Does anyone think that the ocean is only what appears on its surface?  By observing
    its hue and motion the keen eye may perceive indications of that ocean's
    unfathomable depth.  The Lord's mercy and compassion is an Ocean with no shore,
    providing endlessly varied vistas for those who sail its surface; but the greatest
    wonderment and fulfillment is reserved for those "creatures of the sea" for whom that
    mercy has become their own medium.

    The Lord beckons us through a Divine love and attraction which has been implanted
    in our hearts, a love that may be understood and felt consciously as Divine by some
    and only indirectly as love for His creatures or creation by others.  In either case the
    pull of our hearstrings draws us to those Mercy Oceans, just as our physical bodies
    feel drawn to a warm and gentle sea.

    By means of the revelation of Holy Books and through the example set by Prophets
    and Saints, all human beings have been brought in contact with those Oceans.  For
    humankind at large, these revelations serve as vessels, or as “instruction manuals” for
    building and maintaining vessels that ply those most spacious seas, but for those most
    spacious seas, but for those who have the means to read between the lines, a great
    revelation emerges: that we are of that sea, that our place, our home is in the depths
    of that sea, not on its surface.

    The Holy Qur'an is an eminently unambiguous scripture, full of clear guidance for
    mankind at large, but there is much more contained in it than immediately meets the
    untrained eye.  The discrimination to see into its depths is not only a matter of
    training, however, but a bestowal attainable only through sincerity and faith.  There
    are endless levels of knowledge and wisdom through the depths of the Holy Qura'n,
    as its states:

    “You shall surely ride stage after stage”

    and the attainment of each stage imparts great benefit, not only for the one who has
    attained it but also for those around him, for mankind and for all creation.

    One may ask, “To what ends so many hidden meanings?”  Understanding these
    meanings is the key to deriving their “wisdom essence”, and it is that essence that is
    an inexhaustible fountain, and elixir of eternal life.  We may summarize the essence of
    the wisdom our Lord seeks to impart unto us through all His revelations in one word:
    Unity.

    The dominating theme of the Holy Qur’an is the Uniqueness and Incomparability of
    Allah, and the weakness and utter dependence of all creatures upon Him.  By thus
    stressing His omnipotence and our powerlessness He reminds us of our affinity with all
    creatures, and bestows upon us the humble but honorable cloak of servant hood.  
    Realize that you are no better than anyone else and that self-improvement may be
    attained through serving Allah and His servants, and you will have grasped the tools
    with which to shatter your idol of conceit, your egoism.  Having attained humility, the
    tribulations of life will propel you towards your goal, as they are a constant reminder of
    our weakness, and are received, if not with thankfulness, at least with patience, in the
    knowledge that they are drawing us ever closer to ultimate Unity.

    Our journey towards that goal first brings us away from the illusion of multiplicity, the
    impenetrable veil of the common man.  That is the vision of endless diversity, of
    apparently independent existences of billions of creatures each striving to improve its
    own condition and exert its willpower.  The next stage is the realization of Allah’s
    omnipotence and our weakness.  This realization inspires awe in the face of the
    majesty and might of Allah (Jalal), and one feels himself a most humble servant of a
    Most Transcendent Lord.  Beyond this is the stage of intimacy (uns) at which the
    immanence of the Lord is perceived:

    “And I am closer to man than his jugular vein”

    At this stage one perceives His aspects of love and beauty (Jamal).  But the ultimate
    goal is beyond even the intimacy of “I and Thou”, a Unity beyond duality, for He is All
    in All.  That is the meaning of, “There is no God but He”.  As long as we cling to the
    separateness of our physical and spiritual existence, we are far from our goal.  Why
    do we fear death? Because we are afraid of being non-existent; that is why the soul
    and body, which enable each other to exist in this realm, cling to each other so
    tenaciously.  We may have to pay a high price to remain alive, but yet do we endure.

    All of God’s Prophets had the same mission: to call people to Divine existence in the
    Lord and to a lifestyle conducive to the attainment of that end.  What exactly does
    such a lifestyle entail, and what are its implications? Once the idol of egoism is
    shattered, fulfillment is no longer found in self aggrandizement.  The emphasis shifts
    to seeking truth, purity and peace, to acquiring blessed attributes in the time allotted
    to us for preparing ourselves for that longed-for reunion.  Worldly cravings and
    desires are drastically reduced, and the pursuit of a decent livelihood to support a
    simple lifestyle replaces voracious egoistic striving.

    Rich and powerful people were often at the forefront of opposition to the Prophets, as,
    lacking the spiritual training that might have enabled them to handle power and wealth
    with detachment, they saw their power or their wealth as the essence and affirmation
    of their existence – and so vehemently opposed any change in the status quo. The
    poor and powerless were generally more receptive as they did not feel so threatened
    by the advent of a new spiritually oriented order.  Certainly they also believed that
    money and power were the criteria of existence, but they figured, “We have nothing
    and are nothing anyway, so what do we have to lose by going and listening in?”  
    Then, when the Prophets called them to the Lord they could easily renounce
    attachment to worldly values, and said, “We have left behind everything but
    ourselves.  As for those who really meant what they said, from the poor who
    renounced little and from the rich who had to struggle hard to renounce worldliness,
    the essence of the message was then imparted: “Now, leave yourselves behind and
    approach the Ocean of Unity”.

    Abu Yazid al-Bistami (one of the greatest Masters of the Khwajagan line) approached
    the Divine Presence and “knocked on the gate”.  He was asked, “Who is there?” “I
    have come, Oh my Lord”, replied Abu Yazid.  He was told: “There isn’t any place here
    for two.  Leave your ego behind and come”.  When Abu Yazid once again approached
    the Divine Presence and was asked who it was, he said: “You, oh Lord”.  

    Once Abu Yazid was asked about acts of worship and devotion of two different
    categories: those indicated by the example of the Holy Prophet – Sunnah – and those
    made obligatory through Divine Revelation – Fard. He said: “Sunnah is the
    abandonment of worldliness and Fard is the abandonment of all but He Alone”.  So
    many people claim to follow the Sunnah but their hearts are awash in love of worldly
    pomp.  As for what is obligatory, Fard (usually understood as the minimum acceptable
    level of religious observance), Abu Yazid has penetrated to the heart of the matter, as
    that total surrender is the ends to which all the means (acts of worship) are really
    directed.  Obligatory, also, because at the time of death all must leave behind
    everything besides Him, whether they are ready or not.

    The Lord is beckoning us to enter that Ocean of Unity while we are yet in this life, to
    dissolve as sugar dissolves in tea.  When the sugar dissolves you can no longer say,
    “This is sugar and that is tea”.  Our Lord’s invitation to join in His Unity is always
    extended, and it is our fate to suffer until we respond to that invitation.  As long as we
    cling to our claim of autonomy we will have to bear the brunt of the hard lessons that
    this world has to offer us – and cry out in pain.  Let go and nothing can harm you.

    When Abdul Qadir Jilani used to address his followers his individuality would
    sometimes become completely veiled by a cloak of Divine attributes or of Prophetic
    attributes.  When he was in such a state the Divine would manifest through him, and
    his speech would become awe-inspiring, but to those who had not yet attained a
    sufficiently high station, very disturbing and even shocking.

    Perfection may only be understood by perfectly complete individuals, and not at all by
    the unregenerate man.  As for those on the way of Truth, they understand perfection
    in accordance with their respective levels of development, and the followers of Abdul
    Qadir Jilani were not on a level to be able to receive those outpourings.

    When Jilani came to himself his followers informed him of the nature of his utterances
    while in that state of absence from himself.  Jilani then told them: “Oh my sons, if it is
    true that I say things contrary to the Shariah (Divine Law), then you must smite me
    with your swords”.  What Jilani meant by “contrary to the Shariah” meant, in fact,
    “contrary to your understanding of the Shariah”, as people are not all on the same
    level of understanding Shariah.

    At the next gathering Jilani again said something belonging to the realm of the
    knowledge of Allah Almighty.  Then, in accordance with the Sheik’s instructions the
    followers drew their swords and began to strike – but their swords passed through the
    Sheik’s figure as readily as they would pass through thin air.  They slashed and
    slashed, but it was as if his body was a mirage.

    When Jilani came to himself again his followers told him: “Oh our Master, you again
    spoke such words:.  “What did you do about it?”  “As you instructed us, we struck you
    with our swords, but they passed through you as through thin air”.  “Then I must not
    have been there.  There was no more Jilani to be cut by your swords.  Jilani was
    dissolved in the oneness of the Lord, Almighty Allah.  It was He alone speaking to you”.

    Certainly some people will raise objections, saying that there is no scriptural evidence
    for the contention that Allah may speak through an intermediary other than a
    Prophet.  Both the Qur’an and the Torah mention that Allah spoke to Moses through a
    burning bush, and every believer accepts that.  In your opinion, which is a more noble
    vessel for Divine Light, a more noble instrument for Divine Wisdom, bush or man? Is
    man or bush the “crown of creation”?  Are there any grounds upon which to reject this
    point?

    When a person attains the station of Unity he leaves behind his own existence and is
    admitted o the Lord’s existence, so that Divine Oneness overtakes him: you may see
    him as Jilani, but he is not Jilani.

    We all stagger under the weight of the burden of this life, but we bear that burden only
    because we have not set it down. Some foolish people are not satisfied with carrying
    only their own loads but envy the loads of others. The result is this that as long as you
    carry that weight of the ego so many others attack you, and you are pierced by arrows
    and spears, slashed by swords of envy and enmity. Attaining the gate of Oneness with
    the Almighty is the only way to be released from the sufferings of this world, and all of
    God's Prophets have imparted methods for attaining this goal. However, man's
    resistance is very great, and, generally the larger our share of worldly fortune the
    tighter do we grasp it.

    Once a Grandsheikh was addressing his followers from the pulpit of a mosque.  He
    recited a verse of the Holy Qur’an and explained it a little.  Then he said: “This
    explanation will help everyone here understand this verse on a level corresponding to
    his attainment, but its real meaning is not for you.  You can’t understand what I am
    saying. There is only one person in attendance who has been able to appreciate the
    deep meaning of this discourse – and he is hiding behind a pillar wearing a veil.  My
    words have been directed to that person-not to you-understand this, and do not think
    of yourselves as the suitable receptacles of every piece of precious wisdom.  If you
    hear something from me that you understand, then fine and well, make good use of it
    on your way, but if you hear something you do not understand, be careful not to reject
    it.  Whenever that occurs just hold your peace and be humble enough to accept that it
    may have been directed to someone else in the audience, someone who has attained
    a higher potential of understanding than you have”.  Then that Grandsheikh
    proceeded to another even deeper level of meaning of that verse of the Quran, and
    said " Now this is even beyond the level of the person behind that piller"

    We all stagger under the weight of the burden of this life, but we bear that burden only
    because we have not set it down.  Some foolish people are not satisfied with carrying
    only their own loads but envy the loads of others.  The result of this that as long as
    you carry that weight of the ego so many others attack you, and you are pierced by
    arrows and spears, slashed by swords of envy and enmity.  Attaining the gate of
    Oneness with the Almighty is the only way to be released from the sufferings of this
    world, and all of Allah?s Prophets have imparted methods for attaining this goal.  
    However, man?s resistance is very great, and, generally the larger our share of
    worldly fortune the tighter do we grasp it.

    That is one of the main, reasons why Divinely Revealed Law, throughout the ages,
    has required the rich to give charity to the poor. Besides the obvious benefits of
    relieving the poverty of the recipient and keeping envy away from the threshold of the
    donor, the charity or poor-due trains the well-to-do person to renounce some part of
    his wealth, and thus to purify it and himself. This is why the poor-due is called Zakat,
    or purification. Purification from what? From our attachment to separate existence.

    Shayban ar-Rai was a simple shepherd, and also one of the great Sufi saints of the
    early Islamic era. He lived during the times when the four renowned Imams of the
    Sunni schools of canon law were busy compiling the canon of their respective schools.
    One of those great scholars, Imam Shafii, considered Shayban ar-Rai to be his
    spiritual mentor.

    Another of the four great Imams, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, being skeptical of such an
    illiterate Shaykh, decided to ask him a very elementary question to ascertain his level
    of knowledge. Imam Shafii warned him: "Beware of thinking of him as a simpleton, for if
    you ask him a question with that preconceived notion, he will understand your hidden
    intention and put you to shame."

    Imam Ahmad was, however, determined to pursue his course, so he asked him: "What
    is the rate of Zakat that all non - indigent Muslims must pay to the poor?". "Which
    Zakat are you inquiring about--your Zakat or ours? According to your variety of
    knowledge or according to our way?" Surprised and always suspicious of heresy,
    Imam Ahmad asked: "What? Do you claim that there are two rates of Zakat in Shariah
    (Divine Law)? I would like to know what they are, and on what evidence you base your
    claim". "According to Shariah as it applies to you and to those who are on your way, it
    is incumbent upon every person to give away one fortieth of his gold, silver, livestock
    and goods to the poor. According to the Shariah, as it applies to His slaves, the slave
    and all he possesses belong to the Master. So, on our way, from every forty, forty is
    for our Lord and nothing for us".


    Then Imam Ahmad asked him: “On what authority do you base this? – Who is your
    Imam, and what is your chain of transmission back to the Prophet?”  “Our Imam is Abu
    Bakr as-Siddiq (the first Khalipha of Islam): he gave all his wealth for the sake of his
    Lord”.

    By thus requiring people to relinquish at least one-fortieth of their wealth every year,
    people are given a start on the path of renunciation – and renouncing even a few
    possessions is a struggle for man, who is born into this world with clenched fists, but
    must leave it open-handed.  Nothing that you can collect from this world’s treasures
    will enable you to abide in it forever. So, open your hands while they are yet warm; this
    is better for your soul, for the practice of open-handedness will train you to lay your
    existence down in the sublime Oneness of Allah.

    That is the highest level of Goodness in this world, and He Allah Almighty promises a
    bountiful recompense:

    “Shall the recompense of goodness be other than goodness?”

    The Lord Almighty will accept your existence and give of Himself.  That is the meaning
    of “Fanafillah” (annihilation in Allah) and Baqabillah (permanence in Allah): real
    existence in the Ocean of Unity of Allah Almighty.  No one can anticipate the
    boundlessness of that pleasure – may Allah grant us that pleasure! But it is expensive.



                                                             The End                                               

                                                             








THE CONCEPT OF ALLAH

and

THE OCEANS OF UNITY
Sheikh Nazim
Sultan ul Awliya Muhiyuddin Abdul Qadir Jilani's annihilation in the Divine
Presence