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.)

Al-tariqa kullaha adab or al-adab al-tariqa kullaha. It means that all of the tariqa (the path) is adab, good behaviour. That is what we should take care of. Because without adab there is no tariqa.
     The greatest example of adab is the Prophet, peace be upon him, because he told us that he was taught good behaviour by his Lord Himself. We must understand that adab is learned from those who are authorized to teach it. And we must pay very close attention to their teaching. It is important for our lives, especially when we are heading in a particular direction, that is, the direction of our Lord. One of the great Friends of Allah was asked about Sufism and he said, “Sufism is going in one direction.” Not going backwards, forwards, up and down, all at once.  Or, as another holy man said, “Once you have said ‘Allah’ or ‘The One,’you will never say ‘two’ and you will not even think ‘two.’”  Of course, it is not easy to say “One” and never to say “two” again. It may not be easy to continue to go in one direction once you started but it must be learned. That is the purpose of the spiritual path. You must go straight. That is the meaning of Sufism.

In order to be able to do this, we must listen to those who are qualified and authorized to guide us. The meaning of adab is to act in such a way that we will walk straight. And not to act in a way which will prevent us from walking on that path which takes us to the One. Who is qualified? First of all, the one, namely the Prophet,. peace be upon him,  who said, “Adabani rabbi,” “my Lord taught me good behaviour.” And second,  those who have learned adab from him. Those are the teachers.
Allah has given us examples through which we may understand what good behaviour is. One example, the clearest and most striking one in the Qur’an is about Sayyidina Adam and the Angels. You know what happened. We will listen to it in order to learn about adab. It is not just an interesting story and description. It is given to us so that we, the descendants of Adam, all human beings, learn from this incident.
What happened? Allah asked the angels to make sajda (to prostrate), to show their respect to that new creature which was just created. He said “Prostrate!” The Angels hesitated and said, “How can you ask us to pay respect to someone who will bring bloodshed and corruption to the earth? Why should we do this?” One of them even refused to make sajda.  The others quickly caught up with themselves and said: “We are sorry! We only know what You taught us. We will now make sajda,” while that one said: “No!”  That was their behaviour.  This was the way they behaved when ordered by their Lord.
Why did they act in this way? It is very important to know that everyone worships Allah according to his capacity. Each creature, human beings included, worships Allah according to his or her ‘make.’ Each one has a different way towards Him. This way is not a matter of our choice. We cannot decide, “I want to worship in a particular way and not in another way.” You will worship Him in the way you are made, in the way you are, not in the way you want.  Each creature, each person is a particular way of worshipping the Lord of the Universes. There is no creature that does not worship Him because all creatures are only in existence for this purpose.  Even those who say, “We don’t believe, we don’t worship,”  worship Him in a particular way. All of creation was created to worship Him, but each obeys in his or her own way.
The difference between the creatures is due to the fact that each one is the appearance of a Divine Name, or of a particular mixture of Divine Names. And it is through these Names that they worship. The character of worship is required by those Names. It is not a matter of will, or of a lack of will.
So when the Angels asked “How can You make such a creature Your khalifa, Your representative on earth and he will do such terrible things?”  Was this a sign of bad adab? Were they wrong? Let’s look at ourselves, look at mankind. Their knowledge was correct. What they saw was the history of mankind in most of its aspects. Was it wrong? No, they recognized man. They recognized man according to their capacity, according to their ‘make.’

If it is not wrong, then why was it bad adab? This is the point where it becomes a lesson, a lesson for all of mankind. The bad behaviour consists precisely in judging on the ground of one’s own ‘make.’ As long as we do not know ourselves, we are always judging others on the grounds of what we do know, but not on the grounds of what we do not know. We do not even know what we are doing. We do not know that we are restricted, that there is as much of what we don’t know as there is of what we do know. What we see when we look at someone or something is always in the shape of our own making. It is according to my capacity. Knowledge is always restricted as long as I am seeing through my own frame. And in a way, it is therefore not knowledge. There is too much in the dark. The Angels are made from certain Divine Names. But Sayyiduna Adam comprises all of the Divine Names in him and this the Angels did not know. In order to see this, they would have to go beyond themselves. But they cannot. In what does the Divine Teaching consist? What is the adab of Allah that we are taught here?

Let us think about ourselves, the way we look at each other, the way we look at things and people. We do not speak about people who judge others on the grounds of ignorance. No. That is happening all the time. That is, of course, bad behaviour, but we are trying to point to something else.
There are two warnings contained here: Do not judge someone if you don’t know, if your knowledge is only partial. That is not difficult to understand. But the other warning is more unusual, and it is the main point of this story:  Do not judge someone on the grounds of what you know.  Do not judge someone, even if your knowledge of his or her actions is correct. And do not base anything on this correct knowledge of yours because you are not aware of how much you don’t know. Never be proud about being correct.

One of the elements of the Angels is the element of hesitation, or, in the case of the chief jinn, the element of contradiction. Although their whole existence consists only in praising their Lord, it takes not more than the appearance of another creature next or above them and they contradict their Lord. They did not know of the existence of this element in them. In the same way, we have to understand that our knowledge is restricted. Don’t say “I see you truly as you are and you are this or that.” Even if this is correct knowledge, it is bad adab. We should not make any claims. Especially, if we intend to follow tariqa. The one who lives from claims is our nafs, our ego. In fact, it is nothing but claims. Even its existence is a mere claim. But, as Mawlana informed us: The more you claim, the more falls on you. It is like a piece of ground. The bigger it is, the more snow will fall on it. The smaller you are, the less problems will come on you.

Anyone who says “I am following tariqa, my way is towards the One,” must know that tariqa is all adab. And he or she must ask: What is asked from us?

Who in this world has adab? Look around you. Our lives are based on judging people and events. But Allah teaches us, through the example of his Angels, that such behaviour goes against divine orders.

Some time ago we heard from one of the sheikhs that we should not stop at people and lose ourselves judging them but look at what comes through them from our Guides of the Path. It seems to be very difficult to act according to this advice. For a short while we may try, but quickly the old habits return. We look at each other and judge each other. And what is really important in someone and in his or her actions escapes us. At the same time we are so proud about ourselves. That is the greatest ignorance.

We are created to worship Allah. Not to worship each other and not to worship ourselves. We are not created for ourselves and not for each other, and we must learn to live accordingly, even if it takes a lot of discipline. Because if we don’t practice this adab, then whatever we do or refrain from doing is blocking the worship of the One for whose worship we were made. That is why one act of good adab is more important than a thousand acts of worship. Once we enter upon this path of bad behaviour, of worship without adab, we don’t have the strength to stop ourselves. The Angels did what they were. They didn’t invent anything about Adam. And yet Allah punishes them. He does not tolerate anyone in His Presence with such bad behaviour.

A Sufi, a traveller on a spiritual path, has responsibilities which a common person does not have. This is what our Sheikh taught us: If you say you are a Sufi, you have obligations. And these are stricter and greater than the obligations of common people. You must have adab. Do not make claims. Even if your Sheikh has said something to you and you know exactly and correctly  what he said, it is still not good adab to base any claims on such knowledge and oblige others to you.

As difficult as it may be, we must try to act correctly. And, as Mawlana once said concerning istiqama‘It is not enough to be as correct as possible. You must be a hundred percent correct’. Al-tariqa kullaha adab.. Either we take it seriously or not. If we take it seriously, we must act accordingly. Let us base our actions neither on our ignorance nor on our presumed knowledge, but try to obey our Lord and His Beloved Prophet, peace be upon him,  and those who are ulu-l amri minkum (those who have been given authority).

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

Bi hurmati l-Habibi, bi hurmatil Fatiha.