My Grandsheikh Abdullah, may Allah bless him, said that the Holy Prophet
    Muhammad (sal) never gained any rank through his devotions or actions.  As a proof
    of this, Grandsheikh quoted a tradition (Hadith) of the Holy Prophet (sal): “Oh Allah,
    don’t leave me to my works, my actions, my devotions even for the time it takes to
    blink an eye or less than that.”  This hadith indicates that the Prophet (sal) never
    depended on his own works and devotions, but always hoped for Allah’s causeless
    mercy, and that his rank was not a result of any actions on his part.  Grandsheikh
    added: “Even if Allah Almighty was going to recompense the Prophet (sal) for his
    devotions, the Prophet (sal) would not accept that.  How could he, the Prophet (sal),
    accept a payment when even members of his Nation (Ummah) of lesser rank than him
    – Saints and sincere believers – would never accept any payment or recompense for
    their acts of worship; in fact, no real believer would accept anything, because he is
    worshipping purely to gain his Lord’s pleasure.”

    Grandsheikh says that Allah Almighty has given to each person a nature suitable for
    a certain rank (Fitra).  For example, you have a competence or aptitude (Ahliyya) for
    the Naqshabandi Way; no one can in any way change or alter that competence – it
    has to appear.  Just as different seeds have different unalterable natures hidden
    within them, so each son of Adam has a distinct aptitude granted to him by his Lord,
    granted according to the Divine Will alone, and at all times independent of our actions
    and devotions.  Sooner or later everyone’s aptitude must appear; don’t be hopeless
    because those qualities may now yet be hidden, for you must know that at any time
    Allah Almighty decrees, those qualities will appear and that appearance will not be
    connected in any way to our actions or devotions, but will be purely a grant from Him,
    the Almighty.  These words lead us to new horizons of understanding and open up
    vast areas of inner wisdom to explore – these good tidings should fill us with
    contentment.

    Shah Naqshaband said: “In our view, one’s having the competence for this Tariqat is
    more important a fact than his being a muslim or believer.”  Why? – Because that
    capability which Allah Almighty has granted us is what is important, then, with our
    actions Islam and Iman will appear.  But that secret capability or aptitude from Allah
    Almighty is most important.

    You may do all the good actions asked of you by Islam and Iman, but that capability
    which you have been granted is more important to Allah; therefore, the Prophet’s (sal)
    hadith says: “Allah is not looking to our outward actions, but to our hearts.”  With His
    looking to our hearts, that worthy – nature is going to be ever more inundated with
    Divine Lights – more beautiful and complete.  But we are merely doing good actions
    with our bodies, while the heart and its movements in relation to its Lord are much
    more important.

    The importance of that worthy-nature and of our realizing it is expressed in  the
    following story:  Once the Holy Prophet (sal) was addressing his companions after the
    night time prayer (Isha) saying: “Oh my companions, it is the same for every one of
    you whether he prays and does good actions or not, because the ranks that Allah
    Almighty has granted to you are neither going to decrease or increase – the ink of
    pre-destiny has dried, and what He has granted you must reach you – no more and
    no less – no matter what you do.”

    What was the reply of the companions?  - They said : “Oh Prophet, if it is like that,
    why the do we tire ourselves out and inflict suffering upon ourselves with all these
    devotions and good actions?  Why do we get up on cold nights and come to the
    mosque from far distances in the darkness?  Why do we forsake our wives’ loving
    embraces every morning to come here?  From now on we shall not come here so
    early to pray but shall remain with our wives in hot beds; this is very good news for
    us.”  The Prophet (sal) replied: “You are free to do as you like; come or don’t come –
    no one is forcing you.”

    That night they left the mosque with the intention of staying comfortable in their beds
    the next morning.  When the last part of the night had begun to show signs of giving
    way to the oncoming dawn, Bilal, the Prophet’s (sal) Muezzin, began to recite
    devotional poetry from the minaret, as was his habit in the morning before calling for
    the prayer (Adhan), in order to awaken people in ample time for coming to the
    mosque.  On this particular morning, as soon as he started reciting, all of the
    companions awoke with a start.  They said to themselves, “We told the Prophet (sal)
    that we won’t be coming this morning; we must remain in our beds.”  However, in spite
    of themselves, they threw aside their blankets, sprang from their beds, made
    ablutions (Wudu) and hurried off to the prayer.

    When the Prophet (sal) entered the mosque that morning, he looked around and saw
    that it was full of worshippers, then he said: “Oh people, oh my companions, you
    intended something last night, and were firm in your resolve – what happened to you
    that made you come when you said that you wouldn’t?”  They replied: “We swear to
    Allah that when we heard the call to prayer, our beds became like thornbushes or as
    beds of nails, and lying in them was like lying on fire – we couldn’t remain there even
    for one moment, so we jumped out and hastened to answer the call to prayer.”

    The Prophet, Peace be Upon Him, then said: “Every creature may find ease only in
    behaving according to his particular competence (Ahliyya).  It is that ahliyya, that
    worthy-nature which Allah put in your hearts that made you move from your beds
    despite the intention to the contrary which you made last night.  Everyone is born with
    the nature of Islam (Fitra), and in his deepest heart is always yearning to re-discover
    that nature; this secret is inside every son of Adam, and this is what made you get up.”

    For these reasons, the Prophet (sal) was in no way afraid that his companions would
    really leave worship because of having learned those truths.  Also, inheritors of the
    Prophet (sal) are not afraid to reveal some truths to their followers, because that
    hidden nature which Allah put in their hearts will make them do, make them come
    despite their desires.  

    Grandsheikh also says that if the Prophet (sal) declared that his worshipping was as
    nothing and that he never could depend upon it – how can we depend upon our
    worship?  If two prostrations of the Prophet’s (sal) devotions were put in a scale and
    weighed up against the combined devotions of the Nations, his two prostrations would
    be heavier; and if his declaring the Unity of Allah once (La ilaha illa’llah) was weighed
    up against the sins of all the sons of Adam, it would destroy all of those sins.  From
    this you can understand what the power and rank of our Prophet (sal) is in the Divine
    Presence.

    Neither our Prophet (sal) nor any other Prophet is in need of sacrificing himself in the
    way the Christians claim that Jesus Christ made himself a sacrificial lamb for Allah or
    for the sake of his Nation:  this is a shameful thing to say.  It is enough to say once ‘
    La ilaha illa’llah’, no need for human sacrifice.  When Allah Almighty, desiring to try
    His servant, ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son, at the last moment, He withdrew His
    order for the slaughter and sent a ram down from the Heavens instead.  So how is He
    going to make Jesus Christ a lamb, an offering for the sins of the world?  This is a
    very ugly and unfounded claim.

    The Last Prophet (sal) and all Prophets before him were given Divine Powers with
    which to guide people to the straight path – no need for them to be lambs for Nations.

    Despite the high value of our Prophet’s (sal) devotions, he does not depend upon
    them and awaits no payment for them from Allah, but he performs them only for Allah’
    s good pleasure – that is his goal.  Everyone may ask at this, “What use is our
    worshipping, our acting?”  No one can do any worship that is suitable for our Majestic
    Lord.  No one can worship his Lord as He deserves to be worshipped – beside His
    Greatness all is as nothing – but we have been ordered, and so we are carrying out
    those orders.

    Then Grandsheikh quoted Sayyidina Ali, who said regarding ladies: “Nothing good
    comes from them, but no one can live without them.”  Ali’s wife, the Prophet’s (sal)
    daughter Fatima, said to Ali: “We are like roses, from time to time you must smell
    them, and otherwise you are useless.”  “Similarly,” says Grandsheikh, “nothing is
    coming from our worship – it is useless – useless, that is, for giving adequate respect
    to our Majestic Lord; it is impossible to give absolute respect with such worshiping, but
    as we have been ordered, so we must do and whether useless or not, we cannot
    depend upon it”.

    This is a reality that one must be aware of, and when you understand this point it will
    prevent you from becoming proud of your devotions, and that is very important, as
    whoever becomes proud of his devotions falls down, like Satan.  The very worst thing
    for a servant is to look at himself and say: “Oh, how good I am, I am such an obedient
    servant of my Lord!” and to look at others, saying: “Look at them, they don’t do any
    worshipping, but we do!”

    We have been ordered to build ladders to the moon – builders of skyscrapers are
    puffed up with pride over their accomplishments, and look down with disdain on the
    people on the ground, saying : “Oh you lazy people, we have already reached to the
    sky while you are still like miserable little ants on the ground.”  They may say this, but
    no matter how high they build their skyscrapers, even if they pile stone upon stone
    eternally, they will never reach the moon in that way – it is impossible.  What is
    important is to listen to the orders of Allah Almighty and to obey them as best we can,
    and although we will never reach the moon, perhaps we may be better than one who
    doesn’t try, because we carry out orders, and it is better to try even if we know that
    ultimate success is impossible to attain in this manner – we must do it out of respect
    for the Lord.  In every religion, every Prophet came to teach us this point.
THE HIDDEN APTITUDES

and its

APPEARANCE IN TIME
Sheikh Nazim