Eighth Allusion: It mentions eight important dangers on the Sufi way. Ninth Allusion: The benefits of the Sufi way.
This describes Eight Abysses.
The First: Some of those who embark on spiritual journeying do not conform completely to the Practices of the Prophet (PBUH), and fall into the abyss of preferring sainthood to prophethood. It is proved in the Twenty-Fourth and Thirty-First Words how elevated is prophethood, and how dull sainthood is in relation to it.
The Second: Some of those who follow the Sufi path fall into the abyss of preferring extremist saints to the Companions of the Prophet. It is proved decisively in the Twelfth and Twenty-Seventh Words and in the Addendum on the Companions, that the Companions acquired such qualities through conversation with the Prophet (PBUH) that it cannot be attained to through sainthood, and the Companions cannot be surpassed, and that the saints can never reach the degree of the Companions.
The Third: Some of those who are excessively bigoted concerning the Sufi path oppose the Practices of the Prophet and give them up because of their preference for the customs, conduct, and recitations of the Sufi way, which they do not give up. In this way, they become slack in practising the conduct of the Shari‘a, and fall into that abyss.
As is proved in many of the Words, and as leading scholars of the Sufi path like Imam Ghazali and Imam-i Rabbani said: “The degree of acceptance gained by following a single of the Practices of the Prophet (PBUH) cannot be won by means of a hundred personal practices and private acts of worship. And just as a single obligatory act is superior to a thousand acts taken from the Practices of the Prophet, a single of those Practices is superior to a thousand practices of Sufism.”
The Fourth: Some extremist Sufis suppose inspiration to be like Revelation, and of similar kind to Revelation, and fall into an abyss. It has been proved most definitely in the Twelfth Word and in the Twenty-Fifth Word on the Miraculousness of the Qur’an, how elevated, universal, and sacred is Revelation, and how insignificant and dull inspirations are in relation to it.
The Fifth: Some Sufis who do not understand the essence of the Sufi path, in order to strengthen the weak, encourage the slack, and to lighten the hardships and weariness arising from strenuous service, find the lights, illuminations, and wonders, which are not sought but given, to be pleasurable, and they become captivated by them and fall into the abyss of preferring them to worship, acts of service, and reciting of supplications. It is mentioned briefly in the Third Point of the Sixth Allusion in the present treatise and proved decisively in others of the Words that this world is the realm of service, not the realm of reward. For those who seek their recompense here, together with transforming enduring, perpetual fruits into a transitory and temporary form, permanence in this world is pleasing and they do not yearn for the Intermediate Realm; quite simply, they love the life of this world in one respect, for they find a sort of hereafter within it.
The Sixth: Some of those who embark on spiritual journeying fall into an abyss by confusing the shades and shadows and partial samples of the stations of sainthood with the fundamental, universal stations. As is proved clearly in the Second Branch of the Twenty-Fourth Word and in others of the Words, the sun becomes numerous by means of mirrors and thousands of similitudes of the sun possess light and heat like the sun itself, despite being very weak in relation to the actual sun. In exactly the same way, the stations of the prophets and of the great saints possess shades and shadows. Those who journey with the spirit enter these, and see themselves as greater than those great saints, or even to have advanced further than the prophets, thus falling into an abyss. However, the way to avoid falling into all these abysses is to always take the principles of belief and fundamentals of the Shari‘a as the basis and the guide, and to consider to be opposed to them the illuminations or what is witnessed.
The Seventh: Some of the people of illumination and ecstasy fall into the abyss in their spiritual journeyings of preferring pride, complaint, ecstatic utterances, public regard, and being a place of recourse to offering thanks and supplication, beseeching Almighty Allah, and self-sufficiency. Whereas the highest degree is Muhammadan worship, which is termed ‘belovedness.’ While the basis and essence of worship is to manifest the perfection of that reality by reason of supplicating and beseeching Almighty Allah, showing deep humility before Him, offering thanks, through impotence and want, and through self-sufficiency before the people. Some of the great saints have involuntarily and temporarily become proud, complained, and made ecstatic utterances, but they may not be voluntarily followed on such points; they are rightly-guided but not the guide; their way may not be taken!
The Eighth Abyss: Some of those who journey spiritually who are self-centered and precipitate want to consume in this world the fruits of sainthood, which will be received in the hereafter, and fall into an abyss through seeking them on their spiritual journeyings. But, as verses like,
But the life of this world is but goods and chattels1
proclaim, and as is proved decisively in many of the Words, a single fruit in the realm of eternity is superior to a thousand gardens in this fleeting world. For this reason, those blessed fruits should not be consumed here. If without being wanted they are given to eat here, they should be thanked for, and considered to be Divine favours bestowed, not as reward, but for encouragement.
1. Qur’an, 3:185, etc.
- Ninth Section (The Nine Allusions): It is about sainthood and Sufism
- Fourth Allusion: It explains that sainthood is easy but also difficult, short but also long and valuable but also dangerous.
- Sixth Allusion: It explains that the best of the ways of sainthood is following the practices of the Prophet, that its most important foundation is sincerity, its sharpest strength is love, and that this world is not the realm of reward but...
- Seventh Allusion: It states that the Sufi way and truth should serve and follow the Shari'a and answers the question “Can there be saints outside the bounds of the Sunna and Shari'a?”
- Fifth Allusion: It explains the reality of the Unity of Existence and the Unity of Witnessing.
- Third Allusion: Sainthood is a proof of prophethood, and the Sufi way is a proof of the Shari'a.
- Ninth Matter: “Can there be a way of sainthood apart from Ahl as-Sunnah?”
- First Question: Why did the Companions not discover the troublemakers with the eye of sainthood since they were superior to saints and why were three of the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs martyred?
- First Flash: The comprehensiveness of the words of the Qur'an; each phrase contains many meanings.
- Ninth Allusion: The benefits of the Sufi way.