Addendum: Ways of cleaning the soul and developing the spirit.
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
[This short Addendum has great importance; it is beneficial for everyone.]
The ways leading to Almighty Allah are truly numerous. While all true ways are taken from the Qur’an, some are shorter, safer, and more general than others. Of these ways taken from the Qur’an is that of impotence, poverty, compassion, and reflection, from which, with my defective understanding, I have benefited.
Indeed, like ecstatic love, impotence is a path which, by way of worship, leads to winning Allah’s love; but it is safer. Poverty too leads to the Divine Name of All-Merciful. And, like ecstatic love, compassion leads to the Name of All-Compassionate, but it is a swifter and broader path. Also like ecstatic love, reflection leads to the Name of All-Wise, but it is richer, broader, and more brilliant path. This path consists not of ten steps like the ‘ten subtle faculties’ of some of the Sufi paths employing silent recollection, nor of seven stages like the ‘seven souls’ of those practising public recitation, but of Four Steps. It is reality (haqiqat), rather than a Sufi way (tariqat). It is Shari‘a.
However, let it not be misunderstood. It means to see one’s impotence, poverty and faults before Almighty Allah, not to fabricate them or display them to people. The method of this short path is to follow the Practices of the Prophet (PBUH), perform the religious obligations and give up serious sins. And it is especially to perform the prescribed prayers correctly and with attention, and following them to say the tesbihat.
The verse, Therefore, do not justify yourselves,1 points to the First Step.
The verse, And be not like those who forget Allah, and He therefore makes them forget their own selves,2 points to the Second Step.
The verse, Whatever good happens to you is from Allah, but whatever evil befalls you is from yourself,3 points to the Third Step.
The verse, Everything will perish save His countenance,4 points to the Fourth Step.
A brief explanation of these Four Steps is as follows:
THE FIRST STEP
As the verse,
Therefore, do not justify yourselves
suggests, it is to not purify the soul. For on account of his nature and innate disposition, man loves himself. Indeed, he loves himself before anything else, and only himself. He sacrifices everything other than himself to his own soul. He praises himself in a manner befitting some object worthy of worship. He absolves and exonerates himself from faults in the same way. As far as he possibly can, he does not see faults as being appropriate for him, and does not accept them. He defends himself passionately as though worshipping himself. Even, using on himself the members and faculties given him as part of his nature in order to praise and glorify the True Object of Worship, he displays the meaning of the verse,
Who takes as his god his own desires.5
He considers himself, he relies on himself, he fancies himself. Thus, his purification and cleansing at this stage, in this step, is to not purify himself; it is not to absolve himself.
THE SECOND STEP
As the verse,
And be not like those who forget Allah, and He therefore makes them forget their own selves
teaches, man is oblivious of himself, and is not aware of himself. If he thinks of death, it is in relation to others. If he sees transience and decline, he does not attribute them to himself. His evil-commanding soul demands that when it comes to inconvenience and service of others, he forgets himself, but when it comes to receiving his recompense, and to benefits and enjoyment, he thinks of himself, and takes his own part fervently. His purification, cleansing, and training at this stage is the reverse of this state. That is to say, when oblivious of himself, it is not to be oblivious. That is, to forget himself when it comes to pleasure, and ambition and greed, and to think of himself when it comes to death and service of others.
THE THIRD STEP
As the verse,
Whatever good happens to you is from Allah, but whatever evil befalls you is from yourself
teaches, the nature of the evil-commanding soul demands that it always considers goodness to be from itself and it becomes vain and conceited. Thus, in this Step, a person sees only faults, defects, impotence, and poverty in himself, and understands that all his good qualities and perfections are bounties bestowed on him by the All-Glorious Creator. He gives thanks instead of being conceited, and offers praise instead of boasting. According to the meaning of the verse,
Truly he succeeds who purifies it,6
his purification at this stage is to know his perfection to lie in imperfection, his power in impotence, and his wealth in poverty.
THE FOURTH STEP
As the verse,
Everything will perish save His countenance
teaches, the evil-commanding soul considers itself to be free and independent and to exist of itself. Because of this, man claims to possess a sort of dominicality. He harbours a hostile rebelliousness towards his True Object of Worship. Thus, through understanding the following fact, he is saved from this. The fact is this:
According to the apparent meaning of things, which looks to each thing itself, everything is transitory, wanting, accidental, non-existent. But according to the meaning that signifies something other than itself and in respect of each thing being a mirror to the All-Glorious Maker’s Names and charged with various duties, each is a witness, it is witnessed, it gives existence, and it is existent. The purification and cleansing of a person at this stage is as follows:
In his existence he is non-existent, and in his non-existence he has existence. That is to say, if he values himself and attributes existence to himself, he is in a darkness of non-existence as great as the universe. That is, if he relies on his individual existence and is unmindful of the True Giver of Existence, he has an individual light of existence like that of a fire-fly and is submerged in an endless darkness of non-existence and separation. But if he gives up egotism and sees that he is a mirror of the manifestations of the True Giver of Existence, he gains all beings and an infinite existence. For he who finds the Necessary Existent One, the manifestation of Whose Names all beings manifest, finds everything.
The Four Steps in this way of impotence, poverty, compassion, and reflection have been explained in the twenty-six Words so far written,7 which are concerned with knowledge of reality, the reality of the Shari‘a, and the wisdom of the Qur’an. So here, we shall allude briefly to only one or two points, as follows:
Indeed, this path is shorter, because it consists of four steps. When impotence removes the hand from the soul, it gives it directly to the All-Powerful One of Glory. Whereas, when the way of ecstatic love, the swiftest way, takes the hand away from the soul, it attaches it to the metaphorical beloved. Only after the beloved is found to be impermanent does it go to the True Beloved.
Also, this path is much safer, because the ravings and high-flown claims of the soul are not present on it. For, apart from impotence, poverty, and defect, the soul possesses nothing so that it oversteps its mark.
Also, this path is much broader and more universal. For, in order to attain to a constant awareness of Allah’s presence, a person is not compelled to imagine the universe to be condemned to non-existence and to declare: “There is no existent but He,” like those who believe in ‘the Unity of Existence,’ nor to suppose the universe to be condemned to imprisonment in absolute oblivion and to say, “There is nothing witnessed but He,” like those who believe in ‘the Unity of Witnessing.'
Rather, since the Qur’an has most explicitly pardoned the universe and released it from execution and imprisonment, one on this path disregards the above, and dismissing beings from working on their own account and employing them on account of the All-Glorious Creator, and in the duty of manifesting the Most Beautiful Names and being mirrors to them, he considers them from the point of view of signifying something other than themselves; and being saved from absolute heedlessness, he enters the Divine presence permanently; he finds a way leading to the Almighty Allah in everything.
I n S h o r t : Dismissing beings from working on account of other beings, this way is to not look at them as signifying themselves.
1. Qur'an, 53:32.
2. Qur'an, 59:19.
3. Qur'an, 4:79.
4. Qur'an, 28:88.
5. Qur'an, 25:43; 45:23.
6. Qur’an, 91:9.
7. This Addendum is also the Addendum to the Twenty-Sixth Word. (Tr.)
- Addendum The way of “weakness, poverty, compassion and reflection”, which are taken from the Qur’an and lead man to the Divine names of All-Merciful, All-Compassionate and All-Wise; the conditions of this way and its differences from tariqah.
- Third Step: To regard the faults as coming from yourself, to know that all good deeds, power and richness from Allah.
- Fourth Step: To give up egotism, to regard himself as a mirror of the manifestation of Allah.
- The First Step: Not purifying the soul.
- Conclusion: The difference between the way of impotence, poverty, compassion and reflection and “the unity of existence” and “the unity of witnessing”; finding a way to Allah in everything and the way of entering the Divine presence permanently.
- Why do many people not want to admit their mistakes?
- Second Step: To think of yourself when it comes to death and service of others, to forget yourself when it comes to pleasure and desires.
- Gleams: Flowers from the Seeds of Reality. A short ‘Mathnawi’ and collection on the subject of belief for the Risale-i Nur students.
- Special File for Ramadan
- The Thirty-Third Word: It explains that there is a window opening to Almighty Allah in everything with thirty-three examples.