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The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path - 2- The Spiritual Station of Satisfaction and Submission (al-Riḍa wa-l- Taslīm)
English - Articles written
Écrit par Omneya Nabil Muhammad Ayad   
Jeudi, 22 Mai 2014 00:00
Index de l'article
The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path
Chapter 1 : Introduction
Literature Review
Martin Lings'' Work on Shaykh al-‘Alawī
Thesis purpose
Primary Sources
Historical brief on the French Colonialism in Algeria (1830-1900) and the role of the Sufi orders in Algeria
Brief Biography on Shaykh al-‘Alawī
A comprehensive list of all the written books of Shaykh al-‘Alawī
History of the al-‘Alawī Sufi Order
Chapter Two : The Historical Background of the Sufi Spiritual Stages in Major Works
The History of the Development of the Spiritual Stages in Major Sufi Works
1- The Spiritual Stage of Fear and Vigilant Awareness of God (al-Khashya wa-l- Murāqaba):
2- The Spiritual Station of Satisfaction and Submission (al-Riḍa wa-l- Taslīm)
3- The Spiritual Station of Reliance on God (al-tawakkul)
4- The spiritual station of Poverty (al-Faqr):
5- The spiritual station of Sincerity (al-Ikhlās)
6- The Spiritual Station of Love (Hubb)
7- The Spiritual Station of Oneness (al-Tawhīd)
Chapter 3 : The Sufi Spiritual Stages in the Work of Shaykh al-‘Alawī
1- The Spiritual Stage of Fear and Vigilant Awareness of God (al-Khashya wa-l- Murāqaba)
2-The Spiritual Station of Satisfaction and Submission (al-Rida wa-l- Taslīm)
3-The Spiritual Station of Reliance on God (al-tawakkul)
4-The spiritual station of Poverty (al-Faqr)
5-The spiritual station of Sincerity (Ikhlās)
6-The Spiritual Station of Love (Hubb)
7-The Spiritual Station of Oneness (al Tawhīd)
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2- The Spiritual Station of Satisfaction and Submission (al-Riḍa wa-l- Taslīm)

Al-Riḍa means satisfaction which is the total opposite of wrath and anger.99 As for taslīm, the term originally comes from God''s attribute al-Salam which is the one who is void of any shortage or deficiency.100

Al-Kāshānī explains in Sufi terms the different levels of the stage of taslīm as it initially means submitting oneself to the legal rulings without showing any objections or questioning its reasons. At a higher level the term is related to surrendering oneself to attributes which go against its innate nature such as patience instead of hastiness, altruism instead of greed along with embracing the values of justice and moderation to keep the self in balance and avoid deviating to extremes. 101

Ibn ''Arabī in his Futūhāt tackled the stage of riḍa and said that it indicates the happening of small things out of great ones. This means that the servants are satisfied with small things that are bestowed upon them by God out of etiquette adab and discipline which stem from having faith and reliance on God.102 God has described himself with satisfaction with what His servants give in terms of worship even if the servant did not exert all his efforts because if the servant took it upon himself to exert all what he can in worship, he will place himself in intricacy and difficulty and God relieved us from falling in such hardship. Therefore, God is satisfied with the worship which is within one''s own abilities and without falling into hardship. The servants as well are satisfied with the reward which they gain due to their worship.103

Al-Ghazalī in his Iḥyā further illustrated this concept through the following example. He mentioned a story of an ascetic who dreamt about a lady shepherd who will be his bride in heaven, so he kept looking for her until he found her and asked her if she performs any extra acts of worship and she replied in negative. So he asked her if she can remember a special act she does and she replied, "well, there is only one small characteristic of mine, if a calamity befell on me, I wouldn''t wish for prosperity to come along and if I was sick, I wouldn''t wish to get well and If I was in the sun, I wouldn’t wish to be in the shade." So the ascetic said: "this is no minor characteristic, it is a great one that most worshippers would find hard to do".104

In other words, the Gnostics submit gently to God''s destiny and bend easily wherever the wind of the divine will blows. Ibn ''Attāillah confirmed this meaning of submission in one of his aphorisms in which he said: "Sometimes good behavior (al-adab) leads some to abandon asking because of confidence in His providence or because of concern for the invocation (dhikr) of Him stymies their asking of Him".105 Shaykh Ibn ‘Ajība expounded further that the Gnostics are mostly overwhelmed with a state of self annihilation so they fail to recognize their own existence as they are absent from their senses and immersed in witnessing their Lord. For this reason it would be next to impossible for the Gnostics in this state to demand from God or supplicate for anything.106

Around the same meaning the Sultan of lovers, Ibn al-Fāriḍ said,

The command is Yours so ordain whatever You ordain…beauty has placed me under your command….and if ruining myself is the way for my union with You…hasten it as I will sacrifice my life for Yours….. test my love to You with whatever You wish …my choice would be that which pleases You...107

The same meaning is iterated by Shaykh al-Harawī when he mentioned the response of Abu Yazīd al-Bistamī when he was asked: "what do you want?" so he said: "I want not to want".

Afīf al-Dīn al-Tilmisanī commented saying that this response shows the true sincerity in bending with God''s will wherever it leads him.108

The spiritual status of submission to God''s divine will leads to the spiritual status of satisfaction al-riḍa. Ibn ''Attāillah explained the issue of affliction further in his aphorism in which he said: "To soften for you the suffering of affliction, He has taught you that He is the One who causes trials to come upon you (al-mublī laka). For the One who confronts you with His decrees of Fate (al-aqdār) is the same who has accustomed you to His good choice (ḥusn al-ikhtiyār).109

Ibn ‘Ajība commented on this aphorism by saying that the One who afflicted the wayfarer with calamities is characterized with mercy and compassion. If the outcome of the affliction is nothing other than purifying the wayfarer from his pitfalls and getting him closer to God''s divine presence, it suffices him.110

Ibn al-Fārid in his famous poem al-''Ayniyya mentioned the joy of affliction by saying,

I enjoy the pain if You are its Causer…and if you test me with calamities, they are favors for me….judge me with whatever You wish…I am obedient to the sultan of love.111

Shaykh Abū Madyan realized that the path to God is full of calamities which might burn out the wayfarer and lead him astray, for this reason he advised the wayfarer to hold on to patience al-ṣabr in his journey to God. Patience is essential for the wayfarer as it pushes him forward against the continuous wave of afflictions.

Patience is defined by Shaykh al-Harawī in his Manāzil as restraining the self from fleeing from what it hates and restraining the tongue from complaining about it. He categorized patience into three stages, the first of which is for the wayfarer to be patient not to commit sins either out of fear of punishment or out of reverence of God. The second stage in patience is being patient to perform constant acts of obedience. Shaykh al-Harawī explained that what lightens the burden of calamity is remembering God''s grace and gentleness which accompanies hardships.112

Ibn al-Fāriḍ eloquently talked about the state of enjoying pain for the sake of the Beloved,

Abandonment is seen as intimacy for me if it doesn''t mean deserting me…and anything no matter how hard it is, seems easy if it is other than rejecting me….tormenting me is sweet for me and your injustice in my love is fair enough for me……113

Al-Qushairī added further that al-riḍa is an important indicator to God''s satisfaction with the wayfarer because once the wayfarer finds satisfaction in his heart with God''s destiny; it means that God is satisfied with the wayfarer. 114

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