Go to media page

To Reach the Divine Presence You Must Sacrifice Your Ego

Shaykh Nour Kabbani

28 June 2015 Fenton Zawiya, Michigan

Zhuhr Suhbah

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. Dastoor yaa Sayyidee, yaa Sultan al-Awliya, madad.

As-salaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullaahi ta`ala wa barakaatuh. We start with Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem.

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ الْجَنَّةَ تَحْتَ ظِلاَلِ السُّيُوفِ

The Prophet(s) said: Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords. (Bukhari)

Jannah, Paradise is under the shadows of swords and Mawlana taught us that the sword of Heavens is Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem. So under the shades of Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani `r-Raheem we can enter Paradise and we start with Bismillahi `r-Rahmani `r-Raheem and we ask for Allah's protection from the Cursed One, the Devil.

This is the month of Holy Ramadan and so far we have been explaining the Holy Qur'an, with the permission and input of our teachers we have been studying the Qur`an, just like Sayyidina Muhammad (s) with Sayyidina Jibreel (a), and it is said that during Ramadan, Sayyidina Jibreel (a) would come down to the presence of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and, yatadaarasoon al-Qur`an, they would discuss and dive into the knowledge oceans of Holy Qur'an. Alhamdullilah we have been doing this now for a few days.

The linguistic origin of the word “Ramadan” is “Ramada” [excessive heat, hot].

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ

Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an. (Surat al-Baqarah, 2:185)

The Holy Qur’an is Noor, Light from Allah (swt), and with this Light the lower self is being burned. Some scholars have said in this month when the Holy Qur'an came down with rules, knowledge and requirements for Believers, ikhtiraqun nafs bi noori ‘l-haqq, the lower self had burned with the Light of Truth because the Holy Qur’an is all Truth. Some scholars have explained the word “Ramadan” as the burning of the wicked, lower self, as Prophet Joseph (a) said, “My wicked self commands me to do evil.” So burning of that self with the Light of Truth came in this month.

We go back to Sayyidina Musa (a), we love him! He is a blessed, holy prophet and he had our best interests in his heart when he asked Sayyidina Muhammad (s) to go back to our Lord and ask Him to lessen the requirement of fifty daily prayers, which means he loved the Nation of Sayyidina Muhammad (s) and wanted them not to be burdened by fifty daily prayers that they might not do. Allah (swt) has given some of us the power to pray and worship, some saints can pray fifty prayers or more, but for us common people Sayyidina Musa (a) said, “Ask Allah (swt) to lighten that burden, to make it less.” So we love Sayyidina Musa (a)!

As we discussed in the morning in Surat al-`Araaf, we are talking about the lower self. As our teacher mentioned to us a few days ago, Allah (swt) told Sayyidina Bayazid al-Bistami (q) to leave the self and come to Him, and we have been discussing how to do that. This morning, my father shaykh Hisham opened a door and mashaa-Allah we went through that door and more knowledge is now coming!

Allah (swt) told Sayyidina Musa (a), lan taraanee, “You won’t see Me.”

قَالَ رَبِّ أَرِنِي أَنظُرْ إِلَيْكَ قَالَ لَن تَرَانِي وَلَـكِنِ انظُرْ إِلَى الْجَبَلِ فَإِنِ اسْتَقَرَّ مَكَانَهُ فَسَوْفَ تَرَانِي فَلَمَّا تَجَلَّى رَبُّهُ لِلْجَبَلِ جَعَلَهُ دَكًّا وَخَرَّ موسَى صَعِقًا فَلَمَّا أَفَاقَ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَأَنَاْ أَوَّلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

He (Musa) said, "O my Lord! Show Yourself to me, that I may look upon You." Allah said, "By no means can you see Me (directly), but look upon the mountain; if it abides in its place, then you shall see Me." When his Lord manifested His glory on the mount, He made it as dust, and Moses fell down in a swoon. When he recovered his senses, he said, "Glory be to You! To You I return in repentance, and I am the first to believe." (Surat al-`Araaf, 7:143)

The Two Wills

If we look at this verse, there is a person and the Lord, and there are two requests, iraadatayn, two wills: the will of Sayyidina Musa (a) to see the Lord and the will of Allah (swt) that He won’t be seen. Sayyidina Musa (a) is asking, “O my Lord! Show me Yourself, arinee,” it is a command. “I will, wish and want to see you!”

Sayyidina Musa (a) is of most high character, but it is a teaching for us: there is the will of a human being and there is the will of Allah (swt), which is lan taraanee, “You won’t see Me!” Whose will is going to win? Is it the will of the lower self that we all carry or the will of Allah (swt)? It is a teaching.

Hope Motivates Our Lower Self

So the lower self was wishing and wanting to see Allah (swt), and Allah (swt) said, lan taranee, “No, you will not see Me,” but look at Allah’s Infinite Wisdom, where He left a thread of hope by saying, “But...”. That was the thread of hope for Sayyidina Musa (a), for our lower self, when Allah (swt) said, “I am leaving you hope, look at the mountain.” That means, what moves our lower self is rajaa`, hope. Our lower self hopes for Paradise, for endless pleasure, for knowledge, for this and that, which is called ar-rajaa’, mentioned in so many verses of Holy Qur'an, such as:

أَمَّنْ هُوَ قَانِتٌ آنَاءَ اللَّيْلِ سَاجِدًا وَقَائِمًا يَحْذَرُ الْآخِرَةَ وَيَرْجُو رَحْمَةَ رَبِّهِ

Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing (in prayer), fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord (like one who does not)? (Surat az-Zumar, 39:9)

The one who is up all night long, standing in prayer and prostrating is afraid of the Akhirah and hoping for his Lord's mercy. So the characteristic of the lower self that moves us forward to Allah's Divine Presence is hope! If we did not have hope that we will reach palaces in Jannah, or of Hoor al-`Ayn in Jannah, a lot of human beings would not tread that road, they would not move toward Islam and deen, and the Divine Presence. So Allah (swt) has created that hope, and in this verse is showing us that thread of hope, saying, “You will not see Me, but look at the mountain: if it stays in its place, then you will see Me.” That is the hope. “You are hoping to see Me, O My Beloved Servant, Musa!”

Our Lesson

This is a teaching for us. We cannot question Sayyidina Musa’s motives or character, he is a prophet from the Oolu ‘l-`Azam, the Five Greatest Prophets, but it is a lesson for us, “I gave you hope, so continue to pay attention.” That is the same for all of us: we are hoping for Allah's Love and Mercy, to be with the Prophet (s) and with the Companions (r) and Ahlu ‘l-Bayt (r), that is what drives our nafs to that goal.

What happened, whose will won? When Allah (swt) manifested a small fraction of His Lights on the mountain, it vanished! Let’s look at this again. “If the mountain stays in its place, your will, O Musa, will prevail.” What happened to the mountain? It did not stay in its place, so the will of Sayyidina Musa (a) did not prevail, the Will of Allah (swt) prevailed, which means, “I said, ‘You will not see Me,’ but I left you a hope that you might see Me, but when the mountain shattered your will did not prevail,” because the will was connected to the mountain staying in its place. So the will of Sayyidina Musa (a) did not prevail, but the will of the Lord prevails.

Sleep, the Small Death

What happened to Sayyidina Musa (a)? He fell down sa`iqa, as my father explained this morning, he was shocked and burned, and we previously said Ramadan is the burning of the self with the Light of Truth. So he fell down and Allah (swt) is describing his state: wa kharra moosaa saa`iqa, “Musa fell down shocked, dead.” Allah (swt) knows how it is, we don't know, but Allah (swt) is saying in the two words after this, fa lammaa aafaaqa, “to wake up”. You wake up after sleep, and some scholars describe sleep as “the little death”, not the major death, but a type of death. So he woke up, what does that signify? Why did Allah (swt) say, “When he woke up from his sleep.”

اللَّهُ يَتَوَفَّى الْأَنْفُسَ حِينَ مَوْتِهَا وَالَّتِي لَمْ تَمُتْ فِي مَنَامِهَا ۖ

It is Allah (swt) that takes the souls at death and those that did not die during their sleep.

(Surat az-Zumar, 39:42)

Allah (swt) seizes or takes the souls when they die and also when we sleep, as Allah (swt) says, “I take the soul.” When Allah (swt) says ‘Sayyidina Musa (a) woke up’, Allah (swt) has taken his soul, but He continues in the same verse:

فَيُمْسِكُ الَّتِي قَضَىٰ عَلَيْهَا الْمَوْتَ وَيُرْسِلُ الْأُخْرَىٰ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

Those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed. (Surat az-Zumar, 39:42)

When Allah Removes the Human Characteristic of Duality

When Sayyidina Musa (a) fell down in sleep, the ‘small death’, and woke up, Allah (swt) had taken that nafs from him; Allah (swt) completed the annihilation of Sayyidina Musa (a), al-fanaa, and he fell down on the ground unconscious, dead, he had no life: Allah (swt) took from him that characteristic that wanted duality, to be the second one in the room. Whatever is inside of us that asks to be a second one-- and some scholars say in this verse the second one asked to have a will besides the Will of Allah (swt)-- Allah has manifested His Beautiful Names and Attributes and has taken that away.

So what did Sayyidina Musa (a) say after he woke up? Fa lammaa afaaqa qaala subhaanak, "Exalted is You, Glorified is You!” Subhaanak, for what? “To be seen by someone other than You.” No one can see Allah (swt) unless in His wisdom He permits it, but it is a lesson for us that Sayyidina Musa (a) said, “Subhaanak, Glorified is You that You can be seen by a second one.” Innee tubtu ilayk, “I have repented from what I have said.” The he saw the reality, that Allah (swt) is Laa ilaaha illa-Llah, there is no God but Him, there is no second one in the middle.

Prophet Muhammad Never Questioned His Lord and Was Given Everything

When Allah (swt) wants something that He knows is good for us, He will give it. As our teacher said this morning, when we ask of Allah (swt), we are putting our will in the middle and Sayyidina Muhammad (s) never questioned his Lord, because Allah (swt) said:

وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرْضَى

And verily, your Lord will give you so that you shall be well-pleased. (Surat ad-Duhaa, 93:5)

Your Lord will give you until you are satisfied. That is the characteristic of Sayyidina Muhammad (s). Allah (swt) knows what is in the hearts and chests of people, and He knows what is good for us and when and how it is going to be good for us, so He teaches us through the character of Sayyidina Muhammad (s). Wa la sawfa yu`teeka rabbuka fa tardaa, “Your Lord will give you until you are satisfied,” which means, when it is time Allah (swt) will give it to us.

Sayyidina Musa’s Lesson for Us

The Meaning of ‘He Fainted’

Wa kharra moosaa saa`iqan. Some translations say that Musa (a) fainted or died, and others say that he fell in a swoon. According to the dictionary definition, “swoon” is to faint, to be unconscious, but at the same time there are other meanings. If we go into dictionary.com and type in the word “swoon” (the second definition we get is): “to be in extreme ecstasy”, “to be in rapture, in a joyous state”.

Allah (swt) is putting another meaning here: when he fell in a swoon he saw what he had asked of His Lord and was in such a state of extreme joy, rapture, bliss, ecstasy, that he collapsed and that was from the Will and Favor of Allah (swt). It is a lesson from Sayyidina Musa (a) to us that if we want to tread that road to be in the Divine Presence and we follow our hope, if Allah (swt) wills He will show us from His Endless Favors.

“Subhaanak, You are Glorified!”

So Musa (a) surrendered his self and when he woke up he said, “O My Lord! Subhaanak, You are Glorified! I repent my sin!” He gave himself up, so Allah (swt) took the self from him, and all of us are on that road, for our self to be taken from us! This is Shahru Ramadan, where the self is burned by the Light of Truth, and if we continue our worship in this month we will deprive our ego.of its pleasures, when we are riding our ego.

Training that Wild Horse within Us

Allah (swt) has given us an animal and has shown us how to tame it. He gave us a wild horse that kicks, bites, and does not obey. Allah (swt) has left us in this land. What if we were taken to the wilds of Nebraska and told to train a wild horse and find our way back? Allah (swt) sent the soul and ego to the body, then He said, “ I have given you a wild creature. Tame it and come back to me.”

Mawlana Shaykh Nazim (q) said, the only way back to Him is by training or riding the ego, the horse. You can’t take a plane, ship, or car, you have to ride the ego to come to the Divine Presence. When we ride the ego to Divine Presence, what do we do? We leave the ego behind, we sacrifice it. The blood has to come out, like when we sacrifice an animal and blood gushes out. The blood of the ego is desire, hawwaa, our desires, even hoping to reach Paradise is a desire! It lives and moves by desire.

At the end of the way when we are treading the road of sainthood with our shuyookh, we have to let go of our desires and of thinking, “I am in the Divine Presence! I want more knowledge! I want more honor! I want more status! I want, I want, I want!” That has to stop! We have to let go of all our desires, good and bad [like to be in the Divine Presence or for more honor and status]. That’s when you slaughter the ego and drain the blood of vain desires, the lust of the ego, but that desire is a vehicle that takes us there, because if the ego has no goal it does not move.

The Slaughter

When we reach the Divine Presence, as told by our teachers and grandshaykhs, we must leave desire and slaughter it:

وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ

We ransomed him with a tremendous sacrifice. (Surat as-Saffaat, 37:107)

When Sayyidina Ibrahim (a) wanted to sacrifice his son and he passed the test, Allah (swt) said, “We have given him a big sacrifice to give.” Why do we sacrifice animals in Mecca? The other day we were were talking about going to Mecca, seeking the Divine Presence, to meet Allah (swt).

وَالْبُدْنَ جَعَلْنَاهَا لَكُم مِّن شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ لَكُمْ فِيهَا خَيْرٌ فَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهَا صَوَافَّ فَإِذَا وَجَبَتْ جُنُوبُهَا فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْقَانِعَ وَالْمُعْتَرَّ كَذَلِكَ سَخَّرْنَاهَا لَكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

The sacrificial camels we have made for you as among the symbols from Allah, in them is (much) good for you, so pronounce the Name of Allah over them as they line up (for sacrifice and), when they are down on their sides (after slaughter), eat them and feed those who live in contentment and those who beg with due humility. Thus have We made animals subject to you, that you may be grateful.

(Surat al-Hajj, 22:36)

With Training the Ego Becomes a Worthy Sacrifice

These sacrificial animals are our egos. When we direct ourselves to the Ka`aba, to Divine Presence, Allah (swt) grants our egos goodness, happiness and pleasure, and He made the Ka`aba as a symbol to move, because when your ego is moving toward the Divine Presence it is shedding bad manners, ar-radhaa’il, and acquiring good manners, fadaa’il. Then these egos become shareefah, honored and pious, symbols of Allah’s blessing and favors, the fat, honored animals, obedient and serving their Lord, going towards Divine Presence to be sacrificed. When our egos acquire good manners and keep on the way of our saints and shuyookh, like Sayyidina Bayazid al- Bastami (q) was told, the ego, nafs has to be left behind to be slaughtered and drained of the blood, the life of the ego, desires.“There is so much goodness for you in them (sacrificial animals), so mention the names of Allah (swt) on them.” Sawaaf, now they are all in line, the egos are no longer out of line, they don't go back or move right or left without Allah's permission. It means, “The sacrificial animals We have made for you are from the Signs of Allah and in them there is much good for you, so pronounce the Name of Allah as they line up.”

When our egos start to shape up and become obedient and in line for Allah (swt), “When they lie down, then you can slaughter them; then you can feed the people who are in need.” (Surat al-Hajj, 22:36) So when our egos are lined up, as Sayyidina Bayazid al-Bastami (q) was told, “Come to Me without your ego,” meaning, “When your ego is lined up”, then it’s time for them to lie on their sides and be sacrificed for the sake of Allah (swt) to drain all their desires.” Then, as in the story of Sayyidina Musa (a), there is no more desire and no more hoping, because as Allah (swt) told Sayyidina Muhammad (s), “Verily, your Lord will give you so that you shall be well-pleased. (Surat ad-Duhaa, 93:5) At this stage, there is no more ‘us’, there is no dual will but only Allah's will. Allah (swt) is saying, “When these sacrificial animals (our egos) line up, put them on their sides and take that will from them, so they submit to My will.”

The Incident of the Sacrificial Calf in Damascus

I will relate a story I heard from my dad, as I think it’s a perfect time to say it. They often visited Grandshaykh (q) and always tried to sacrifice an animal to give to the dargah. So one time, he and my Uncle Adnan got the idea of getting a calf, baby cow, not a small animal, that weighed more than 300 kilos, almost 700 pounds, it was big! Allah (swt) tells us when sacrificial animals are fattened up they are better, like when our egos get good manners, they are getting stronger and stronger, fattened up and honored. So my father and uncle wanted to bring an honorable sacrifice to Grandshaykh `AbdAllah (q), but there was a problem: Grandshaykh (q) lived on a mountain and they can only drive these small Suzuki cars up there. So they put the cow in the back of a Suzuki truck and drove up, and then the Suzuki stopped at the foot of more than forty stairs! They got the cow down from the truck and wanted to bring it up, but it was disobedient, like our egos when we come with our animal to the shaykh, as Mawlana Shaykh Nazim (q) said, “They come with their animals to the shaykh, as with any shaykh.” They were taking their animal to Grandshaykh (q)!

Wrestling the Desires of the Ego

So they brought their animal and it was a fat, good, honored one, worthy to be sacrificed, but the problem was how to get the animal up those stairs! They brought something like carrots to lure the calf. Grandshaykh (s) came to the door of the dargah and said to `Abdus-Salam, “Show this grass to the cow and it will move up the hill.” Grandshaykh (q) brought the grass and came with the helper: “it does not have to be the shaykh, but his helper.” The shaykh brought the grass, that is the hope. The animal is hoping for pleasure, pleased and happy to be given, and is going to the shaykh to be slaughtered. Then the helper, the dervish, gave the bait to the cow and it moved very slowly up, and my father and my uncle were happy it was going to be sacrificed. It came to the door and entered.

But the story doesn’t end there! They tried to push it down inside the courtyard, but it wouldn’t go any further, just like us, fighting, resisting. Our animal is a 700 pound calf! What are you going to do? Allah (swt), said, “When these sacrificial animals are in line, put them down.”

The Shaykh Frees Us from Our Animal, but Wants Us to Struggle

So who brought it down? Grandshaykh (q) came out and said, “Leave it!” I remember my father told us, “With one strike he brought the animal down.” All of them and the helpers tried to wrestle the animal down and it was not working because it does not work that way, the shaykh is the one who will put it down. Sayyidina Musa (a) was wrestling his nafs and it was not him, but it was Allah (swt) who put it down. “Come to the shaykh, you will be honored!” is the bait. When it is time he will tell you, “Move aside. I will free you from your animal, all I wanted from you was the intention to bring it here. I am the one who brought it to the dargah, put it down and will slaughter it.”

Tariqah is not outside of Islam, it is all in the Holy Qur'an. There were no two wills anymore, only one, as Sayyidina Musa (a) said, “Subhaanak! You are Glorified!” We have wrong ideas that we are going to be this and that, so the animal is slaughtered by the shaykh and then there are not two, there is only Haqiqat, Reality, which is Laa ilaaha illa-Llah.

Wa min Allahi ‘t-tawfeeq bi hurmati 'l-Fatihah.


© Copyright 2015 Sufilive. All rights reserved. This transcript is protected

by international copyright law. Please attribute Sufilive when sharing it. JazakAllahu khayr.