The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path - 6-The Spiritual Station of Love (Hubb)
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

6-The Spiritual Station of Love (Hubb)

Shaykh Abū Madyan moved to an even higher spiritual station which is concerned with love and yearning for the beloved. He started this spiritual station by asserting that whoever lacks spiritual states and physical worship is not qualified to delve into the divine presence of God. Shaykh al-‘Alawī commented on this aphorism by saying that whoever is empty from inside and outside does not qualify for the divine presence of God because he lacks the necessary qualifications which make the wayfarer adequate for spiritual growth. When the wayfarer lacks the zeal and enthusiasm in the path to God, he can''t be counted among the seekers of God. He went further explaining the spiritual meaning of states ahwāl and defined it as a bundle of divine inspirations (wāridāt) tackling the heart to stir it after its stagnancy and these inspirations may appear on the body so it would shake and bend. The eyes may have its share of the divine inspirations so it could tear.243

Shaykh al-‘Alawī narrated a Gnostic story of Dhu-l- Nūn al-Misri who was looking for a Sufi mystic known for her divine love and when he approached her, he heard her saying,

"O..You are the one who the heart delights with His remembrance…the only one I want is You…You are my wish and goal not people…You are the one who all people submit to You…the nights and entire time vanishes… and my love for you is fresh in my heart and new…"244

Shaykh al-‘Alawī commented on this story and similar ones by saying that these are the states of the lovers and if the wayfarer lacks spiritual states (al-aḥwāl) then he must have a good share of physical worship (al-a''māl) because the path to God revolves around the two realms. 245

A worshipper named Hammam came over to Alī Ibn Abū Tālib (d. 40 H. 660 CE)246 and asked him to describe the spiritual states of the pious, so Alī answered: " they are the ones whose logic is righteousness, their dress is modesty, their walk is humility, they lowered their gaze from all what is prohibited and dedicated their hearing to listen only to beneficial knowledge, they receive calamities with the delight of prosperity and if it were not for submitting to their time of death, their souls would not have ever resided in their bodies out of burning longing for their Lord… and at night they stand in resilience on their feet reciting the Quran, when they pass through a verse of mercy, they would find comfort and serenity in it and when they pass by a verse of admonishment, they would shiver in awe and they would almost hear the roaring sound of hellfire in their ears and they would kneel down supplicating to God to save them from such miserable destiny"247

Shaykh Abū Madyan reiterated what Shaykh al-Harawī explained earlier regarding the degrees of the seekers of God and categorized them to lovers and beloved. In the first category, the lover is tormented with his love, yearning for proximity and rolls over his burning feelings of longing and suffers the pain of love. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Jjīlānī (d. 561 H. 1166 CE)248 was asked about love and he said that it is a sort of disruption in the heart caused by the beloved which turns the world in the eyes of the lover tighter and smaller than the circle of a ring. Love is blindness of anyone save the beloved out of jealousy for him and it is blindness of the beloved out of veneration of him. Lovers are drunk and they only become sober when they witness their beloved. They are sick and are not healed except by observing their needed love. They are confused and don’t feel serenity and comfort except with their Lord and they invoke no one but Him and don''t respond to any caller unless the call is for Him.249

Shaykh Abū Madyan mentioned the signs of a true lover and characterized him as the one who the bounties and manifestations of God left him in awe and his yearning for proximity to God left him in worry. These two characteristics lead the wayfarer to risking his life for the sake of his beloved not paying any attention to the dangers of the path and he would repeat in awe: "how can I find a way of connection with which I may live?"250

The second sign of a true lover is to have constant longing (shawq) and pleasure in God''s company (al-uns). Longing and yearning belong to the beginners of the path to God whereas serenity and contentment with God are the characteristics of the Gnostics who come close to the end of the path. Therefore, Shaykh Abū Madyan asserted that whoever does not possess one of these two characteristics is not a wayfarer in the path of God.251

One of the Sufi poets wrote in prose talking about love with its concomitant characteristics saying,

If the country with all its trees….were thirsty of love… rain would not be able to quench its thirst…if the land tasted the love of God…the trees would be too occupied with love to bear fruits…and the branches would be leafless from the heat of love…neither iron nor mountains are stronger in bearing love and enduring torment than the humans…252

Therefore, the lover is tormented in his love and has no pleasure in living without his beloved. He is captivated with love and immersed in its ocean with no hope for survival.

Shaykh Abū Madyan wrote about his love eloquently in prose saying,

I was humiliated across countries when you captured me…and I was rolling over the pain of love…if I had two hearts, I would live with one and leave the other tormented in your love…but I only have one heart possessed with love….I am neither content with living nor death seems near…like a squirrel in the palm of a child holding it…tasting the pain of death while the child is playing…neither the child has the intellect to feel sorry for the squirrel nor the squirrel has the feather to fly away…I was called crazy due to the pain of love and I was set as an example of love in the neighborhood… oh people of love die out of longing….just like Qays died due to the torment of abandonment…253

Therefore the one who feels longing and serenity is tormented with love but he takes pleasure in his pain and tastes the sweetness of his torment. He would be found crying in awe as if he is away in his proximity and absent in his presence and if he was asked who he was, he would reply out of extreme proximity: I am the beloved and the beloved is me or would say his soul is mine and mine is his…we are two souls reside in one body…254

He confused the lover and the beloved till he reached a point where he doesn’t know if he is the lover or the beloved or does he want or is he wanted. He was drunk with love and immersed in awe longing for the beloved.255

Shaykh al-‘Alawī explained the further consequences of lacking these two dominating characteristics in the wayfarer and said that it indicates the lack of love in his heart because if love was instilled in his heart, the seed of yearning and serenity would flourish. Moreover, when love is instilled in the heart of the Gnostic, he will be surrounded with constant care (ri‘āya) for his soul and preservation (wiqāya) for his body. In other words, the Gnostics'' hearts are preserved against any whims or heedlessness and their bodies are preserved against falling in any prohibited or disapproved acts. Thus love establishes a fortress which preserves the Gnostics from any slight heedlessness which divert them away from the divine presence of God. 256
Shaykh Abū Madyan referred to another vital characteristic that the wayfarer should possess in his path to God which is constant sorrow and crying. Shaykh Al-‘Alawī explained the need for these characteristics as the wayfarer is always heartbroken with tearing eyes crying over what he missed during his heedless days away from God. If the wayfarer lacked remorse, it would be a clear sign of failure in his path to God as he would be only walking in the path with his tongue not his heart. If the wayfarer is not tormented due to the pain of separation from God, he has a dead heart because if he knew how far away he is from his beloved and how much preparation he missed, he would fly to God same as a thirsty person flying to quench his thirst with water. Shaykh al-‘Alawī concluded that the eyes that don''t cry for not seeing her beloved, blindness suits them better.257

Shaykh Abū Madyan drew a distinction between the one who is dressed with the humility of his incompetency in reaching God and the one who is dressed with the pride of seeking refuge in God. Shaykh al-‘Alawī explained that the first person is content with separation from God and satisfied to sit back and stay behind with the heedless ones.258 A Sufi poet said in this regard

Anything you lose can be compensated
Except for God, if you lose Him,
There is no compensation for Him.

Shaykh Abū Madyan then warns the wayfarer against leaning towards anything save God because He may take from the wayfarer the pleasure of conversing with Him. Shaykh al-‘Alawī commented on this aphorism by saying that God is too jealous for his servant''s heart to let it lean towards anyone else as God created the heart of the Gnostic to know Him. Taking away the pleasure and sweetness of conversing with God is a major torment for the lovers as they lose one on one conversation between the lover and the beloved in seclusion, proximity and witnessing. 259

Shaykh Abū Madyan talked further about the consequences of feeling the sweetness of conversing with God as it leads to deprivation of sleep. Shaykh al-‘Alawī commented on this aphorism explaining that sleep is an indispensable necessity to the physical body though reducing the hours of sleep is affordable through self discipline. It also can be the result of enjoying the sweetness of conversing with God which leads the soul to be in a constant state of awakeness with no heedlessness or sleep. This case is attainable especially when the soul is purified from the layers of thickness caused by the earthly body and moves to a state of transparency. This is why the soul does no longer need to sleep because it is separated and elevated from the earthly body with its sleeping needs. Therefore from one side the soul is still residing within the body and from the other side it is elevated way above bodily needs. 260

When the soul gently flows in the divine presence of Oneness (al-wāhidiyya) in which God''s names and attributes are manifest, the soul in this state has full recognition of its physical body and becomes aware of all its moves. Though the soul would be in an intimate state of conversing with God, it would be aware of its surrounding creatures as it hears God''s speech behind the veil of His creatures. It hears God''s speech in letters and sounds because it is still attached to its earthly body and did not rise above it to hear a different form of speech.261

When the soul delves into the divine presence of (al-ahadiyya) only then it can hear the speech of God directly with no mediators or intercessors. This speech is elevated from being confined to sounds and letters. It is unlike any speech and it is called divine conversation (Munājāh). The soul listens attentively to this divine speech without the shackles of the earthly body which hinders its ability to hear the divine speech with no letter or sounds. 262

Shaykh Abū Madyan made a distinction between the sort of dwelling in the heart of the Gnostics and the dwellings of world seekers'' hearts. The former type is the dwelling for remembrance and abode for seclusion and intimacy with God; as for the latter, it is the dwelling for whims and heedlessness. Shaykh al-‘Alawī commented on this aphorism clarifying that the heart has only one destination, therefore when it turns towards something, it turns away from all else. So the hearts of world seekers are filled with heedlessness whereas the hearts of the Gnostics are filled with divine secrets and celestial wisdom until the heart becomes a spring for divine knowledge. This is the definition of a true heart and the rest of the hearts are not worthy of its name because it did not fulfill the function that it was created for. They left their hearts unattended, surrounded with heedlessness and whims. The lights of the heart faded and no longer became a human''s heart. As for the Gnostics, they never ceasee to be always in urge for God and never settle till they enter His divine presence.263

Shaykh al-‘Alawī went further to explain the consequences of having a pure heart that is filled with the lights of the invocation of God. He mentioned that a Gnostic once said: " my heart told me that God says…" and this is the characteristic of the pure heart which is empty of all else save God and the veils of separation were left up so mediators between the lover and the beloved are no longer needed. 264

Reaching this status of closeness and intimacy is unattainable without a strong and sincere determination and zeal (irādah) to walk in the path of God. More importantly having a strong determination is pointless if it is not preceded with deep repentance from all kinds of heedlessness as any work coming out of a heedless heart mounts to nothing in the sight of God. Shaykh al-‘Alawī encouraged the wayfarers to walk in God''s path with confidence that they would reach their ultimate destination as the spiritual station of the Gnostics starts with sincere repentance. Repentance is the key because God loves those who repent and those who are purified. God readily accepts those who turn back to Him with a broken heart repenting their heedless years away from Him.265 Therefore; one should never give up as one of the Sufi poets said:

It is all about destiny which may drive a close person away
And may bring him close when he was far away.266

Shaykh al-‘Alawī then drives the attention of the wayfarer not to think that repentance is only asked from a sinner who commits prohibited actions as this is the general meaning of repentance. But when it comes to the wayfarer he needs to do a special type of repentance even if he never committed a sin because when the wayfarer describes himself as not a sinner is in itself a sin.267

Whenever the wayfarer feels that he is adequate to stand before His Lord, then he is still far away from Him. The wayfarer''s willingness to walk in the path of God is not rectified until he becomes certain that he has nothing to lean on. Shaykh Abū Talib al-Makkī mentioned the exegesis of the verse which says: "Is He [not best] who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him"268 and he defined the one who has an urged need as the one who stands before his Lord reaching out his hand in supplication for his need while being certain that he does not have any shred of a good deed standing between him and his Lord which would make his supplications worthy of being accepted.269

Shaykh Abu-l- Hasan al-Shadhilī ( d. 656 H. 1258 CE)270 said in this regard: "If you want to supplicate to God, present your offences before you and say: O God I come with nothing and your prayers will be answered readily". 271

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