FIRST VOLUME, 99th LETTER
This letter, written as an answer to Molla Hasan Kishmîrî, explains how not to forget Allâhu ta’âlâ for a moment and that He will not be forgotten even while one is asleep, or when one is unconscious:
We have been honoured with reading your valuable letter. Some of the great ones of this way informed us that they were aware of Allâhu ta’âlâ every moment, and that they remembered Him every moment, and even as they were asleep. You ask how this is so. Respectable Sir! For explaining this, it is necessary to write a few things first; I will write briefly. Read carefully!
Man’s soul used to be incapable of making progress before uniting with this body. It was fastened, imprisoned in its private grade. But, after descending into this body, it was given the ability and strength to get promoted. This quality made it superior to and more honoured than an angel. Through His mercy and blessing, Allâhu ta’âlâ united the soul with this insensible, unmoving, good-for-nothing, dark body. Allâhu ta’âlâ, who united the light of the soul with a dark body and who has kept the soul, which is unsubstantial and without time and place, with the body, which is made of matter, is so great. All greatness, all superiorities are peculiar to Him only. No defect can exist in Him. The meaning of this word should be comprehended well. Because the soul and the body are polar opposites, Allâhu ta’âlâ made the soul fall in love with the body so that they might stay together. This love caused them to remain at the same place together. The Qur’ân al-kerîm informs us with this fact by declaring: “We created man’s soul in a beautiful shape, and then later demoted it to the lowest grade,” in Sûrat-u-Wa-t-tîn. The soul’s demotion to this grade and its falling in love is an act of promotion in the guise of demotion. Thus, because of its interest in and its love for the nafs, the soul threw itself down into the world of the nafs and became a follower, a slave of the nafs.
In fact, it got beside itself, it forgot about itself. It took the shape of the nafs-i ammâra; it became, as it were, the nafs-i ammâra. Because the soul is finer than everything [because it is lighter than hydrogen, which is the lightest form of matter, and even lighter than an electron], because it is not even matter, it takes the state, shape and colour of whatever it unites with. Because it forgot about itself, it forgot its knowledge of Allâhu ta’âlâ, which it had had formerly when it had been in its own world, in its own grade. It became ignorant and unaware. Like the nafs, it darkened with the darkness of ignorance. Since Allâhu ta’âlâ is very merciful, He sent Prophets ‘’alaihi-s-salâtu wa-t-teslîmât’, and through these great people, He called the soul to Himself and commanded it not to follow, not to obey the nafs, which is its sweetheart and darling. If the soul, obeying this command, disobeys the nafs and turns away from it, it will be saved from perdition. Otherwise, if it does not raise its head and if it prefers to stay with the nafs and not leave the world, it will lose its way and its happiness. It must be understood from these words of ours that the soul has united with the nafs; nay, it has become the nafs, totally forgetting itself. Therefore, as long as the soul remains in this state, the unawareness and the ignorance of the nafs will be the unawareness and ignorance of the soul.
But, if the soul turns away from the nafs, ceases to care for it and loves Allâhu ta’âlâ instead of it, and if it, getting rid of the love for a creature like itself, falls in love with the True Eternal, Who exists endlessly, and becomes beside itself with this love, the unawareness and ignorance of the outside, i.e. the nafs, will not infect the inside, i.e. the soul. It will not forget Allâhu ta’âlâ for even a moment. How can the unawareness of the nafs ever influence it, while it has parted from the nafs completely? Nothing has penetrated the inside from the outside; in this case, while the outside is in heedlessness, the inside is aware, awake. It is always aware of its Rabb. For example, as long as almond oil is in the pip of the almond, they are like one and the same thing. But when the oil parts from the sediment, they become two differnt things in every respect, each having different qualities. Thus, a happy, fortunate person who has been promoted to this position is sometimes made to descend back into this world. While he knows Allâhu ta’âlâ, he is made to return to this world, and, through his honoured and blessed being, the world is rescued from the darkness and ignorance of the nafs.
Such a blessed person lives among people. Outwardly, he is like others. But his soul is not dependent upon anything; its sole companion is his knowledge of and love for Allâhu ta’âlâ. He has been returned to this world despite his reluctance. When looked at superficially, such a high person, who has attained haqîqat, may be thought of as having forgotten Allâhu ta’âlâ and having been seized by the love of creatures, like others. But, in actual fact, he is quite unlike them. There is quite a difference between falling in love with something and turning away from it by ceasing to care for it. Let us also say that such a high person’s interest in and fondness for creatures are not within his own will. He does not value the world. In fact, Allâhu ta’âlâ wants and likes this state. But others’ fondness and interest originate from themselves; they embrace the world. Allâhu ta’âlâ does not approve of this fondness of theirs; He does not like it. Another difference is that others can turn away from this world and can attain knowledge and love of Allâhu ta’âlâ. But it is impossible for this high person to turn away from people. It is his duty to be together with people. It is only when his duty is over that he will be transferred from this transient world to the eternal world. Only then will he attain his real position.
Great men of Tasawwuf explained the grade of guidance differently. Most of them said: “It is being together with Allah, while being among people.” This difference among their remarks is because the states and the grades of those who have a say in this matter are different from one another. Each of them spoke in accordance with his own grade. Allâhu ta’âlâ knows the truth of everything. Sayyid-ul-tâifa Junayd-i Baghdâdî’s ‘quddisa sirruh’ statement: “To attain the end means a return to the beginning,” is an explanation suitable with the grade of guidance, which we have described above, for in the beginning only creatures are seen and loved. As a matter of fact, the hadîth, “My two eyes sleep, but my heart does not sleep”, does not communicate a continuous attachment and awareness concerning Allâhu ta’âlâ. Perhaps it reveals his awareness of his own states and the states of his Ummat, and that he is not asleep. It is for this reason that our Prophet’s sleeping would not break his ’abdast (ablution). Since the Prophet is like the shepherd of a flock in protecting his Ummat, it would not become his rank of prophethood for him to forget about his Ummat even for a moment. Likewise, the hadîth, “I have such private times with Allâhu ta’âlâ that no superior angel or Prophet can come between us at these times”, does not refer to ‘always’ but to ‘sometimes.’ Even at such times as these he does not necessarily turn away from creatures, for Allâhu ta’âlâ manifests Himself to him. He does not forget about creatures and look for manifestations. It is like the darling’s manifestations to the lover; the lover is not after the darling.
On the mirror of shapes there’s no motion, not a bit;
Because, something not glorious cannot appear on it.
Briefly, when returning to creatures, the veils that have been lifted before do not return. Without the veils in between, he has been sent to go among creatures and to be a means for saving and awakening creatures. This person is like a government official who is very close to a great emperor. However, he is given also the task of looking into the affairs of the people and solving their problems. This is another difference between those who have attained the end and then come back and those who are still in the beginning, for those who are in the beginning are behind the veils. As for those who have come back, the veils have been lifted up from before them. May Allâhu ta’âlâ bless you and those on the righteous way with salvation! Âmîn.