The Fourth of Seven Discourses on Hubb,
11th August 2007,
Masjid Mahmoud, Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa
THE FOUR CONDITIONS OF THE LOVER
We are continuing with what we have been studying over the last few weeks. We are now going to come to the Four Conditions of the Lover. The Tajalliyat al-Haqq to the Gnostic Lovers is what the Sufis call Manassat al-A’ras – In the bridal chamber of the Lovers. The Tajalliyat confer on the Lover the Attributes of Love, and they are four.
The First Condition of the Lover is Maqtul – To be Slain. It is from the Wedding Throne of this Tajalli that the Lover is invested with this condition of being the slaughtered creature, given that he is composed of a natural substructure, Tabi‘a, and a spirit – he consists of a material substance and a Ruhani reality.
It was said by one of the poets, “The spirit is light, nature is dark. Now, these are an antimony in the creature.” There is a contradiction in the human creature between these two aspects. Two realities oppose and exclude each other and each claims a unique status. Thus to claim Shari’at without Haqiqat, or Haqiqat without Shari’at is to remain a dualist. The Lover does not escape this rule.
If the natural aspect dominates, his condition – Haykal, is darkened so that he loves Allah through the creatures, so that the light progressively penetrates the darkness. We shall look to the Qur’an and at Surat YaSin (36:37-38):
A Sign for them is the night: We peel the day away from it
and there they are in darkness.
And the sun runs to its resting place.
That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.
The day in this Ayat represents the light, so that on the horizon is the metaphor for what is taking place inside the self. This is to love Allah for the favours He gives you – these coming like provisions at the hand of others. There is a love that is a love for the creatures, for the created beings, but it is because you love the One who provides for you. In that loving, the Giver is Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. The Provider is Allah, but the ordinary person loves the creature who is the giving one. So this is, as it were, the first condition of love which is mixed. But, if the natural dominates the creature then there is conflict which leads to death. If the Ruhani dominates the creature then he would die Shahid, alive in Allah.
Thus, in the person and their journey through life there is a dominance of Ruhani energies, or there is a dominance of darkness from his animal nature. The Lover is slaughtered in the world, even if he is not aware of it. If he does not die one way he will die the other, but it is the process of love that will bring about this end. Now we come to the second condition.
The Second Condition of the Lover is Talif – To be Mentally Thrown Off Course, to be confused. Allah has created the Lover by His two Names, Adh-Dhahir and Al-Batin. As we have said, there are these two aspects in man, of a physical nature and of a Ruhani nature. So Allah has created the Lover to form a creature that is manifest and hidden. The human creature has a manifest dimension and a hidden dimension. He places reason within the creature so that he may discriminate and keep an equilibrium in his self. Also, he has to keep an equilibrium in the cosmos. Remember Surat Fatir (35:39):
It is He who made you Khalifs on the earth.
Allah has made the human creature responsible for the whole planet. All this thing that the kuffar are now talking about, about the disorder on the planet, has been created by man – he has this responsibility yet he has not carried it out. He has handed it over for money and for wealth. It is man’s job to keep an equilibrium in the cosmos and an equilibrium in himself, and he has been given reason in order to see that these two aspects of himself have got balance. Of course, the Shari’at is the guide to a behaviour which will allow a possibility of a Ruhani illumination.
So it is possible to love Allah through the creatures to sustain equilibrium. Yet, Allah has unveiled to the Lover His Name in Surat ash-Shura (42:11):
Nothing is like Him.
He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.
Look at this devastating situation. I have commented on this at length in ‘The Book of Tawhid’. “Nothing is like Him. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” Thus Allah unveils Himself to the Lover by His Name ‘Nothing is like Him’. Allah shows him that He is not like anything. This is the confusion. This is the turbulence into which the human creature is set, when knowledge hits him. Here he is with love that is going out here and going out there and suddenly the Creator says, “Nothing is like Him,” and then this leaves the Lover disoriented. This then reveals to him that he can never measure the force of things, especially since He, Allah, has added after this: “He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” This is the situation he finds himself in – that Allah has revealed His Names: The Hearer and The Seer.
Thus since the affair itself is Allah’s affair, the Lover is thrown off the life-project. He has his life-project, he has the other creatures, and suddenly he discovers this devastating thing which is that Allah is not like any of the things. This is the throwing-off of the life-project. The life-project is thrown into crisis by this devastating discovery which is the heart of Tawhid.
This is the proper derangement of the Lover. This apparent dislocation is in fact the awakening of the spiritual Ruhani capacity to love Allah. It is not a disobedience of the Shari’at, but a rejection of the all-demanding project of the Dunya, because suddenly, to reach out to Love of Allah means this project of the Dunya is dislocated as Allah is not like any of it! He is not like any thing!
The Third Condition of the Lover is ‘To be On the Way’. It is to be on the Way towards Allah by His Names. He has to affront this turbulence in him, this awakening love that comes by this crack in the material consciousness. He must approach Allah by his Names. Allah manifests to the Lover both by the names of the creatures – the Kawn – as by the Divine Names, as He explains in Surat al-Baqara (2:31):
He taught Adam the names of all things.
So his faculty that allows him to know the names of the creatures is itself a Divine unveiling. Allah manifests to the Lover both by the names of the creatures – the Kawn – as by the Divine Names. The Lover sees the Tajalliyat of the names of the creatures by their attributes, as receiving a Divine descent. In other words, he sees that the creature is hearing, seeing and knowing – all the mother attributes that we have totally given to Allah and nothing is like Him, and then he still sees that the creatures have these borrowed in-time attributes of Allah, Who is beyond-time. So he finds that all this love he had for the creatures is actually because in them he perceives the Names. They have these attributes by Divine descent, yet by an unknown perspective, otherwise you would identify Allah, astaghfirullah, with the creation which is not possible because “Nothing is like Him.” You recognise that by a Divine descent onto the creature there are these in-time borrowed attributes which belong to Allah.
Then he sees that he has an in-time appropriation of Divine Names and they become apparent by character – Takhalluq. He sees the signs in himself and in creation. Surat al-Fussilat (41:53-54):
We will show them Our Signs on the horizon and within themselves
until it is clear to them that it is the truth.
Is it not enough for your Lord that He is a witness of everything?
What! Are they in doubt about the meeting with their Lord?
What! Does He not encompass all things?
He sees the signs in himself and in creation, so he is recognising the manifestation of the Names in the creation without making any association between the things and the Divine Reality.
Now we go to the Diwan of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, rahimahullah, and ‘The Greater Qasida’ which is at the beginning. We shall look at a section in the middle of this Qasida:
For the light of the Names of the Lord of the Throne
Extends throughout all its known and hidden parts.
If you were to reflect on the oceans and their origin,
And how wisdom is learned through studying them,
Then you would know that no-one is capable of grasping its secret
And you would affirm that power belongs to Allah alone.
Let your thoughts flow freely regarding its mountains
And you will find that they are the pegs without a doubt.
Look at the beauty of the appearance of the flowers,
And the marvellous variety of different fruits.
Look at every visible manifestation!
It all gushes from the fount of energy and power.
Consider all this and then see the beauty of the truth.
Take care – you cannot despise even the lowest atom.
Things have no existence except through their Lord.
O Living! O Eternal! Your own most eloquent proof!
Thus the entire universe is constituted by the totality of the Divine Names. All, that is except for the name of the human creature which is ‘Abd – slave. So on his journey he recognises that he has all along been in error. He has distinguished and set apart the Lover from the Beloved. Abu Yazid told of what happened to him when he arrived at the end of his journey in his narration: “Allah approached me by something that was not part of me, that did not belong to me.” When he relinquished what did not belong to him, that is his slavehood, he was of course annihilated – “Nothing is like him.”
So he had to disappear. He tells that a voice said to him in the cave, “Who is within?” And he replied, “Abu Yazid.” The voice said, “Know then that I cannot enter, for where I am there can be no other.” This was what the Sufis call the Fana’, the annihilation of Abu Yazid in the Tajalliyat of the Essence of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.
The Fourth Condition of the Lover is Tayyar – To be Mobile like a Bird. The Lover looks on his names, his borrowed attributes, he looks on these qualities that he has from Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, and he looks on the collection of these Names by which we exist: the knowing, the hearing, the seeing, the willing and so on, and he looks on that as his nest – Wikar. Once he realises that this is not how it is, he flies out from his own nest. He then moves by Allah, sustained by His Names. He flies to the Owner of the Names, to the zone of knowledges. Surat ar-Rahman (55:29):
Every day He is engaged in some affair.
Every day He, Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, is engaged in some affair. It is by the wisdom of this Ayat that he flies to the Owner of the Names to the zone of knowledges which is in this “Every day He is engaged in some affair.” Shaykh Zarruq had been for years in the desert with a Shaykh, when he was suddenly told by his Shaykh, “Now you are finished, go!” Shaykh Zarruq said to the Muqaddam, “But there is something I wanted from him and I have not got it – don’t make me go!” But the Muqaddam insisted, “You must go!” and led him to the door of the Zawiyya and shut the gates against him. He was faced with the desert and felt he had nothing. He banged on the door of the Zawiyya and the Muqaddam opened it and he exclaimed, “Please! I cannot go, I am not ready. Tell the Shaykh to give me something that will last me all my life!” The Muqaddam went back to the Shaykh and returned with this poem which is very famous to all the Sufis:
Submit to Salma, Go where she goes.
Follow the winds of Destiny, Turn wherever they turn.
Salma is a woman’s name and it is used in the language of the Sufis to represent the Essence of Allah.
Thus the Lover of Allah goes from one day to the next, from one action to the next, from one Hal to the next. In this way he is sustained in the Hadrat of contemplation of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Now we shall comment on the Ten Stages of Love, from Shaykh Nasirud-Din, the Chiraghi of Delhi.
The First Stage is ‘Ulfa – Attachment. It has five phases. The first is Qul. The word of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, is “Say”: “Qul.” We are familiar with this word:
In the name of Allah, All-Merciful, Most Merciful
Say: “He is Allah, Absolute Oneness,
Allah, the Everlasting Sustainer of all.
He has not given birth and was not born.
And no one is comparable to Him.”
This creates this attachment. It is this Qul, it is this news that is the beginning of the Lovers’ Path.
The second phase is kitmani maylan – Keeping it Secret. He keeps secret to himself his love. One of the Sufis said, “The remedy for the pain is the pain.”
The third phase is Timna – The Turbulence of Yearning for Contact. The turbulence begins to stir the heart in wanting some indication, some light to come from Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.
The fourth phase is Ikhbar wa Istikhbar – you want news of Allah and you want Allah to recognise you. You want to be noticed in the Divine Presence.
The fifth phase is Tadarru’ wa Tamalluq – Humility and Begging. Amir Khusran prayed to Allah: “I am dying, come and let me live!”
That is the First Stage. The Second Stage is Sadaqa – Sincerity. It has five phases. The first is ‘Taking in the Troubles of Dunya as Gifts from the Beloved’. Here you see this turning upside down of the ‘Arifin who see everything differently from all the other human beings. The Muslim who has knowledge sees things differently. That is that he takes the troubles of Dunya as gifts from the Beloved. In other words, he is not separating, he is not making a duality, he is not seeing a world of darkness and a world of light as though they were contrasts. He sees that all is from the Divine Lord.
The second phase is Ghayra – Jealousy. When I went to visit Shaykh Ibn al-Mashish in the Rif Mountains, my Shaykh asked me where I had been and I told him, and he said, “Shaykh Ibn al-Mashish had a very high station with Allah. It was Ghayra. He was jealous! Once he was making du’a in his cave,” which was at the very top of the mountain and then you go down the side of the mountain where there is a cave where he had his Khalwa, “and a Faqir had climbed up the mountain to see him and he heard him making du’a and thought, ‘If I listen to what he is saying I shall learn something!’ but he was very shocked because as he got to the cave he heard Shaykh Ibn al-Mashish saying, ‘O Allah, please make everybody go off the Sirat al-Mustaqim so that there is just You and me!’” This is called Ghayra, Jealousy – where the Love becomes so beyond the person’s being.
The third phase is Ishtiaq – Ardour. That is when the Faqir begins to find in the Diwans a corroboration of something he is already beginning to feel which is: “What is life without You?” This is the beginning of the real Faqir: “Allah, I cannot live without Your Presence.”
The fourth phase is Dhikri Mahbub – Dhikr of the Beloved. Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “A man lies hidden under his tongue.” So the tongue of the ‘Arif is supple with the Name of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. “Hidden under the tongue” means the dhikr which is done by the ‘Arif because he is remembering Allah in every situation.
The fifth phase is Tahayyur – Astonishment. Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, made this du’a:
“Oh Lord, increase me in astonishment about You.”
The Third Stage is Mawadda – Friendship. We shall go to the Qur’an and look at Surat al-Mumtahana (60:7):
It may well be that Allah will restore the love between you
and those of them who are now your enemies.
Allah is All-Powerful.
Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
The mark of this Muwadda is the Agitation of the Heart – the Hijan al-Qalb, and it has five phases:
The first phase is Niyaha wa Idtirar – Bewailing and Agitation. The first aspect of this, the bewailing, is what you see many times in the circle of Dhikr: a man dissolving into tears. It is a Fatihah, it is a spiritual opening which makes him weep.
The second phase is The Shedding of Tears. Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, prayed to Allah, “Bless us with a weeping eye.” So the weeping eye is again making possible lights to manifest in the heart.
The third phase is Hasra – Regret. It is looking on the past as wasted in its absence of the Beloved. Yet even that throws you into deeper confusion because you know that without that, the Path would not have led you to the present. So you know that it was a gift from Allah, because the things which kept you from Allah are also those things which brought you to the Path of Allah. Again, you begin to recognise Allah’s Presence in every situation.
The fourth phase is Fikri Mahbub – Contemplating the Beloved. In the Diwan of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, rahimahullah, you will find the Qasida entitled Reflection:
Reflect upon the beauty of the way in which both the land and sea are made,
and contemplate the Attributes of Allah outwardly and secretly.
The greatest evidence of the limitless perfections of Allah
can be found both deep within the self and on the distant horizon.
If you were to reflect on physical bodies and their marvellous forms
and how they are arranged with great precision, like a string of pearls,
And if you were to reflect on the secrets of the tongue and its capacity for speech,
and how it articulates and conveys what you conceal in your breast,
And if you were to reflect on the secrets of all the limbs
and how easily they are subject to the heart’s command,
And if you were to reflect on how the hearts are moved to obey Allah
and how at other times they move darkly to disobedience,
And if you were to reflect on the earth and the diversity of its plants
and the great varieties of smooth and rugged land in it,
And if you were to reflect on the secrets of the oceans and all their fish,
and their endless waves held back by an unconquerable barrier,
And if you were to reflect on the secrets of the many winds
and how they bring the mist, fog and clouds which release the rain,
And if you were to reflect on all the secrets of the heavens –
the Throne and the Footstool and the spirit sent by the Command –
Then you would accept the reality of Tawhid with all your being,
and you would turn away from illusions, uncertainty and otherness,
And you would say, “My God, You are my desire, my goal
and my impregnable fortress against evil, injustice and deceit.
You are the One I hope will provide for all my needs,
and You are the One Who rescues us from all evil and wickedness.
You are the Compassionate, the One Who answers all who call on You.
And you are the One Who enriches the poverty of the Faqir.
It is to You, O Exalted, that I have raised all my request,
so swiftly bring me the Opening, the rescue and the secret, O my God.”
By the rank of the one in whom we hope on the day of distress and grief
– that terrible day when people come to the Place of Gathering –
May Allah’s blessings be upon him as long as there is an ‘Arif
who reflects on the lights of His Essence in every manifestation,
And upon his family and Companions
and everyone who follows his excellent Sunna in all its prohibitions and commands.
We remember of course that Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, spoke about an hour of Fikr, of contemplation, of reflection, being better than 60 years of ‘Ibada.
The fifth phase of Muwadda, of this Friendship with Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, is the Muraqabat al-Mahbub – Watching of the Beloved. It is the beginning of the Sufi in his calling on Allah, he is beginning to watch. That is in order to pass from his watching to his recognition, to his gnosis that he is watched.
Allah is with me, Allah sees me, Allah is the Witness of my acts.
We shall stop here, and continue next week, inshallah.