Lost & Found





Bismillahi rahmani r-rahim
(In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Munificent)

La hawla wa la quwatta illa billah il aliyy il adhim
(There is no strength and no power save that of Allah, Most High, and Majestic)

Rabbi yassir, wa la ta’ssir.  Rabbi tamim bi-l khayr.
(O Lord, make it easy, and do not make it difficult.  O Lord, make it end well.)

We have been told that the tariqa (the path) is built on three principles: muraaqaba (conscious awareness), sohba (association) and dhikr (remembrance). In earlier periods of the tariqa these three things were done separately but the people of our times are not strong enough to carry those three things the way they were done then. The sheikhs decided to put it all together and to make everything shorter.

All of these things we do are imitations of certain powers. Muraaqaba is an imitation of the power of Allah. Sohba, is in imitation of the power of the Prophet, which is advice, or nasiha (ad-dinu nasiha). We should meet as much as possible for such a purpose. This is a benefit for anyone, to meet for the sake of Allah. This is one of the most beneficial things in this life, to meet for the sake of our Lord. Most of common people’s meetings are for this world and the affairs of this world but this is not truly of benefit. Truly beneficial is only the meeting in which we remember our Lord, to ask for closeness and to ask for blessing. That is the main purpose.

The other purpose, as I said before, is in imitation of the principle given by the Prophet, advice. The whole religion is advice. As Mawlana Sheikh Nazim says,  it is obligatory to seek and to listen for advice and to meet and ask from each other advice, especially for believers. We are not claiming that we are so knowledgable or capable of giving advice as if we had some gift within ourselves that would make us qualified for that. The important thing about advice is to hear it. One should be careful about this point, because we, by ourselves, are not capable of giving advice. Who are we? What is it that would qualify the speaker or anyone else here to give advice? From where? Are we such knowledgable people? No. If we claim anything then that is a sign of ignorance. What we are doing here is a way of fulfilling the obligation of asking advice and giving advice to believers, if there is permission.  If we ourselves are allowed to speak from those sources who are able to give advice. Those sources in Islam, are firstly the Qur’an and then the explanatons of the Qur’an by Allah’s Beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and thirdly, the words from the inheritors of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Those inheritors who follow the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, most perfectly inside and outside. The name which is used for them is awliya Allah, friends of Allah. These are the inheritors of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. They are qualified to give advice and we must seek advice from them.

If we are sitting here then what are we doing? We are sitting here because it is an obligation, because it is a task which our spiritual masters have told us to do. All we are trying to do is to obey this command. We may not be strong or capable enough to fulfil this order and in this case we must ask for their forgiveness. As it is not in our hand to make sohba or make dhikr, it is also not in our hand to refrain from doing so. If we are speaking on the level of Realities, then it is not in our hands to do something like this or to leave it. It is in the hands of those in whose hands everything is. You must know this to understand the situation of why we are sitting here, for which purpose and with which intention. We are here to receive advice, not to display knowledge. For advice to be of benefit it must be usable for the believer and for his life. If we are speaking about advice we are intending to speak about things that are useful for the purpose of coming closer to Allah. Anything which helps us to reach this aim is useful. If it prevents us from this goal then it is useless no matter how splendid it is. The worst thing is not ignorance but knowledge which is useless, like that of most of our scholars now. That knowledge is useless which does not allow a believer to reach his goal. Advice is anything which contributes to us getting closer to our destination, Divine Presence. That is advice.

Now, we are intending to read from some of the great friends of Allah so that we can take some benefit, for now, for reaching our goal. Everyone may listen according to his capacity and requirements and take from it what is beneficial for them because these words are addressed to everyone who believes and maybe even to non-believers.

This is from Sheikh al-Arabi al-Darqawi, a great Shadhili master and inheritor of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.  “One of our brothers said to me: ‘I am nothing.’ I answered,‘Do not say I am nothing’; neither say: ‘I am something.’ Do not say: ‘I need such and such a thing’; nor yet: ‘I need nothing.’ But say: ‘Allah, and you will see marvels.’”

This points to an important question. Usually we are always starting from ourselves, “I don’t have this or that,” and “What should I do?” Or, “Should I not do this?”  Don’t look at yourselves, look toward your Lord, say “Allah.” You must turn from this to the right direction which is the face of your Lord, which is Allah. Remember Him. Don’t spend your time looking at yourselves and others, because you will never finish with yourselves. And then you will not be able to run into the right direction. It is not unusual that we begin with ourselves. Everyone does. Otherwise, why should they ask for advice. So it is common and normal but it does not mean we should stay there. The purpose of entering a spiritual path is not to stay with yourselves. And it may happen that even after four, five, six years we are still with ourselves. If the murids are not very clever they say, “I am in tariqa, I have been in the tariqa for so many years and I am not growing.” The clever ones say, “I am nothing.”  But it is better not to say anything. Don’t say I am this or that, say “Allah.”   Look into His direction.

Everyone comes into the path with a certain heart condition.  They come to the Sheikh saying, “I have a heart condition.”  They say, “Can you do anything about it?” Yes, he is a doctor of hearts, so they are all coming with their heart conditions. Some are coming with broken hearts,  some with scratched hearts, some with hard hearts, some with hearts like stone. Don’t misunderstand,  it is not only the people in the hospitals who have heart conditions. All human beings have heart conditions, and it gets worse until the end of their lives. When it gets really bad, they die.

But as for us, why are we sitting here. Are we so splendid that we have no heart conditions? No, we all are in this condition. What kind of advice can we get for the condition we are in? The sheikh is advising us:
“The sickness which is afflicting your heart is one of those things which strikes men whom Allah loves...”

If you have a heart condition, don’t ask “why do I have this?” This is coming from Allah’s love — “...for ‘of all men the most sorely tried are the Prophets, after them the saints, then those who resemble them, closely or remotely.’  So do not be downcast, since this happens most often to men full of sincerity and love, to cause them to go forward towards their Lord.”

They are given that condition to make them move. They are given that pain to move them towards Allah. “By this suffering their hearts are purified and transformed into pure substance. Lacking such encounters with reality, nobody would reach the knowledge of God, far from it, for ‘If there were no arenas for souls, the runners would not be able to run their course,’ as it is said in Ibn ’Ata’illah’s Hikam.

Without these heart conditions no one would reach their goal.

He also says: “In the variety of signs and changing states I came to recognize Thine intention in regard to me, that of showing me all things, so that there might be nothing in which I would not know Thee.”

We are put in the best and in the worst conditions so that there is no condition in which we do not see Him. He is putting us in every situation. Our liking or not liking is our affair, not His. His purpose is that we recognize Him in these conditions. If we are believers, then we must know only for the purpose of recognizing Him. Don’t ask, “Why me?”  Because Allah is sending you this from his Love. Allah is saying, “I sent it to you so you would recognize Me.” We often only recognize Him in good things. Everything good and bad is coming from Him in order to recognize Him, to see where He is. “In the same sense, the initiates have said: ‘It is in times of upheaval that men stand out from amongst men.’ In the Qur’an it is said: Do the people then reckon that they will be left in peace because they say ‘we believe,’ and that they will not be tried? (XXIX,1).”

“Hear also what has been related about the attitude of those who know God: when our Lord ’Umar ibn ’Abdel Aziz (may God be well pleased with him) was asked: ‘What do you wish?’ he answered: ‘Whatever God decides.’.... And the renowned Master Ibn ’Ata’illah says in his Hikam: ‘May the pain of trial be lightened for you by your knowledge that it is He, be He exalted, who is trying you.’ There is no doubt that, for men of God, their best moment is the moment of distress, for this is what fosters their growth. He also says in his Hikam: ‘The best of your moments is that in which you are aware of your distress and thrown back upon your own helplessness....’ ”

There is no doubt that for men of God the best moment is the moment of distress. When there is no recourse to yourself. When we find ourselves helpless, that is the best moment, if you understand. It may be in distress you will find benefits that you have been unable to find either in prayer or in fasting.

These are situations where you have greater chances to recognize your Lord. Don’t say, “I don’t want this, it is very unpleasant.” Distress (faqah) is nothing but intensity of need. Now our Master’s Master, al-’Arabi Ibn ’Abd-Allah, called distress ‘incitement,’ because it incites him who is afflicted to move forward on the way towards his Lord. And our own Master (may God be well please with him) said: ‘If people knew how many secrets and benefits are to be found in need, they would have no other need than to be in need.’ And he said likewise that distress takes the place of the Supreme Name (of God). On the other hand, he considered power to be a limitation.

From another point of view, we observe that the knowledge of God turns trials aside from us, as it did for the Prophets (on them be prayer and peace) and the Saints. God, be He exalted, says in the Qur’an: We said to the fire: O fire, be coolness and protection for Abraham. They set a trap for him, but we made them the loser and saved him (XXI, 69-71). God also said: And it is said to those who fear (God): what did God bring down? They answer: that, which is good (XVI, 30);  and this in spite of the fact that God ‘brings down’ the great trials on them alone, out of love for them and attention to them, as it is said in the glorious Qur’an: How many Prophets had fighting beside them numbers of men of the Lord, men who did not falter for the hardships they suffered in the way of God (III,145), and again: If ye have received a wound, be sure that the people received just such a wound (before you). (III,140). And so forth. However, their knowledge of God and their absorption in contemplating the infinity of His essence makes them indifferent to good and evil; their look is turned only upon their Lord; just as they see Him in rejoicing, so do they see Him in grief, since He is at the same time the cause of rejoicing (al-Mun’im) and of punishment (al-Muntaqim); or it might be said; just as they contemplate Him in the gift, so do they contemplate him in privation. As the Illustrious Master Ibn ’Ata’illah says in his Hikam: ‘When He gives, He causes you to contemplate His kindness and when He withholds He shows you His victorious power (qahr); He it is throughout who makes Himself known to you and who, in His mercy (lutf), comes closer to you.’  In a word, for such men God is qualified at once by terrible majesty (jalal) and by kindness (jamal);”

Allah gives in two ways, through giving and withholding. If we are veiled we don’t recognize it when something is withheld. We are the greatest veil in front Him. Everything is a gift. That is the meaning of oneness, making no distinction.

“as for trials they know nothing of them, nor do trials know them, since they strike only those who are under the veil and not those for whom the veil has been drawn back; for the cause of trial is the existence of the veil and perfection of enjoyment is nothing but the sight of the Face of God, the All-Generous. All grief and sorrow that hearts experience comes only from being cut off from the essential vision....

All grief and sorrow comes only from being cut off from the Face of Allah. It is not the events of our lives that give us grief and despair but it is only one thing: to be cut off from the Face of Allah.

We are all sitting here, coming from somewhere and everyone is going back to their particular situations and we are saying, “Where is the Face of Allah?” Where is the connection? If we were not connected, we would not be able to sit here. If He would stop this connection, then we would stop existing. The connection has not been cut from His side. The connection is never cut. Common people think that because someone commits sins he is lost. No one drifts so far that he is lost. For the awliya (friends of Allah) no soul is lost or can go so far that it is lost. They will pull them back. The only thing that gives us the illusion that we are cut off is ourselves. Right now we are in connection. We are not aware of it. If we were not in connection we could not hear, see or work. We are saying rabita, it exists there already. When we are asking for rabita (connection) we are asking for a removal of the veil which covers this connection. That is all. 

Wa min Allah at-tawfiq
(And from Allah comes success)

Bi hurmati l-Habibi, bi hurmatil Fatiha.