Sunday, January 25, 2009

Selections from the Aphorisms of Abu Madyan No.3

Al-Ghawth Abu Madyan: The heart has but one direction: if it turns to one thing, it is veiled from all else.

Sheikh al-‘Alawi’s commentary:

The heart is quick to turn, and when it turns one way it is veiled from everything else; so turn it, O disciple, to its Lord, and put the people in their proper place. The proper place of the heart is with the Real, not with anyone else, and the Real puts the servant where the servant puts Him. If someone wants to know his place with God, he should consider what place he has afforded God in his own heart.

Guard your heart, O disciple, for it is all you have. If you lose it, you lose all comfort you might derive from God. If your heart turns to anything but God, it will be veiled from God. So make – God bless you – the Real your direction, and accept the company of your Lord so that He does not afflict you with the company of anyone else, as Abū Madyan himself says: ‘If someone is not prepared to accept the company of the Real, he will be afflicted with the company of His bondsmen.’ For the Real is jealous; and if He does not accept works which are dedicated to others as well as Him, how should He accept a heart which is thus dedicated? [Indeed God does not forgive that ought should be associated with Him; He forgives all besides this for those He wills.] (Qur’ān 4:48) [When kings enter a village, they ruin it, and turn its noble folk into wretches.] (Qur’ān 27:34)

The heart should be feared for until full Knowledge is attained; once it is attained, there is no need to fear. Although the heart may have only one direction, we know that the Real has many: [Wheresoever you turn, there is the Face of God.] (Qur’ān 2:115) The disciple should be feared for until he has attained Knowledge of the Pure Oneness of God; once he has attained it, the Real will be the sole direction he faces. [Each face their own direction, and He is the focal point. Vie, then, with one another in good works.] (Qur’ān 2:148) His heart will be emptied of the existence of all besides God, as the heart of Moses’ mother was emptied: [And the heart of the mother of Moses became empty, and would she would have disclosed all about him] without even being asked, for there was nothing in her heart but Him, and vessels only disclose what lies within them, [had We not fortified her heart.] (Qur’ān 28:10)
Such is the heart of the Knower when it is purified for God to dwell within: he almost divulges its secrets, and would indeed do so were it not that the Real – Blessed and Almighty be He! – fortifies his heart so that he does not divulge its secrets. One of them said:

My shyness before You kept me from showing my love:
Your nearness to me meant I had no reason to tell;
You appeared to me without my knowing, as though
You were telling me, in secret, that You were mine.
I see You, and feel awe before You, and fear;
You comfort me with love and tender care.
The one who loves You lives, yet dies in Your love:
So strange for one to live while yet he dies!

This is due to the jealous protection the Real affords the Knower; for to reveal such secrets would be bad for the one who possessed them, as it would cause him to go down in the estimation of the people. The Real is jealously protective of His Friends just as they are jealously protective of Him. One of them said:

‘Show us Layla,’ they said, ‘for you are her keeper!’
What kind of keeper would I be if I gave her up?

Another one said:

If they asked me whom I loved, and I spoke her name,
They would say, ‘He is mad, and has surely been possessed!’