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.)

The purpose of any religion and of any spiritual path is to help people to become peaceful.

To become peaceful, to reach peace in this life. To reach peace within themselves firstly and then with others is the purpose of religious life and of any spiritual path. Everyone is looking for that. Everyone who is pursuing anything in this life, who wants anything, who desires anything, they only want to reach peace. They may call it happiness but it is the same.

Usually, we don’t understand what happiness consists in. We think that happiness consists in getting what we want. “I want something, I run after it, and if I have it I am happy.” But that is not true. If you look carefully at how it really is (because everyone can know, everyone has made so many attempts in their lives to reach happiness), you will see that happiness does not consist in getting what you want. Happiness consists in not having to run anymore.

To have what you wanted is no guarantee for not having to run anymore. If this were the case, then we would have been happy a long time ago, and we would also stay happy, but we don’t. Why not? Have we never reached what we wanted to reach? Of course, we have. We may later say it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it. But that is another story. When you got what you wanted, why weren’t you happy? Or if you were really happy, what was it that made you happy? It is not the thing you wanted that made you happy. To think so is a common error. We don’t know how to be happy because we misplace our happiness in the thing we wanted. That is ignorance and foolishness. If we looked carefully, we would see that what makes us happy is that little moment where we don’t want anymore. Then, at least for one moment, we are at peace. Nothing disturbs us, no ghosts are chasing us, no desires, nothing. If the only way to reach peace in this life were to reach the thing one wants, then all of us would be happy once and for all. But we don’t understand where happiness lies. If we understood, we would stop running because we would know its place and what it consists in.

So we must ask. We must ask those who know: Where does peace lie? What does it consist of? How can we reach it? We must ask those who know. They are, firstly, Allah himself, and secondly, His Beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and thirdly those who inherited his knowledge. We must ask them: “Can you tell us please, where and how we can reach peace?” They will not withhold advice. They are ready, waiting to be asked.

One of them, Abu Sa‘id Abu-l Khayr, one of the great friends of Allah, said: “If you are looking for peace amongst creatures, you will find quarreling. And your quarrelling will not stop.” Don’t think that you will be able to reach peace through yourselves. Why do you look for it in that direction? If you want to quarrel, then look in that direction, look at each other and you will find it. Yet nobody wants to quarrel. They are all saying, “We don’t want it,” but they are looking for it. How strange! What strange beings we are! There must be something wrong. We are saying one thing and look for its opposite. We are looking this way and walk that way. How come? Are there two inside us? Maybe there are two inside us, or we are two, not one with ourselves. Even with ourselves we are quarrelling. One of us says, “I am looking for peace and happiness,” and the other one looks for trouble. Then we find ourselves somewhere between those two and say, “I don’t understand, I’m looking for peace and all I find is trouble. How come?” Because we are ignorant ones. And not only ignorant, but also unwilling to listen. We don’t like to pay attention to those who know and can give advice. We say, “I am looking for advice,” but when someone gives advice, we don’t listen. We argue instead, saying “Why did you say that? I don’t agree.”

So Abu Sa‘id said: If you are looking for peace and you are looking at people like yourselves, you will have a very long quarrel ahead of you. Now we all are familiar with what happened to Sidi Ahmed al-Badawi in his search. We are all a little bit like Sidi Ahmad al-Badawi, not accepting help when help comes, wanting always to do everything by ourselves. When that Qutb (the Pole of his age) met Sidi Ahmad al-Badawi, saying “I have your key, the key for your happiness, take it from me!” And Sidi Ahmad said, “I’m not going to take it from you, only from Allah Himself.” So the Qutb answered: “Good. If you are not taking it from me, let’s leave it.” And he left him. And everything left him with that Qutb. Everything he had ever learned went away until he did not even know Surat al-Fatiha (the Opening Verse). So these people say, “You don’t have to take our advice. If you don’t want it, leave it. It will only take you a longer time and some more hardships to learn, to understand, to listen.” Everyone has his or her time to come around. Some take little time, some a long time, because they are very stubborn. Every heart has its time until it is soft, its time for softening. A hard heart does not return to its Creator. Only soft hearts return to their Lord. Because when we are born, we are born with soft hearts. Then, when we grow up our hearts grow hard. Some more, some less. But no heart returns different from the way it was made. If you are not making your heart soft in this life, then Allah will make it soft.

We are told: If you want peace and you don’t want to quarrel within yourselves and with others, don’t look in  the direction of others. And don’t even expect anything from them. If you expect peace from them and don’t get it, don’t complain. If you look at each other, it would be better, more sincere, to say “I don’t expect any peace from you, I like to fight, I want to quarrel, I like to argue.” That may not be nice, but at least we would not pretend that we are looking for peace. So, if we can’t find peace from each other, from where does it come? Do you think it falls from the sky, or comes from underground? Quarrelling comes from ourselves, but peace must come from the One who is peaceful. Allah tells us, “If you are really friendly with each other, it is because of Our gift. We give you peace. So ask it from us. Look in Our direction when looking for it.” Islam is the religion of truth, not of lies or illusions. It does not tell people that by themselves they are friendly. It says “You may pretend to be nice to each other,” or you may prefer that it looks this way. But it is not true. So look for what is true. That is better for you, even if it does not fit your illusions.

From ourselves, nothing good comes. If we are left to ourselves, we are enemies to each other. If there is any goodness amongst us, any friendliness, any kindness, it is not from ourselves but from our Lord. If we knew this, we would be grateful to Him. We would admit that there is someone who sends us these things, someone who gives peace, who gives rest, who gives, who gives us happiness. Don’t say, “That is Sufi talk, that is religious talk.”  It is the truth. Very simple. But for many people it is not convenient to admit this, because there is that other one in us who says, “Listen! Go for it! Go and shout, go and fight, and kill!” Then you are in-between these voices, as usual.

You must understand the name Al-Salam (Peace). I am not called Al-Salam, no one here is. There is only One whose Name this is, and it is from Him that peace must come, not from anyone else. You may say, “Yes, I understand about al-Salam, I will look into it, tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will look into Allah’s direction for peace, but today I am going to finish my quarrel. I am going to give back to them what they gave to me, and when I am finished with them. I will look for Allah. Tomorrow, I will be peaceful. I will say, ‘O You who are the peaceful one, give me peace.’” But there is no tomorrow. That is only an idea for our minds, an invention. There is only now. And you must intend for now. If you look for peace, look for it now! If you say, “I am too weak to reach peace now by myself,” that is true. We are all too weak to reach peace by ourselves, at any time.

Chinese people, who have very ancient wisdom, say that the worst thing that can happen to a human being is to die an untimely death. What is an untimely death? Does it mean that when you are only 25 and you have to die, that is untimely? No, untimely means something else. Everyone has his or her appointed time and that time is the right time, if they like it or not. That is not meant by dying an untimely death. It means: anytime, whatever the time is, when you have to die, and you are not ready. That is untimely. And a timely death, that is the best thing that can happen to a human being. So that, whenever the angel of death comes, he comes in time. Because one is ready. But we cannot be ready without having made ready, without preparation. When are you going to get ready? Tomorrow? Do you know your time, so you know that you have still time left? You must prepare yourself now, so you are ready to go to your Lord and be with Him, now. Not later. To prepare for being with Him means to turn towards Him in every respect.

Now, we are turning to Him for peace. We don’t say, “I still have some unfinished business here.” Maybe, you will never finish your business. Maybe, there will be no time to turn towards Him. No time for peace.

He is the One. And because He is the One, there is no conflict in Him or with Him. There is no opposition against the One, no quarrel. You can only oppose yourselves. Mawlana Sheikh Nazim, our master and guide, says very simple things very clearly. They are so simple and clear that we cannot hear them, if we are not simple and clear ourselves. He once said, “What does it mean to be a Muslim? A Muslim is someone who has promised his Lord never again to quarrel with Him.”  He says, “If I quarrel with You once, at that moment I stop being a Muslim. I am not submitting myself to Your Will.”  And, therefore, I am not in peace and not at rest.

That is a promise. And as with all promises., we must ask for strength to keep them. Don’t say, “I know myself, I am so weak, I am not promising anything.” If you are a Muslim, you may be weak, but you promise. If you are saying “La ilaha ill-Allah,” what do you mean? Abu Sa‘id Abu-l Khayr said: When you are saying these words, you say “I promise not to quarrel with You.” You give baya’ (swear allegiance) to your Lord, swearing allegiance to Him, promising never to oppose Him.

La ilaha ill-Allah, I am connected to You. If you think you are too weak, ask Him for His support. Or ask meded from those who are helpers. But you must promise. For the promise is the only way to reach what everyone wants to reach. To reach peace, to be at peace and at rest with yourselves. 

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

Bi hurmati l-Habibi, bi hurmatil Fatiha.