The Levant Exclusive – By Khaled Mohammed Abdou* –
The Sufi: The traveller in the way of love
To be human first and before anything, to realise the meaning of “within you the big world exists”. To remember that no matter how high or low, awake or heedless, forgetful or remembering you are, you are only alive by God.
There are no obstacles or limits made from before, and you have to go in a way that is predestined for you.
You are trying, you are thinking, you are striving with yourself as much as you can to live and restore yourself.
Your lord had said in the book: “He increases in creation what He wants” and He said: “I am where my worshipper thinks of me” ….I don’t wait for my worshipper to make a mistake or err so that I can throw him in a pit because of a sentence or a word or a letter, but I judge them according to what their hearts intended and what they give with certainty. If good I give good, if bad then bad.
“And your lord is most forgiving, owner of mercy” Quran 18:58
It was said in the old days that Tasawwuf is the dwelling of the self with God according to what He wants. And it was someone’s supplication:
My God… make the eye of my heart insightful, and lead me to the path of certainty
Open with mercy the treasures of your generosity on me
And invite my heart to a field of hope
Give me a heart filled with gratitude
And a tongue that is far from complimenting other than you
Occupy my thinking with thanking you in times of ease
and increase my praising in times of hardship
Lead the chariot of my hope to where the door of success lies
And since You raised me in this life from dust, do not submit me in the Hereafter to the typhoon of destruction
Cover me in Your pardon until I become pure
And revive me from Your essence so that I don’t die
As what I am carrying is not a beating heart. It’s inanimate and in hiding and it is You who revive the dead
May you illuminate this dusty shrine with the enlightened mind and pure intellect
This hope that I hang on in this life is only a waste for it in heedlessness, so do not leave me sleeping in my heedlessness more than this, for ahead of me exists another sleep, and I err in my book of deeds for the flourishing of my days.
Then, when the decoration of this tapestry is done, write it with you in the scroll of the freed from hell.
And do not question me about my account, which is not worthy of correcting, because it is not even worthy of questioning
Let your generosity be the guard of my trading, and your care the guidance of my deeds
And rejuvenate my hope in your pardon
And make my hope in You exceed all limits.
The Sufi searches for a heart that beats with life; he requests to be guided to ascension every moment in which he can renew his connection with God.
God becomes his sole friend and provider of his food and drink. He doesn’t search for treasure of money or material things, but asks for the opening of the treasure of mercy so that it descends on the worshippers. He doesn’t want to see anything except God, and in everything beautiful he sees God’s image and manifestations. He wants to get rid of the fake dust of his ego which is preventing him from living.
He asks for pardon even though his feet are swollen in prayers, asking for the highest light even when he is present with the Lord.
The Sufi believes that his heart is a lump of flesh that is forming every moment and that life is renewed in it by God, and as much as the heart is clear, so is life. And as the heart becomes pure his prayers become accepted and certain.
The Sufi is not occupied with the outward image – even though the outside becomes beautiful from within he doesn’t occupy himself much with the purity of water or place since the whole world is pure from Him and By Him.
The seven types of water are known to him but he is not only occupied by the outer rules of purification, how correctly the Quran is pronounced and the dealings as mentioned in the book and tradition, for his biggest concern is to strive in seeking the truth and finding it. And he contributes in it and becomes part of it, and then becomes a manifestation of it.
The Sufi drops the duties not in accordance with his rivals perception of him but because he does everything with consistent love and passion. So he believes that there are no formalities in worship, but only joy that is felt by the one who does it with a passionate heart, those who are God’s distinctive people.
So if the common people like us find a struggle in performing the acts of worship, they pray in weariness, and feel bored if it’s prolonged, and the same with fasting and other acts of worship, the ones who tasted the sweetness of closeness and connection finds no formality in talking to the most beloved, as everything they do has a pleasure and delight that is only felt by the one who performs it with a heart that is ignited with God’s love.
To be a Sufi is to not want from God but Himself.
It was mentioned that one day a woman was running whilst carrying fire in her right hand and water in the other, when she was asked “where are you going? And what do you wish for?” She said: I am going to heaven! To throw the fire in heaven and to pour water in hell, so that they both come to an end and the intended would appear!
Thus, the worshippers look to God without hope or fear and worship Him in this way. For if there was hope in heaven and fear from hell, would they have worshipped the Truth and obeyed Him?
To be a Sufi, you are a disbeliever in all idols, not the idols that Ibrahim destroyed in the past, or Muhammad Peace be upon him, but the idols that are renewed every day, and are set up in streets and squares and mosques and houses of knowledge and vast halls of Media.
You shouldn’t be deceived by pictures or words, for you are not a worshipper of any but God, image is nothing but illusion and imagination, even if it is of a virtuous human. The Sheikh or the Guide of the way is like a bridge that enables you to cross then you may see behind it what he might not have seen.
To be a Sufi is not to be deceived by anyone. Previously someone said: “amongst all the dervishes there is an honest one, search for him well and you will find him.”
The Sufi believes that the devil which lies inside him is the one that needs disciplining and correction, he doesn’t throw the consequences of his doings on the invisible devil , that which can go away by words of seeking refuge… this ego is the opposite of the heavenly consort that accompanies the seeker in the journeys of his realisation.
Someone had said regarding this devil that never stops moving and working: Inside me is a devil that is not hidden from me. Cutting off his head is not an easy matter! I taught him faith a thousand times but it didn’t enter Islam.
This devil is me as long as I live, every time I make a mistake and repent, then mistake and correct myself…then strive with myself day and night until I die to get rid of all bad manners and substitute it with good manners as much as I can…there is no going back as no one can guarantee himself or be secure from its cunning.
Therefore in a form of supplication that the honourable prophet pbuh made (which is called the master of seeking forgiveness) he says: And I am on your covenant and promise as much as I am able to. But who is able to do what he was able to do?
To be a Sufi, you are circling to see, and you are not hiding yourself in a silo away from the world around you, nor do you disclaim any experience that was a cause of your current form, as all that you gave to yourself from good and bad is You that you see now. So if you have left praying, fasting or committed sins one day, you have to remind yourself of this if your ego told you to despise the people of sins and disobedience! As one day you were there yourself, and remind it by saying: If you were tested one day with the selling of wine or drugs, this spacious earth would have narrowed on you, in fear of losing your headship not out of fear of God the exalted, and the proof of this is our indulgence in uglier sins than this without being equally disturbed!
And remember that there are people amongst the pious who saw many advantages to the sinners, for instance: If the sinners didn’t carry this dirt that descended on the creation, it could have been you who committed them according to the law of contrasts, as there must be doers for sins!
A wise scholar called Afdal-Addeen -May God’s Mercy be upon him-relates this : I am so embarrassed and shy from my neighbour, because he is submerging in adultery and drinking wine and drugs day and night, so I imagine always that he is carrying this from me because of my filthy status and mean reality!
Al-sha’rani – the known scholar- narrated from Sayed Ali AlKhawas his saying: The worshipper steps into the way of discipline are not fit until he sees himself below earths!
Tassawuf is to see ourselves below everyone we are sitting with, even if we see that this person is reaching the limit of decadence, we see ourselves more decadent then him. And if anyone is suspecting this, he should display to himself the characteristics of impiety that he has done all his life, and compare it with that which appeared from this person, and if he really found his bad deeds more than the former than he is more of a sinner than him, but it is because God is Discreet and He doesn’t expose – but little -to us the defaults of His servants and the rest He veils from us, and what is veiled has no ruling, and it is not permissible for us to throw someone with obscenity interiorly either according to what we have fallen into and was veiled by God from people.
Tasawwuf is a feeling rather than a creed…hence; it is non-sense to ask someone to bring you a proof of his feeling! And it is a waste of time for a Sufi to find a proof of his state. To be a Sufi is to be absent from everything that buries the human, and to not be occupied by answering the one who disagrees with you lest you go astray from your destination without you knowing, and fall into what he had fallen into.
It is from the commandments of Sayyid Ali AlKhawas (may God be pleased with him): If an arguer came to you, do not try to convince him with silencing answers, but rather, give him charity by your silence! As silence stops the fire of the ego, whilst arguments agitates it.
To be a Sufi…means that your status and talks become a balsam that heals what’s in the chests of people, and a shining light, translating the letters in silence with deeds rather than fiery words.
There was a sheikh that taught his disciples the knowledge of creed, the meaning of la ilaha illa Allah (There is no God but Allah), he used to explain it to them daily, and to discipline them with it just like the noble prophet peace be upon him did. And one day one of his students brought him a parrot as a gift, as the sheikhs loved raising cats and birds, and with time the sheikh really loved the parrot and took it with him to his lessons, until the parrot learned how to say ‘la ilaha illa Allah’, and repeated it day and night. One day the students found their teacher crying and weeping, and when they asked him about the reason he said: the cat killed the parrot! So the students asked: Is it for this reason you cry? If you want we can get you a better parrot, where the sheikh replied: I am not crying for this reason, but because when the cat attacked the parrot it went on screaming and screaming until it died, and although the parrot used to say ‘la ilaha illa Allah’ allot, it was with its tongue only, it did not feel it nor did the words enter its heart! I fear that we could be like this parrot, where we live our lives repeating ‘la ilaha illa Allah’ with our tongues, and when death comes we might not be able to remember it because our hearts were not sincere when we said it!
To be a Sufi… your believe becomes: If you smelled the scent of love in a place, then you will find God therein
To be a Sufi, is for your supplications to be: Do not return me to myself after you took me from it.
To be a Sufi …you are not carried by any earth and nor shadowed by any sky.
To be a Sufi, is to forget everything I have written in here …
Khaled Mohammed Abdou is an Egyptian writer and researcher who specialized in Sufism and Islamic studies.