone [because] this is the straight path.' "
Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) said:
"O Hatim! You did a very good thing and said a very good thing. Now narrate the seventh benefit."
"O my teacher! The seventh benefit is that I looked at the people and saw that every person is preoccupied with his/her livelihood and search for sustenance and is involved in an intense effort. In this regards, he/she is not even differentiating between Halal (permissible) and Haram (forbidden) but instead, is getting humiliated with doubtful and Haram (forbidden) earnings. Then I deliberated on the following verse:
'Wa Ma Min Daabbatin Fil Arde Illa 'AlalAllahi Rizquha.'
'And there is no living creature on earth whose sustenance is not the responsibility of Allah.' (Quran, Chapter 11, Verse 6)
Then I developed the certitude that the Wise Quran is the truth and is correct and that I am also among those living creatures [of God] that are present on earth. So thus, I got engaged in the worship of Allah and developed the certitude that He will bring to me [my] sustenance because He has promised [to provide me with] sustenance."
Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) said:
"You did a very good thing and told a very good thing. Now narrate the eighth benefit."
"O my teacher! The eighth benefit is that when I looked at the people I found that every person's reliance [or trust] is on someone or something. Some have trust [or rely] on their [material] possessions, some trust [or rely] on other people. Therefore, I pondered on this holy verse in which Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, says:
'Wa Maey Yatawakkal 'AlalAllahi Fahuwa Hasbuhu.'
'And for everyone who places his/her trust in Allah, He [alone] is enough [for him/her].' (Quran, Chapter 65, Verse 3)
'Wa Huwa Husbi Wa Nai'mal Wakeel.'
'And He is sufficient for me and He is the best Helper.'
[Therefore, I adopted complete reliance on Allah in every matter.]"
When Shaykh Shafeeq Balkhi (May Allah Shower His Mercy upon him) heard these [eight] benefits, he said:
"O Hatim! May Allah grant you His Tawfeeq (i.e. enable you to do righteous deeds and to walk on His Path). You have told [us] very good things. I have seen in Taurat (Torah), Injil (Gospel of Prophet Jesus), Zabur (Psalms), and in the praiseworthy differentiator between right and wrong (i.e. the Holy Quran), that all these books [of God] mention these eight benefits, i.e., all four books in their teachings have told [us] these eight benefits. Whoever acts on these [eight principles] is like as if he/she has acted on all four [holy] books."
My dear beloved son! You [now] know from these traditions that you do not need a lot of knowledge.
Now let's return to our explanation and I will tell you the internal (inward) conditions for the student and seeker on the Path of God.
The fifth condition that is obligatory on the seeker on the Path of Allah, the Exalted, is that he/she should have a Shaykh al-Kamil (the perfected spiritual guide) who guides him/her and removes evil qualities [and morals] from the seeker and replaces them with noble qualities [and morals]. The example of [Shaykh's spiritual] training is just like that of a farmer who when looking after a crop sees the unnecessary grass that emerged, pulls them out of the crop. Likewise, whatever weeds that pop up in the farm, he (i.e. the farmer) uproots them from the crop and throws them away. Then the farmer puts water and fertilizers in the crop so that the crop grows [better] and develops a good quality. Likewise, in every condition, the traveler on the Path of Allah has no cure or solution but to have a Murshid al-Kamil (a true Shaykh or a perfected spiritual guide). Because, Allah, the Exalted, has sent Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to His slaves (human beings) so that he proves to be an illuminated proof (guide) in the Way of Allah and so that he brings people to the Way of Allah, the Exalted. When the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) departed from this world, he appointed his deputies and caliphs in his place so that they become a proof (Daleel) of the Way of Allah, the Exalted, until the Day of Judgment.
Therefore, for the seeker [of God], there should be a perfected spiritual guide (Shaykh al-Kamil) who, for the sake of walking on the Path of Allah, is an illuminated proof as a deputy (spiritual heir) of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).