Monday, October 31, 2011

Vision of the Heart: Stages of Spiritual Progress

In his Friday Sermon of October 28, 2011 the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib of Mauritius reflected on the profound meaning of a Qur’anic verse relating to the ultimate reason or divine objective for the creation of man.  Man’s inner most quests for Divine communion takes him through various stages of spiritual progress.  From a desire to know God, man progresses through constant struggle against his many weaknesses and frailties. The door of repentance in its sublime form leads to the knowledge of certainty regarding the existence of God. Hadhrat Khalifatullah emphasises on the need for keeping the mirror of our souls pristine so that we may truly reflect Divine Love.   

Read the Extracts from the Sermon:

Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur'an:

مَّا جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِرَجُلٍ مِّن قَلْبَيْنِ فِي جَوْفِهِ
“Allah has not made for any man two hearts within him.” (33: 5)

The Incomparable Majesty who granted us the boon of existence has placed in us only one heart so that with it we love only God and that we give up everything else and so that we devote ourselves only to Him by refraining from dividing our heart. Knowing God is the ultimate goal of man, and the reason for creation.

The Holy Prophet (sa) tells us that God has revealed that had it not been for him (the Holy Prophet) – that is to say, taken as the archetype and model of the man who has reached full spiritual stature – He (Allah) would not have created the heavens.
In another inspired word – Hadith Qudsi, Allah Most High says: “I was a hidden treasure and I wanted to be known, that's why I created the universe.”

God created man in His image, He breathed into him of His spirit, He has established him as His vicegerent on earth, He taught him the names of all things. When is a man freed from needs? When God shall deliver him from them? This does not take place through the efforts of man, but with the help and grace of God.

First, He produces in him the desire to achieve this goal. Then, He opens for him the door of repentance, Tawbah. Then he throws in mortification – Mujaahada – so that he continues to struggle, and for a long time to praise himself for his efforts, thinking that he is progressing and achieving something, but then he falls into despair and feels no joy. Then he knows that his work is not pure, but defiled. So he repents for the acts of devotion he believed to be his own, and finds that they had been made by the divine grace and help, and that he was guilty of Shirk by attributing them to his own efforts.

When this becomes clear to him, a feeling of joy enters his heart. Then God opened the door of certainty – Yaqeen so that for a time he takes anything from anyone and accept the insolence with which it is produced, and the doubt on this subject is removed from his heart.

Then, God opened the door of love –
Mahabba – and here too selfishness appears for a time, and he is exposed to blame – Malaama:  meaning that, in his love for God, he fearlessly confronts all that can happen and does not care for criticism, but he still thinks, “I love” and finds no rest before realising that it is God Who loves him and keeps him in this state of love, and that this is the result of love and grace of God, not of his own efforts.

Then, God opens for him the door of unity –
Tawhid and enables (him) to understand that any action depends on God Almighty. Then he sees that everything is Him, everything is done by Him, and everything is for Him, that He gave His own creatures that love to put them to the test, and that He in His Omnipotence, want that they stick to this false opinion, because omnipotence is His attribute, so that when they ponder over His attributes they know that He is the Lord. What he knew before by hearsay is now known intuitively, as he contemplates the works of God. So he fully recognises that he has no right to say “I” or “my”.

At this level, he contemplates his misery: desires abandon him and he becomes free and peaceful. He wants what God wants, his own wishes are gone; he is delivered from his needs and has earned the peace and happiness in both worlds...

First, action is necessary, and then knowledge, so that we can know that we know nothing and that we are nothing. This is not easy to know, it is something that cannot really be taught, or sewn with a needle or attached with a wire. It is a gift from God.

The vision of the heart is what counts, not the word of the language. We can never escape our self – nafs – before killing it. Saying “There is no god but Allah” is not enough. Most of those who utter verbal profession of faith are polytheists in their heart, and polytheism is the only unforgivable sin.

The whole body is full of doubt and polytheism. We have to chase them away to be at peace. As long as we do not give up our “I” or “me” or “my” (self), we shall never believe in God. It is our “self” that keeps us away from God and make us say: “Such person has wronged me, such person has done me good,” focuses on the creature, and all this is polytheism.

Nothing depends on creatures, everything depends on the Creator. We need to know this and proclaim it, and, after having proclaimed it, we must stand firm. Standing firm – istiqaama – means that when we said “one”, we should never say “two.” The Creator and the creature is “two” ... Being firm consists of this: when we say “God”, we no longer talk or have thought of created things, as if they did not exist ... Therefore
let us love He who does not cease to be when we cease to be so that we never cease to be.

Let us be like oxidised mirror which has rust covering the surface, obscuring the clarity of our images and preventing them from imprinting. Normally, a mirror is likely to receive the images and reflect them as it is. Whoever therefore wants to repair it must fulfil two tasks: scrubbing and polishing, that is to say, removing rust that should not exist, have a mirror facing the true. Like the image and the mirror, it would receive the stamp of the true to the point of identifying itself in a sense, although she remained separate in another...

This aptitude is forever in action among the angels, as it exists in pure water which naturally reflects image characteristically. But in humans, it exists in power, not in act. If he tries to fight against himself, he will reach the horizon of the angels. If, yielding to the carnal desires, he continues to provoke the causes that determine the accumulation of rust on the mirror of the soul, his ability to reflect the true shall be completely eclipsed.

Allah the Almighty said to me one day,

Purify yourself of the attributes of the self in order to contemplate your own pure essence, and look in your own heart all the sciences of the prophets, without books, without teachers, without masters. The book of the true servant of Allah is not composed of ink and letters; it is nothing but a heart white as snow. The scholar is not the one to borrow knowledge from any book and who becomes ignorant when he forgets what he has learned. The true scholar is one who receives, when he wants, his knowledge from his Lord, without study or teaching.”