The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path - 4-The spiritual station of Poverty (al-Faqr)
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)
Toutes les pages

4-The spiritual station of Poverty (al-Faqr)

The next spiritual station is poverty and it is seen as a source of pride for the Gnostics as Prophet Muhammad was characterized by it and used to say: "poverty is my pride". Shaykh Abū Madyan after stating the high status of poverty and made it a cause for pride, Shaykh al-‘Alawī narrated the endless noble qualities of Prophet Muhammad and quoted a poet saying:217

If people were to gather his noble characteristics… they would fall short at all levels
Pardon me Messenger of Allah for my inadequate poetry… as excuses are always accepted by the generous…

Poverty is such an honor for the Prophet and the companions that they made the word faqīr or poor as a title for anyone who would join their path to God even if he was the richest of the rich. Poverty is a sign for the Oneness of God and this state includes many levels in it. Imam al-Shāfiī (d. 405 H. 820 CE)218 once said: "nothing is a better ornament for the scholars than poverty and contentment". And a poet once said,219

The self refuses to be poor….and poverty is better than richness that would spoil it
The richness of the self lies in sufficiency…and if it refused, all what is on earth won’t suffice it…

It was once narrated that ''Umar b. al-Khattāb (d. 23 H. 644 CE)220 was in extreme poverty and his shirt had four patches and when he was the Caliph, he slacked one day in going out for Friday prayer and when he finally came out, he apologized saying: "what kept me from coming out is that my shirt was being washed and it was my only shirt." Shaykh al-‘Alawī commented on this story by saying that poverty is usually tied with gnosis and the knowledge of the Divine.221

Shaykh Abū Madyan in his next aphorism about poverty clarified the necessity of concealing one''s own poverty and not to subject himself to people''s charity. He went further on explaining the reason behind the concealment of poverty by saying that poverty is a light which only remains as long as it is concealed and once you let it appear, its light is gone. 222 Another reason for concealing poverty is to show the steadfastness and patience while bearing poverty without looking forward to what is in the hands of the rich. Moreover when the faqīr maintains praising God while in the state of poverty and turns a blind eye on the rich people along with refraining from complaining from his poverty to them, his heart is filled with satisfaction with God which turns poverty to light with which he walks among people. 223 This type of poverty is described in the Quran: "The one who knows them not, thinks that they are rich because of their modesty. You may know them by their mark, they do not beg of people at all. And whatever you spend in good, surely Allah knows it well." 224

Shaykh Abū Madyan took the spiritual station of poverty to a higher spiritual level which transcends the obvious meaning of emptiness of one''s hand from worldly matters to a subtle meaning of emptiness of the wayfarer''s hearts from everything save God. When the wayfarer reaches this state, he becomes totally in need of God and seeks his refuge at every step of the way. For this reason Shaykh Abū Madyan explained spiritual poverty as failing to witness none save God. The wayfarer reaches this state through deep and constant contemplation which leads him to realize that creatures mount to mere nothingness and God is the only real existence which nothing unto like Him nor there is a match or competitor.225

Whoever is totally immersed with this meaning would not find anything existing save God and would see Him in everything. In other words, if he sees God in everything, is it possible for the wayfarer to be in need of anything save God?226

Shaykh Abū Madyan in his next aphorism delves into even a higher spiritual state which is preserved for the richest of the rich. This title is given to those who God bestowed upon them the recognition of one of His facts. The truth is that God is the Reality of existence and if it weren’t for His manifestation in what He created, they wouldn''t be visible because their nature is pure nothingness and the eye sight does not recognize the invisible. Shaykh al-‘Alawī warns us against seeing what is created as a separate existing independent entity but rather your sight should fall on the Creator of its existence who provided it with its temporary existence. In other words, God created everything and then He manifested Himself in what He created so it became existent. 227

Shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir al-Jilanī explained further that God did not manifest Himself in any created being as much as He was manifest in human beings. Shaykh al-‘Alawī expounded on this aphorism by saying that though God was manifest in all His created beings with His different attributes, He revealed His manifestation on human beings through His lordship.228

God created Adam with His own hands and blew in him with His spirit. He was manifest in him and commanded the angels to prostrate for him and made him His vicegerent on earth. Thus He placed him in the middle between His world of manifestations (al-mulk) and His world of divinity (al-malakūt) along with sharing parts of the world of power (jabarūt). Therefore, the whole being was combined in Adam and his outer shell makes him appear as a speck of clay whereas his inner side shows him as the vicegerent of the Lord of the universe.229

The combination of the three heavenly realms and its manifestation in the human being makes him the greatest of all realities of existence but this reality is concealed from recognition by minds and invisible from eye sight. So whoever God reveals this ultimate reality for him, how can he not become the richest of the rich?230

On the other hand, the most impoverished of all is the one who God is concealed from him though He is the manifest in all things. It is narrated that the people in heaven would cry in awe like those in the hell fire if God concealed Himself from them for a moment. This meaning was written in prose, Poverty is the poverty of the heart which is empty from divine encounter…. and richness with anything else save God is extreme poverty….231

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