First Stratagem: Desire for fame.
As a consequence of the instruction they have received from satans among the jinn, human satans want to deceive, by means of the desire for rank and position, the self-sacrificing servants of the party of the Qur’an, and to make them give up their sacred service and elevated ‘jihad of the word.’ It is as follows:
Present in most people is the hypocritical desire to be seen by people and hold a position in the public view, which is the ambition for fame and acclaim, and self-advertisement; this desire for rank and position is present to a lesser or greater extent in all those who seek this world. To accomplish this ambition, the desire for fame will drive a person to sacrifice his life even. This ambition is exceedingly dangerous for those who seek the hereafter. And for those who seek this world it is a rough road, is also the source of many bad morals and is man’s weakest vein of character. In order to get possession of someone and draw him to himself, a person only has to gratify this ambition; this ties the man to him, and he is defeated by him. My greatest fear for my brothers is the possibility that the atheists will take advantage of this weak vein of theirs. It has caused me much thought. For in that way they attracted some unfortunates who were not truly friends, drawing them into a dangerous situation.1
My brothers and friends in the service of the Qur’an! Say the following to the secret agents of the cunning ‘worldly,’ or the propagandists of the people of misguidance, or the students of Satan, who try to deceive you through the desire for rank: “Firstly, Divine pleasure, the favours of the Merciful One, and dominical acceptance are such a position that the regard and admiration of men is worth virtually nothing beside them. If one receives Divine mercy, that is sufficient. The regard of men is acceptable in respect of its being the reflection and shadow of the regard of mercy; otherwise it is not something to be desired. For it is extinguished at the door of the grave, so worth nothing!”
If the desire for rank and position is not silenced and eliminated, it has to be directed towards something else, like this: in accordance with the following comparison, perhaps the emotion may have a licit side; if it is for reward in the hereafter, or with the intention of being prayed for, or from the point of view of the effectiveness of service.
For example, at a time Aya Sophia Mosque is filled with eminent and blessed people, the virtuous and excellent, there are one or two idle youths and immoral loafers around the entrance and porch, while by the windows and in front of them are a few Europeans watching for amusement. A man enters the mosque and joins the congregation, then recites a passage from the Qur’an beautifully in a fine voice; the gazes of thousands of the people of truth are turned on him, and they gain reward for him through their regard and prayers. Only, this does not please the idle youths and heretic loafers and the one or two Europeans. If when the man had entered the blessed mosque and joined the huge congregation, he had shouted out disgraceful, rude, indecent songs, and danced and jumped around, then it would have made the idle youths laugh, have pleased the dissolute loafers since it encouraged immorality, and made the Europeans smile mockingly, who receive pleasure at seeing any faults in Islam. But it would have attracted looks of disgust and contempt from the vast and blessed congregation; he would have appeared in their view to have fallen to the very lowest of the low.
Exactly like this example, the World of Islam and Asia is a huge mosque, and the people of belief and truth within it are the respected congregation in the mosque. The idle youths are the sycophants with the minds of children. The dissolute loafers are those villains who follow Europe and have no nation or religion. While the European spectators are the journalists who spread the ideas of the Europeans. All Muslims, and especially the virtuous and perfected ones, have a place in the mosque according to their degree; they are seen and attention is turned towards them. If they perform actions and works proceeding from the injunctions and sacred truths the All-Wise Qur’an teaches, in regard to the sincerity and Divine pleasure which are a fundamental of Islam, and if their tongues of disposition recite Qur’anic verses, they will then be included in the prayer: O Allah, grant forgiveness to all believing men and to all believing women, which is constantly uttered by all individuals in the World of Islam, and will have a share of it, and they will become connected to them all in brotherly fashion. Only, its value will not be apparent to some of the people of misguidance who are like harmful beasts and to some idiots who are like bearded children. If the man disowns all his forefathers, the source of honour, and all the past, the cause of pride, and abandons in the spirit the luminous highway of his righteous predecessors, which they considered to be their point of support, and performs actions following his own whims and passions, hypocritically, seeking fame, and following innovations, he will fall to the very lowest position in the view of all the people of truth and belief. In accordance with: “Beware the insight of the believer, for he sees with the light of Allah,”2 however common and ignorant a believer is, even if his mind does not realize it, his heart looks coldly and in disgust on such boastful, selfish men.
And so, the man carried away by love of position and rank and obsessed by the desire for fame-the second man, descends to the very lowest of the low in the view of that numberless congregation. And he gains a temporary and inauspicious position in the view of a number of insignificant, mocking, raving loafers. In accordance with the verse,
Friends on that Day will be foes, one to another-except the righteous,3
he will find a few false friends who will be harmful in this world, torment in the Intermediate Realm, and enemies in the hereafter.
As for the first man, even if he does not expunge from his heart the desire for position, on condition he takes sincerity and Divine pleasure as basic and does not make rank and position his goal, he will attain a sort of spiritual rank, and a glorious one at that, which will perfectly satisfy his desire for rank. This man will lose something insignificant, very insignificant, and find in place of it many, very many, valuable and harmless things. Indeed, he will chase away a few snakes, and find numerous blessed creatures in their place; he will become familiar with them. Or he will ward off stinging wild hornets, and draw to himself blessed bees, the sherbert-sellers of mercy. He will eat honey at their hand, and find such friends that from all parts of the Islamic world his spirit will be given effulgences like the water of Kawthar to imbibe through their prayers, which will pass to his book of good deeds.
At one time, when through perpetrating a great wrong due to the desire for fame, a little man who was occupying a high worldly position became a laughing-stock in the eyes of the World of Islam, I spoke to him teaching him the meaning of the above comparison; I hit him over the head with it. He was well-shaken, but because I had not been able to save myself from the desire for rank and position, my warning did not arouse him.
1. Those unfortunates suppose themselves to be in no danger through thinking: "Our hearts are together with Ustad." But someone who strengthens the atheists' current and is carried away by their propaganda, offering the possibility of perhaps unknowingly being used in spying activities, saying: "My heart is pure, and loyal to Ustad's way" resembles the following example: While performing the obligatory prayers, someone cannot hold his wind and expels it; and his prayer is invalidated. When he is told that his prayers are invalid, he replies: "Why should they be? My heart is pure."
2. Tirmidhi, Tafsiru Sura 156; Abu Na'im, Hilyat al-Awliya' iv, 94; al-Haythami, Majma' al-Zawa'id x, 268; al-'Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa' i, 42.
3. Qur'an, 43:67.
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