A`oodhu billahi min ‘ash-Shaytani 'r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem. Alhamdulillahi Rabbi 'l-`Alameen, wa ’s-salaatu wa ’s-salaamu 'alaa ashrafi 'l-mursaleena Sayyidina wa Nabiyyina Muhammadin wa 'alaa aalihi wa sahbihi ajma`een. Laakina Huwa Allahu Rabbee wa laa ushriku bi rabbee ahada...
Salaam `alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Allah (swt) revealed to the Prophet (s) in the Holy Qur'an in Surat Al-Fatihah that we have to ask for the Right Guidance, ihdina 's-Siraat al-Mustaqeem; we have to ask for the Right Path, the hudaa, guidance, which is from Allah (swt. It is not something you acquire, it is not something in your hands; to find the Right Guidance is not something you research, not something you read in books, it is from Allah (swt).
The Guidance is from Allah through Prophet Muhammad
Allah (swt) has blessed us with the presence of Sayyidina Muhammad (s) amongst us. The words of the Prophet (s), what came into the Prophet's heart and what he said on his holy tongue are with us until Judgment Day: inna al-hudaa hud'Allah, the guidance is the guidance of Allah (swt), Himself, His Guidance. He sent us the Holy Qur'an, in which He said:
بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
الم ذَلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ
Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem. Alif. Laam. Meem. Dhalika ‘l-kitaabu laa rayba feehi hudan li ’l-muttaqeen.
In the Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful. Alif. Laam. Meem. This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:1-2)
Allah (swt) has sent the Guidance through the holy heart of the Prophet (s):
وَلَئِن شِئْنَا لَنَذْهَبَنَّ بِالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ
If We willed, We could surely take away that what We have revealed to you.
(Surat al-Israa’, 17:86)
Imagine if Allah (swt) took the Holy Guidance, Holy Qur'an away, what would our lives be? Allah (swt) is saying, “If We will, We could surely take your guidance away.” What are we trying to be guided to? Allah (swt) says hudan li ‘l-muttaqeen, “Guidance to those who are muttaqeen, alladheena yuminoona bi ‘l-ghayb, those who try to protect themselves from harm.” That is what ‘wikaya’ means. Allah (swt) is saying, Ittaqoo 'n-naar, “Protect yourself from fire,” and then Ittaqoollah, “Fear Allah!” protect yourself from Allah (swt). How can this be? We want Allah (swt) and He is saying, “Fear Allah, protect yourself from Allah.” How can you protect yourself from fire and from Allah (swt)?
Allah (swt) has Attributes we don't think about. Allah (swt) says, “If I were to manifest Myself with My Attributes of Anger, Vengeance,Wrath, Intiqam....” He is The Avenger, The Revenge-Taker, Ad-Daarr, The One who can send you a test that you do not like! When Allah (swt) says, “Make a protection for yourself from ghadabullah, Allah’s anger”, Hellfire is a manifestation of Allah's Attributes. Also, when Allah (swt) says “al-muttaqeen”, it can be those who are protecting themselves from anything that makes Him displeased, so when He says, “Protect yourself from the Fire”, it means protect yourself from anything that displeases Allah (swt).
When we displease Allah (swt), we receive the Manifestations of His Holy and Divine Names al-Muntaqim, ad-Darr... so hudan li ’l-muttaqeen, what do we have to do to be the muttaqeen? Alladheena yoominoon bi ’l-ghayb, we have to believe in the Unseen: imaan comes into the heart, so we have to fill our hearts with the Unseen.
Leave Love of What You See for Love of the Unseen
What is the top of ‘Unseen’? The highest level, al-qimmat al-imaan is to believe in Allah (swt) and what He tells us about Himself. We know about His messengers, His books, angels and the Last Day because Allah (swt) told us about it. We have to empty our hearts of all that is not Allah (swt), our hearts that are now filled with love of the ‘Seen’, all what we see around us. So when Allah (swt) says we have to believe in the Unseen, it means we must empty our hearts of all the things we see. Why do saints go into seclusion, what is there, trees, streams, mountains, cars, food, mansions, fancy things? What is a real seclusion? In a saint’s seclusion they put drapes on the windows, no light comes in, which means Unseen: they shield themselves from anything seen. In seclusion you enter that room, cave, hut or wherever you are and isolate yourself from whatever is seen. There is nothing of what you are accustomed, only four walls, and you are surrounded with the Unseen.
So Allah (swt) says, “Protect yourselves from My displeasure by believing in the Unseen and emptying your heart of everything you see around you." That is real seclusion, that is what our teachers tell us. Today they say seclusion can also be among people by emptying your heart from love of what you see around you. It is a state of the heart: you may physically be with people, but your heart is in seclusion. Allah (swt) said about those who believe in the Unseen:
تَتَجَافَى جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنِ الْمَضَاجِعِ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ
They arise from (their) beds, they supplicate their Lord in fear and aspiration, and they spend from what We have provided them. (Surat as-Sajda, 32:16)
How to Remove Love of This World from Our Hearts
So how do they remove love of dunya from their hearts? They make salaat! These people who want to empty their hearts of the Seen establish prayer to go through a state of purification. The Seen has two aspects: our body that we look at and everything around it. When we go into salaat, we are giving up the comfort of our bodies, we are tiring our body in prayer and our body is not enjoying itself anymore. How many of us would like to spend all night praying? The Prophet (s) did. That takes away the love to your body and its comfort by making it pray all night long, which removes the pleasures of the body, so your self-love decreases.
“They spend from what Allah (swt) gave them”, so give away the pleasures that accumulate around your body: food, clothes, mansions, wealth. If you give away what is around you the through prayer and charity, you give away reasons for your heart to love these two things, and that love will not enter your heart again! Whatever takes you away from the love of Allah (swt)--our body and whatever is around our body--when you get rid of these two things, belief and love of Allah (swt) increase, there is no more love of dunya, which is ‘myself’ and ‘what is around myself, so in that state you empty your heart so it is purely for Allah (swt). Shaykh Hisham (qs) recently said to acheive that, you must fast from everything that is other than Allah (swt). Shaykh Nazim (qs) said the highest form is fasting from dunya, which is the fast of the heart. When you cut yourself off and disconnect your heart from dunya, then imaan increases. As long as we have love of dunya--ourselves and the things around us--then imaan cannot fully enter our hearts and our love cannot be exclusively for Allah (swt), and He likes our hearts to be purely for Him.
So Allah (swt) guides in the Holy Qur'an, “Whoever wants want to protect themselves from harm and receive the pleasure of Allah must believe in al-ghayb, the Unknown." They have to give up comfort and then imaan can enter their hearts, because then what happens? Secrets of what came before you and knowledge of Allah’s Words start to enter the heart: the Bible, Torah, Psalms, the Qur’an, all start to enter into the heart. How? When imaan in Allah (swt) comes into the heart everything comes with it: knowledge of angels, prophets, the Holy Books, the Last Day. When you fill your heart with love of Allah (swt) all these things start to enter it. So when a person goes into seclusion and empties their heart from love of their surroundings, knowledges start to appear in their heart. That is `Ilm al-Yaqeen, the true faith, not just faith we express of claim by tongue, but real faith rooted in the heart. With Allah's power and wisdom, those people start to see what we don’t see and they advance in faith.
Empty Your Heart to Receive Heavenly Knowledge
Allah (swt) explains, the knowledge passed down to Prophet Muhammad (s), Prophet `Isa (a) and Prophet Musa (a) can now enter your heart because you made room for it by vacating your love of something else, then imaan starts to bring in the true love of real knowledge. When these secrets start to come in, Allah (swt) says that is a higher level than imaan.
وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ وَبِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُونَ
And who believe in that which was sent to you, O Muhammad, and that which was sent down before you and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:4)
If your eyes are closed and I tell you the bottle of water is on the table, you will think maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but if you see it then you will be certain. So when the secrets of the Bible, Torah, Qur'an, knowledge of Allah’s Holy Words enter hearts of Believers, they begin to see with certainty and advance in faith: bi ‘l-akhirati hum yuqinoon, they believe with certainty in the Hereafter and begin to see it, which is why true saints can see what we cannot see or understand. That knowledge starts to appear in their hearts, then they have certainty in their faith, they see it; therefore, they are the ones on true guidance from their Lord and they are successful.
So in four or five verses, Allah (swt) explains to Mankind how we can become those who see the Hereafter while we are still in dunya. I heard from my teacher, Mawlana Shaykh Nazim (qs), that those who have reached the level of Certainty can see the Hereafter from this world and Holy Qur'an confirms it. Allah (swt) says, “This is the book in which there is no doubt and it is a guidance for the Believers”, then He explains the steps to reach that level.
Who is on Guidance Rides His Ego
Allah said in Holy Qur'an:
وَإِنَّا أَوْ إِيَّاكُمْ لَعَلَىٰ هُدًى أَوْ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ
And certainly either we or you are on Right Guidance or in manifest error! (Surat al-Sabaa, 34:24)
Wa inna aw iyaakum `alaa huda aw `alaa dalaalin mubeen. Why did He say `alaa, “to be on top of”, (i.e.) “riding” or “mounting”? This is an address to the Prophet (s) and his Companions (r) and to the unbelievers: “Either we or you are ‘on’ guidance or ‘in’ misguidance." It means you are ‘on’ guidance, either riding ‘on’ it or walking ‘on’ it, and ‘in’(inside) misguidance.
Allah (swt) also said:
وَأَحَاطَتْ بِهِ خَطِيئَتُهُ
His sin encompassed him. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:81)
Wa ahaatat bihim khatiyatahu, “You will be encompassed by your sin, it will encircle you." [...] Your ego is not meant to be your guide, you are meant to ride it, so if you mount your ego you mount the guidance and if you don't mount your ego it will swallow you. Allahu Akbar. If someone is on misguidance, if his ego has swallowed him, he is in complete darkness, he is gone, but the one who rides his ego is guided, which leads to certainty in faith and seeing the Hereafter. Do you like that or do you like to continue being swallowed by your ego? Do you give your ego the pleasures of the body or try to curb that? Do you give your ego pleasures like wealth, stature, fame, being `alim, being a shaykh? Do you allow your ego to swallow you up? If you allow your ego to gain pleasure it will lead you to dalaal and that will lead to Allah's punishment, but if you manage to break out from your ego, fakku raqabah, then you free yourself from slavery to your ego, you mounted your ego and broke out!
All Knowledge is by Allah’s Grant
This is the foundation of the Naqshbandi Tariqah, this is what our teachers teach us: not to be proud and arrogant because we think we know something as Allah (swt) can take this knowledge away!
وَلَئِن شِئْنَا لَنَذْهَبَنَّ بِالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ
If We willed, if We wanted, We could surely take away that what We have revealed to you.
(Surat al-Israa, 17:86)
What does an `alim have without the Holy Qur'an? What knowledge do we have? What knowledge did the unbelievers among the Quraysh have before Prophet (s) came? They sacrificed sheep to statues, that was their knowledge! A scholar, `alim, only has knowledge because of Allah's knowledge; a wali is a wali because of Allah's knowledge; a prophet is a prophet because of Allah's knowledge! All of us are worthless if there is no knowledge of Allah (swt) here! Allah (swt) has granted us His knowledge and we cannot ascribe it to ourselves. We are worthless without His grant, we cannot say, ‘I know’. What do you know? You read a book, it is Allah's knowledge and to think otherwise is:
كَلَّا إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَيَطْغَىٰ
On the contrary, truly Mankind transgresses! (Surat al-`Alaq, 96:6)
The human being will transgress his boundaries--that is from the taaghoot in us (desire to go beyond limits)-- and will say, “I know.” We say ‘I’, but what is ‘I’ ? Those who break free of ego and what surrounds them are riding on their egos and are on guidance from their Lord, and they are the Successful Ones! We ask Allah (swt) to make us from them, to be always in the Way of Allah, for Allah (swt)!
Do you allow anyone to enter your yard? They should only enter when you give permission. Similarly, if Allah (swt) does not allow us to be on His Way we will be lost. Allah (swt) does not like mustakbireen, the arrogant who think highly of themselves; they are not worthy of Allah's Love. We ask Allah (swt) to keep us away from such people and to make us from those who are on the Straight Path, the path of emptying ourselves from loving comforts of the body and what is around it!
Astaghfirullah al-`azheem min kulli dhanbin wa ma`asiyyatin. We are not the ones to give interpretations to Allah's Words, but sometimes our teachers give permission to explain from their teachings. We ask to be on their way.
Wa min Allahi ‘t-tawfeeq bi hurmati 'l-Fatihah.
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