English translation of Maktubat Imam Rabbani (selective 100) | Mujaddid Alf sani | Sheikh Ahmad sirhindi

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How not to forget Allahu ta'ala even for a moment?

This letter, written as a response to Molla Hasan Kishmiri, explains how not to forget Allahu ta'ala for a moment and that He will not be forgotten even while one is asleep, or when one is unconscious.

We were honored with reading your precious letter. Some of the great ones of this way informed us that they were aware of Allahu ta'ala every moment, and that they remembered Him every moment even while asleep. You ask how this is so. Respected Sir! For explaining this, it is necessary to write down 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 honored than an angel. Through His mercy and blessing, Allahu ta'ala united the soul with this insensible, unmoving, good-for-nothing, dark body. Allahu ta'ala, who has united the light of the soul with a dark body and who keeps the soul, which is unsubstantial and without time and place, with the body, which is made of matter, is very 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 quite opposite to each other, Allahu ta'ala 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'an al-karim 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 Surat-u-Wat-teen. 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 [see article 30.], 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 ammara, as if it became the nafs-i ammara. 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 color of whatever it unites with. Because it forgot about itself, it forgot its knowledge of Allahu ta'ala, which it had had formerly when it was in its own world, in its own grade. It became ignorant and unaware. Like the nafs, it darkened with the darkness of ignorance. Since Allahu ta'ala is very merciful, He sent prophets 'alaihi-s-salatu wattaslimat', 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 its face 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 it happiness.

It is understood from these words of ours that the soul has united with the nafs, and, even, that it has become the nafs, 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 Allahu ta'ala instead of it, and if it, getting rid of the love for a creature like itself, falls in love with the Real Eternal, who exists endlessly, and becomes beside itself with this love, the unawareness and ignorance of the outside, that is the nafs, will not infect the inside, that is, the soul. It will not forget Allahu ta'ala 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 different 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 Allahu ta'ala, he is made to return to this world, and, through his honored and blessed being, the world is rescued from the darkness and ignorance of the nafs. Such a blessed person lives among the people. Outwardly, he is like everybody. But his soul is not dependent upon anything; its sole companion is his knowledge of and love for Allahu ta'ala. He has been returned to this world despite his reluctance. By looking at his appearance, such a high person, who has attained haqiqat, may be thought of as having forgotten Allahu ta'ala and having ben 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, Allahu ta'ala wants and likes this state. But others' fondness and interest concern themselves; they embrace the world. Allahu ta'ala does not consent to 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 Allahu ta'ala. 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 [see articles 35 and 40] explained the grade of guidance differently. Most of hem 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. Allahu ta'ala knows the truth of everything. Sayyid-ul-taifa Junaid-i Baghdadi's 'quddisa sirruh' word: "Reaching the end is 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 hadith "My two eyes sleep, but my heart does not sleep" does not communicate a continuous attachment and awareness concerning Allahu ta'ala. 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 is not suitable for his rank of prophethood for him to forget about his Ummat for even a moment. Likewise, the hadith "I have such private times with Allahu ta'ala 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 Allahu ta'ala manifests Himself to him. He does not forget about creatures and looks 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 and solving the problems of the people. This is another difference between those who have reached the end and then come back and those who are still at the beginning, for those who are at the beginning are behind the veils. As for those who have come back, the veils have been lifted up from in front of them. May Allahu ta'ala give salvation to you and to those on the righteous way! Amin.