This is a continuation from part one.
The Seeker (Salik) and the Return Journey
The individual seeker must be astute with a higher understanding of the divinely guided laws (the Shariah). He must develop a sharp watchfulness over his lower base self, inculcating values such as sincerity (ikhlas), insight (basirah), patience (sabr), justice (adl) and so one. He should also be educated in belief (iman) and consciousness of Allah, Exalted and Majestic, (taqwa) which are characteristics of the Prophetic (peace be upon him) along with worship and the remembrance of Allah (Exalted and Majestic) with Ihsan (beauty and perfection). These will lead the seeker to the journey of the contented and conscious self.
The divinely guided laws (Shariah) along with rationality must both be considered as being of value to achieve spiritual transformation. Without rationality or logic one will not be able to interpret the Shariah, and without the Shariah the rationality will not be guided.
The transformation of the heart comes through successive the stages of awareness, each bringing one closer to Allah (Exalted and Majestic). This transformation requires right conduct, and worship (ibadah) for the pleasure and remembrance of Allah (Exalted and Majestic).
We must understand that rationality and the lower self must not be allowed to become the basis for arrogance and haughtiness. Giving in to our lower self will mean we will perhaps never see what is within us of faults and we will be rendered unable to fulfill the covenant with our Lord (Rabb). It is related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that the lower self is the greatest of idols.
The Believers must transform themselves from their lower self to attain the higher understanding of the Reality (al-Haq, Allah), their Lord, which is the true journey of the self. It is from this world that we gain access to and success in the Hereafter. The repulsion and bringing under control of the lower self will lead to the discovery the original self, the soul, which will lead to a character of spiritual steadfastness and the strength of an Allah-conscious person (Muttaqee).
Therefore this potential that is within us is the vehicle for being at one (total submission) with Allah (Exalted and Majestic) in this world and it extends into the Hereafter (akhiraa). When the lower self (nafs) is refined and groomed through practicing the Sunna outwardly and inwardly (by inculcating the characteristics like sincerity mentioned earlier) then it transcends worldly attachment until it becomes the contented self.
The contented self is of the ultimate fruits of faith and it is the provision of the true believers. It is a position of closeness whereby Allah become the friend and guardian (wali) of the one who makes Him the sole object of his worship as Allah says.
The noble Quran in Surah 2 Al Baqarah, (The Heifer), Verse 257 refers to the believers and His friendship/guardianship of them as follows:
“Allah (Exalted and Majestic) is the protecting friend of those who believe. He takes them out of darkness into light. As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false deities. They bring them out of light into darkness. Such are rightful owners of the fire. They will reside therein.”
Obtainable Levels of Knowledge
The individual who transcends his lower self will see the light that is within him/her. He/she will see the soul and know of its permanence and vastness. He/she will swim the oceans of knowledge and fully submit to the Reality who is Allah (Exalted and Majestic).
The Glorious Quran enlightens us in Surah 29 Al-Ankabut (The Spider), Verse 69:
“And those that strive in Our (cause), – We will certainly guide them to Our Paths.”
Allah (Exalted and Majestic) is the Inwardly Hidden (Zahir) and the Outwardly Manifest (Batin). The contended self or soul achieves greater knowledge of Him because its inward and outward are one: hypocrisy of belief and hidden sins fall away.
Allah (Exalted and Majestic) says in the in Surah Al Baqarah (The Heifer), Verse 152:
“Therefore, remember Me always, and I will remember you; and be thankful to Me, and be you not ungrateful.”
This position of awareness, understanding and certainty is through the love of Allah (Exalted and Majestic) only. The truth of certainty (haq-ul-yakin) is the love (mahabbah) by total submission for the sake of Allah (Exalted and Majestic) the Reality who is behind the Cosmos. By Him, from Him, unto Him. It is all about Allah (Exalted and Majestic).
When we return to Him, He returns to us
And this certainty (haq-ul-yakin) is essential if one is to be truly watchful of one’s sins and states and conscious of ones motives and intentions whereby one obtains a report card of the self, for a personal assessment. This is essential for transformation. The stories of the great and pious benefit none as much as those who use them to assess themselves.
Along with monitoring one’s self it is necessary to persist in the stations of certainty which are as follows:
- Istighfaar Asking forgiveness from Allah
- Sabr Patience and to persevere
- Shukr Praising and thanking Allah
- Dua Supplicating to Allah
- Sadaqa Charity for the needy to please Allah
- Tawakul Total reliance on Allah
- Salah the 5 daily prayers for Allah
- Zikr-ullah The remembrance of Allah
- Ar Rida To be happy and satisfied
- Mahabba To love Allah unconditionally and with awe.
Each of the above characteristics or stations is necessary to establish our state and position with Allah and helps us to develop and understand ourselves further. Each characteristic is a light that requires discipline and bring forth submission and true love of our Creator. Like our noble Prophet, it is necessary to persist in these stations as long as we live. Abandoning any of them is contrary to the Sunna and no a sign of spirtuality but a sign of misguidance and transgression.
The Contented Self and the Path of Islam
A hadith Qudsi informs us that the entire universe cannot contain Allah (Exalted and Majestic), but the heart of a true believer can. When Allah (Exalted and Majestic) becomes the Protector of the heart then He does not allow any entity to enter it that will taint or blemish it. When we return to Allah (Exalted and Majestic) in our lives then we will realize fully the truth that He will return to us and we will live forever in the life to come. This is how the great companions (Ashaab) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) lived and this is how the friends of Allah (Exalted and Majestic) (Awliya) live.
The Noble Quran is the final testimony of this message in Surah 10 Yunus, Verse 62:
“Verily the friend’s of Allah do not grieve, nor do they fear”.
The groomed and perfected, contented self is the friend of Allah (Exalted and Majestic) and accepted by Him. This self believes in the oneness of Allah (Exalted and Majestic), is truthful when it proclaims the Shahada (a testament of belief), is thankful and patient, is knowledgeable, is satisfied and accepts the rules of Allah (Exalted and Majestic), it is secured against the fire of hell and is a contented, blissful soul.
Allah (Exalted and Majestic) speaks to this tranquil soul directly as presented in the Quran in Surah 89 (The Dawn), Verse 27-30:
(To the righteous soul will be said) “O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction!
“Come back to thy Lord, – well pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him!
“Enter thou, then, among My true slaves!
“Yea, enter thou My Heaven!”
Therefore it is the heart that when refined becomes the soul and progresses to the contented self, when it can realize the meaning of the Quranic verse that Allah (Exalted and Majestic) is closer to us than our jugular vein.
The Noble Quran presents a beautiful description of Allah’s (Exalted and Majestic) love, affection and the pleasure experienced by this pure soul which is satisfied and tranquil in this world and in the Hereafter.
This is the journey of the righteous seeker who, progresses through stages from the lower nafs to the watchful, witnessing and remembering, heart to the enlightened soul (ruh), and the contented self realizing a closeness to Allah (Exalted and Majestic) that extends from this world to the Hereafter (Akhiraa).
Many books have been written on the quest of finding Allah (Exalted and Majestic) in the world (Dunya) and learned scholars and enlightened beings are in agreement that the Quran al Kareem and the Prophetic (peace be upon him) character are the guide and path that show the perfect way which we call the Sharia. How lacking in understanding are those who think the Sharia is just a collection of rules!
Rather it is the essential provision in the journey of life which must be traversed for a seeker to achieve this goal and purpose.
There should be no misapprehension for a seeker (salik) to search for this path to achieve closeness to Allah (Exalted and Majestic) during his/her lifetime as in the Hereafter it may be too late to fulfill this objective. This level of knowledge is obtainable and the most important priority is to learn and practice the essential knowledge of the way of Islam (Din), which is the Prophetic way and character that develops a heightened and cautious awareness of Allah (Exalted and Majestic).
Allah (Exalted and Majestic) confirms this blessing in the Noble Quran in Surah 5 Al Maidah (The Table Spread), Verse 4:
“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.”
As our Rasul (peace be upon him) was taught by Allah (Exalted and Majestic) through His Great Angel Jibreel (peace be upon him), so must we sit with spiritual, learned masters and companions who teach and instruct us so that we may perfect and practice the Islamic Character which realizes the closeness to Allah (Exalted and Majestic) in our lifetime, Insha-Allah.
Allah (Exalted and Majestic) is our Lord. All Praise belongs to Him. He is the Master of the Day of judgement. May He Forgive, Protect, Sustain and Guide us. May He show us the Straight Path. The Path of the Original, Living, Enlightened Islam. Amen.