Every time I address people I silently make this supplication, as I know that only he who
himself understands can teach people anything useful. A visitor recently told me about a
spiritual teacher whose lectures and writings were so difficult that only trained intellectuals
could make sense of what he was saying. It is not a sign of a man’s understanding that his
teachings be incomprehensible; a man of understanding will always try to make himself well
understood by using clear and straightforward speech, adjusting to the level of his audience,
and he will try to address as broad an audience as possible, otherwise his words will be
scattered with the winds.
Even Allah Almighty, the Lord of all creatures, the Master of existence, in all His Glory and
Greatness condescends to the level of His creatures. This is called “Tanazzalat Subbani” or,
as close as it can be translated, “the Condescension of Glory” (or “the Condescension of the
Glorious One”). You may find Him Almighty with His creatures on every level.
If He was not with an ant, and knew not the conditions in which that ant lives and what are
its needs, He could not, by definition be the Lord of that ant. He, the Lord of all, in His
knowledge, is even with microscopic creatures; so that about mankind, the most
distinguished of His creatures, is it saying too much to say that He is with us? “Does the
Creator not know what He created?” asks the Lord, that we may understand His
Omniscience, and that being the Lord of all creation does not detract from His being with
each individual creature.
The Holy Prophets and their Inheritors in every age have been endowed with knowledge of
Divine Realities which is hidden from the rest of humanity, and it is their main duty to make
these realities comprehensible to mankind in general, and to individual people in whatever
way possible, in accordance with the respective levels and capabilities of those people. As
the teachers of humanity they have been granted the ability to communicate in this manner:
to speak directly to people’s hearts.
This they have been granted from the Attributes of their Lord. But only Prophets and their
true inheritors may find such flexibility available to them; for others it is very difficult to
address anyone other than those who share with them a similar background and manner of
perception. But Divine Teachers may be to every people what they need, may say what
they need to hear; that is why people of varying backgrounds and ranks in life may all find
peace with the same man and follow him.
A Concorde could never land on the roof of this building, but a helicopter could. Most
scholars are like Concords: so proud of their immense wingspans, streamlined form and
speed. Only a few statesmen and tycoons – men and women of distinction and endowed
with great wealth – may enter and ride Concords. So scholars may speak and write for the
appreciation of other scholars. Concords fly at tremendous speeds and require huge
runways at international airports to land, but a helicopter can land anywhere, ever sometimes
at sea, and can always hover in mid – air while lowering a lifeline to people trapped by a
fire. So Divine Teachers are accessible to everyone in every situation. Whereas Concords
might even crash in a place where only helicopters can reach to rescue the survivors.
Therefore, I am not leaving them on the tops of Himalaya Mountains, but bringing them to
Seekers of truth must look for those qualities in a teacher who purports to be addressing
subjects related to the Divine. Otherwise they will be pursuing useless studies, and,
according to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sal), a sign of a person’s perfection in Islam is
his abandonment of useless activities (“that which doesn’t concern him”).
Our guest mentioned that this scholar was addressing the topics of “Fana and Baqa”, or
“Annihilation and Permanence in the Divine”. I think that no one except the one who have
arrived at these Stations is qualified to speak of them, otherwise his description will be like
that of a person who has never tasted honey trying to describe its taste from what he has
read about it to others who have been deprived of honey. Or it will be like asking a little boy
about the pleasures of a honeymoon… useless.
These topics are Oceans. When you melt, dissolving in the Unity Ocean of Allah Almighty,
then you may understand the meaning of “Fani –fillah” (Annihilation in Allah). When you
abandon your position as a being in existence, when you become as a drop of rain falling
from the sky and are immersed and united in that Ocean of Divine Unity, then no one can
ask where that drop has gone: the drop has become an Ocean.
As long as the drop is falling, it continues to say: “I am something”, but when it reaches that
Ocean, it looks and says: “Where am I? I am finished. I am with Him. I am here, but not
here; only He is here, but I am now with Him. I am in His Ocean. I feel this, but no more
can it be said that I am a drop: this drop has become an Ocean”. That is only a very simple
description of Annihilation in Allah.
“Baqa” or Permanence is to be with Him always. In such a Station your personality does
not appear; what appears is only Divine Existence. You have been dressed in Divine Unity.
That is the “Station of Unity”, “Maqam at Tawhid”. What Baqa means is that you will never
lose sight, hearing, feeling, knowing, understanding – never, but they will be without limits.
We must try to attain these Stations, but the Way is difficult and requires severe training.
One of the aspects of that training is to try and see everything as proceeding from Him
alone. This is the sixth pillar of faith in Islam: The belief that everything that happens in this
world, the good and the bad alike, are from God. This is referred to as “Tawhid al Af’al” or
“The Unity of Actions”. The way to begin to realize this point is to remember the source of
all events, Allah Almighty, when events occur, and not to occupy one’s self with blaming or
lauding those who are not really the causes of event, only the instruments of their
occurrence. This means that if Ahmed comes and gives you a pound coin and then Fulan
comes and slaps you and takes it away, you don’t think of Ahmed as the giver of the
money, nor of Fulan as a thief. If you think like this you have fallen from that high level of
faith. You must perceive the hand of Allah behind both hands – that which giveth and that
which taketh away – as He is the creator of the actions of people.
When someone is generous or kind to you, you must remember that it was your Lord who
sent him with that favor, and you must thank your Lord. But at the same time you are going
to say: “Thank you” to that person, as without giving thanks to the carrier of that blessing
your thanks to its origin is not going to be complete. Therefore the Holy Prophet
Muhammad (sal) said: “Who thanks not people thanks not Allah”. Our Prophet Muhammad
(sal), is advising us strongly that we should not allow our vision of unity to distract us from
perfecting our politeness with our fellow men. But you are not forgetting that under any
circumstances. And when you see that Ahmed has filled your hands with gold, you must
say to him: “Oh Sheikh Ahmed, thank you so much! And firstly thanks to your Lord, who
sent you with favors for me, and thank you for faithfully delivering what was entrusted to
And when that robber Fulan comes, hits you and takes all the money, don’t be angry with
him! Yes, the Divine Law, the Shariah, permits you to retrieve that money if you can, and
prescribes a punishment to be meted out by the society as well, but if you are on the way of
Unity, then you must regard that action as coming to you from Allah Almighty too. He
Alone sent that man to rob you, because the Creator of every action is only One: Allah
It is not possible for all people to aspire to this high level of faith in which Allah’s Hand is
seen behind every event, this is why Allah Almighty in one verse of the Holy Quran,
condones “a life for a life” in the case of murder, and goes on to call those who are capable
of it to “turning the other cheek”. These are the levels, respectively, of Shariah, the Law,
and Tariqa, the Path. Based on this verse, therefore, the Islamic Law concerning murder is
balanced, making concession for the normal human feelings for vengeance in the face of
such an abominable crime. Islam allows for the execution of the duly convicted murderer,
and in this way assuages the feelings of the close relatives, thus preventing extended blood
feuds. The law also allows for the payment of blood money in lieu of execution, to be paid
to the victim’s close relatives. Lastly the verse calls those who are seeking the highest level
of faith and unity of vision to forgiveness, saying: “And whoso forgives and promotes
understanding, his reward is incumbent on his Lord”.
What Allah is saying to seekers of absolute truth is: “Now forgive him, because I sent him to
do that action”. Then you realize that, in reality, there is no question of guilt nor need for
revenge. But that is not the common level. That is the level to be striven for, and it is
beyond us to forgive in such a manner because our egos are like volcanoes.
Now people may be very polite in their everyday dealings, as long as everyone behaves in
accordance with their expectations and everything falls into place according to plan; but
should, God forbid, the smallest thing go wrong – for example a small error in driving, even
one that causes no accident – for such a small reason one may hear the ugliest obscenities
pour from their mouths like a lava eruption. That ego makes people dangerously ill, and
now that people are totally under their egos’ command, where can you find the tolerance
described in that Holy Verse of the Quran?
So much hate and frustration is pent up in people – I see it in their looks – and so often a
scapegoat is sought upon whom to release that torrent, and the best, the tried and true
scapegoat throughout the world is always the “foreigners”; so I am quick to assure people
here in the West: “We are just here as your guests. This is your homeland.” But is it? You
can’t stay here either except in your graves. Your homeland is the grave, not above
ground. Thank God, no one is begrudging us cemetery plots; no one is trying to prevent
our being buried. The gravedigger wipes the dirt off his hands and goes away, and the
Earth accepts us indiscriminately; but people on the Earth are busy making distinctions, and
therefore, that high level of acceptance of actions as coming from God is rarely found. But
He teaches us the lesson nonetheless, saying: “You must understand who I am: I am the
Creator of people and their works: understand this, that you may attain peace and finally
leave behind your quarrelsomeness.”
Once I was in Mecca with our Grandsheikh making Tawaf (circumambulating) the House
of Allah, the Kaaba. Grandsheikh said to me: “Look up!” When I looked I saw above the
heads of the people another group of worshippers performing their Tawaf; but these people
were of a different class: calm, peaceful and graceful. They too were of mankind, not
Angels, but they were the ones who had reached the level of seeing every action as issuing
from Allah Almighty, therefore they left the level of earthly struggle.
But, meanwhile, back on the ground, amidst the throng, with those who lack such certainty,
we were being pushed, shoved and trampled upon. Some groups locked arms and shoved
straight through the crowd, full-speed ahead, sending all who were unfortunate enough to
fall in their path flying through the air, like discarded banana peels. Elbows in my ribs, heels
on my toes… but above us, and the ones who concur with Allah’s Will have no need for
earth under their feet. Now, perhaps, you are thinking that such a thing is impossible, that I
am telling a “tall tale”, but yet, when you are told that airplanes fly you think nothing of it. If
man can make metal fly, cannot Allah make man fly? They are at peace with their Lord and
with everything in creation, therefore, everything carries them.
So, we have been shown a higher way, the vision of Unity, and we have been asked to be
patient with those events that are not to our liking, remembering their source. This is the
best training for our egos. Undergo this training or you will struggle fruitlessly – up to the
grave. We are being trained by our Lord to recognize the Unity of Actions, so that we can
come to understand the Unity of His Holy Names, which leads us to the knowledge of the
Unity of His Holy Attributes; that knowledge will prepare us for that ultimate dive into the
Unity Ocean of Allah Almighty’s existence – essence. That is the final goal; that raindrop
falls, and it will not emerge again ever – and it is content because it has just gained
everything eternally, forever.
Therefore, Allah Almighty addresses mankind, saying: “Oh man, verily you are striving
towards your Lord, and you will meet him”. He Almighty is teaching us that all our striving
on Earth, our running from East to west, here and there, night and day, is, unwittingly,
nothing else than our race towards our Lord’s endless Unity Ocean, but we can’t now
understand. Our souls long for our Lord, therefore we move, and there is nowhere to move
save towards the One.
|HOME OF MOULANA SHEIKH NAZIM
|PASSING AWAY FROM LIMITATION
EXISTENCE WITHOUT LIMITS
|"Oh my Lord, I ask You to grant me
understanding, and to enable me, Oh
my Lord, to make others
(A prayer of the Holy Prophet
Muhammed, Peace be upon him)