Thursday, January 05, 2006

The believer is a mirror for the believer

"The believer is a mirror for the believer" - The Prophet (pbuh) [1]

The Prophet created a group of the most amazing men ever witnessed by history. How could it be that so many people can become so great and so pure at the same time? Because their hearts were mirrors reflecting the light of the Prophet (pbuh).

In his youth a certain lovely woman invited [Mohammad] Tirmidhi to take her, but he refused. Then one day the woman, learning that he was in a garden, arrayed herself and proceeded thither. As soon as the shaikh became aware of her approach, he fled. The woman ran after him, screaming that he was after her blood. Tirmidhi took no notice, but climbed a high wall and flung himself over.

One day in his old age Tirmidhi was reviewing his acts and sayings, and remembered that incident. The thought entered his mind, “What would it have mattered if I had gratified that woman’s need? After all, I was young, and I could afterwards have repented.” When he perceived this thought in his mind, he was filled with anguish. “Foul and rebellious soul!” he exclaimed. “Forty years ago, in the first flush of youth, this thought did not occur to you. Now in old age, after so many struggles, whence has come this repining over a sin not committed?” Very sorrowful, for three days he sat in mourning for this thought.

After three days he saw the Prophet in a dream. “Mohammad, do not grieve,” said the Prophet to him. “What happened was not due to a lapse on your part. This thought occurred to you because forty years more had passed since my death. The period of my leaving the world had become that much longer, and I was withdrawn further away. It is no sin of yours, no shortcoming in your spiritual progress. What you experienced was due to the long extension of the period of my departure from the world, not to any deficiency in your character.”

One day, a child's parents brought him to [Abdul Qadir Jilani]. The Child was addicted to candy, and try as they might, they had not been able to cure him of this habit. They had even sought the help of doctors, but to no avail.

Now the Sage happened to have a sweet tooth himself. He told the parents: "Go now, and bring him back a week later."
When the week had passed, the parents brought the child back. The Sage simply told him, "My son, don't eat sweets from now on." The parents were mystified as to why such a simple command had not been issued the week before, but they said nothing.

After some time had passed, the parents came back to thank the Sage. They were both surprised and elated. The child had stopped eating sweets of his own accord. "O Sage, how did you accomplish this?" they asked. "And why didn't you give him the same order when we first brought him to you?"

The Sheikh smiled. "Before I could ask your child to renounce sweets," he said, "I had to do so myself. It was because I dropped my own habit that he was able to abandon his."

"The believers are like one body; if the eye suffers (or is sore), the whole body suffers, and if the head aches, the whole body aches." - The Prophet [4a]

"A believer with respect to another believer is like one building: one part strengthens the other." - The Prophet[4b]

"There are great men who rectify themselves- and others are rectified" - Mencius [5]

"So wherever the Superior Man passes through, people are transformed; the place where he stays is spiritualized and Heaven and Earth blend harmoniously." - Mencius[6]

"If a man is correct in his own person, then there will be obedience even if orders are not given. But if he is not correct in his own person, there will be no obedience even if orders are given." - Confucius [7]

"In the words of Lao Tzu, 'I love quiesence and the people of themselves go straight.' (Tao Te Ching, Ch. 57) And according to Chuang Tzu, the Perfect Man governs the world by rectifying his inner state." [8]

Is this how a Qutb is supposed to keep the world in order? If it's because the people reflect his light and are better, and the world is in harmony.. that I can understand. This might be the explanation I was looking for. But to say that the Qutb actively has power to keep the world in balance, I still cannot believe that or accept it as an Islamic belief.

Miracles secret and open flow from the teacher.
With reason - that's not unusual at all.
And the tiniest of these miracles
is this: everyone near a saint gets drunk with God.
-Rumi [9]

"So find a teacher (...) who extends his light and virtue with equal ease to those who appreciate him and those who don't. Shape yourself in his mold, bathe in his nourishing radiance, and reflect it out to the rest of the world." -Hua Hu Ching 75 [10]

Companionship with the holy makes you one of them.
Though you're rock or marble, you'll become a jewel
when you reach the man of heart. -Rumi [11]

"I have known true alchemists," the alchemist continued. "They locked themselves in their laboratories, and tried to evolve, as gold had. And they found the Philosopher's Stone, because they understood that when something evolves, everything around that thing evolves as well." [12]

[NOTE: I once read the following story somewhere. Find it:

A man went to visit a sufi shaikh, and the shaykh asked his followers to go prepare a special dessert for the guest. The guest was astonished, and said, "How did you know that I was craving this dessert right now?" The shaykh replied, "I have subdued my nafs and no longer crave desserts. When I found myself thinking of that dessert, I knew that the mirror of my heart was reflecting that desire from you."]

In that way, it could be said that the sahaba were reflecting the pious thoughts of the Prophet and became straightened themselves. His light was like a fire, and the Muslims were pieces of wood. Some pieces of wood were close enough to the Prophet to become smaller fires themselves, lighting those around them. Others were further away, but became hot, and started changing color, becoming more similar to the fire and acquiring some of the qualities of a burning piece of wood, even if they did not catch fire themselves. When the Prophet (pbuh) passed from his physical existence, his big fire was gone, and all was left were the smaller fires of his great companions, who lit other pieces of wood. When they died, the even smaller fires of the tabi'een generation lit the ones around them, and so on. And so the Muslim ummah degenerated across the centuries.

But every now and then, Allah turns some of his great followers into torches themselves, to light up people around them and create many great people around them, as the Prophet created many great people around him. For example, Najm ad-Din Kubra, who became known as "the Saint maker" for having transformed so many of his disciples into great sufi shaykhs, and al-Shadhili who did the same, etc.

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His Light: Allah doth set forth Parables for men: and Allah doth know all things. (Qur'an 24:35)

1. Bukhari in al-Adabul Mufrad (no. 239), Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 3/1370/no.4900) and others
2. Attar, Fariduddin. Remembrance of the Saints. Pg 332-333
3. Bayman, Henry. The Black Pearl. Pg 140.
4a. Muslim
4b. Bukhari, Muslim

(5,6,7 )Quotes taken from The Black Pearl. Work Cited:
5. D.C. Lau: Confucius, The Analects, Hardmondsworth: Penguin, 1979. (7A:10)
6. Ibid, (7A:13)
7. Ibid, (13.6)

8. Bayman, Henry. The Black Pearl Pg. 140

9. Helminski, Kabir (2000). The Rumi Collection. P.130.
10. Hua Hu Ching 75, quoted after: Novak Philip, The World's Wisdom. P.170.
11. Mathnawi I, 717, quoted in: Helminski, Kabir (2000). The Rumi Collection. P.126.
12. Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. Pg 144.

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