Monday, June 29, 2009

The Lookout Point of the Heart

Al-Tabari relates with his isnad to Ibn Mas'ud (radi Allahu anh),

The Messenger of God said, "The Qur'an was sent down on seven ahruf. Each harf has a back (zahr), and a belly (batn). Each harf has a border (hadd) and each border has a lookout point (muttala').

Sahl al-Tustari "understands the muttala' as a vantage point of the heart, an overview from which one can understand what God meant by certain verses of the Qur'an while still in his life.

Every verse of the Qur'an has four kinds of meanings: an exoteric sense (zahir), an inner sense (batin), a limit (hadd), and a lookout point (muttala'). The exoteric sense is the recitation, the inner sense is understanding (fahm), the limit is what [the verse] permits and prohibits, and the lookout point is the elevated places of the heart [beholding] what was intended by it as understood from God Almighty.

(p. 8-9)

Najm al-Din al-Nisaburi says:

The Muttala' is "the point of ascent (mas'ad), a place to which one arrives where one understands [a thing] as it is (yafhamu kamaa huwa).

(p. 11)

- Kristin Zahra Sands, Sufi Commentaries on the Quran in Classical Islam

Seeking al-Khadir's Knowledge

Then they found one from among Our servants whom We had granted mercy from Us and whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves. (18:65)

Imam al-Tabari relates with his isnad to Ibn Abbas:

حدثنا ابن حميد، قال: ثنا يعقوب، عن هارون بن عنترة، عن أبـيه، عن ابن عبـاس، قال: سأل موسى ربه وقال: ربّ أيّ عبـادك أحبّ إلـيك؟ قال: الذي يذكرنـي ولا ينسانـي قال: فأيّ عبـادك أقضى؟ قال: الذي يقضي بـالـحقّ ولا يتبع الهوى قال: أي ربّ أيّ عبـادك أعلـم؟ قال: الذي يبتغي علـم الناس إلـى علـم نفسه، عسى أن يصيب كلـمة تهديه إلـى هُدَى، أو تردّه عن رَدَى قال: ربّ فهل فـي الأرض أحدٌ؟ قال: نعم قال: ربّ، فمن هو؟ قال: الـخضر قال: وأين أطلبه؟ قال: علـى الساحل عند الصخرة التـي ينفلت عندها الـحوت

Musa asked his Lord: "Lord, which of your servants is most beloved to you?" He said, "The one who remembers Me and does not forget Me." Musa said: And which of your servants is most judicious?" He said, "The one who judges by the truth and does not follow his own inclination (hawaa)."

Musa said: "O Lord, which of your servants is the most knowledgeable?" He said: "The one to whose knowledge the knowledge of the people aspire, that perhaps they might receive a word that would lead them to guidance or save them from ruin."

Musa said: "Lord, is there such a one on earth?" He said: "Yes." Musa said, "Lord, who is he?" He said: "Al-Khadir." Musa said: "Where shall I look for him?" He said, "Upon the shore by the rock where the fish will slip away."

Translated by
Kristin Zahra Sands, Sufi Commentaries on the Quran in Classical Islam, p. 81

Polishing the Heart

Rashid al-Din al-Maybudi says:

Polishing the heart consists of three things:

- replacing the danger of security with fear

[What! do they then feel secure from Allah's plan? But none feels secure from Allah's plan except the people who shall perish. (7:99) ]

- replacing the misfortune of despair with the blessing of hope

- replacing the tribulation of distraction in the heart with thanksgiving of the heart

The substance of this polishing consists of:

- Pursuing knowledge

- Eating Halal

- Persistence in litany (wird)

The fruit of this polishing is:

- an innermost heart (sirr) which has become adorned with knowledge from the Lord

- a soul set ablaze by the sun of eternity

- God-given knowledge (ilm ladunni) found without intermediary.

Taken, with editing, from:

- Kristin Zahra Sands, Sufi Commentaries on the Quran in Classical Islam, p. 90-91

If you find a seeker

It is said that the prophet Dawood alayhi assalam was inspired: "If you see someone seeking Me, be a servant to him."

On the Qur'anic words

"He made Zakariyya her guardian" (3:37) Ruzbihan says: "only a wali can serve a wali".


- Kristin Zahra Sands, Sufi Commentaries on the Quran in Classical Islam, p. 101

The Healing Hand of the Broken Hearted

When sayyida Maryam alayha assalam gave birth, a voice told her to shake the trunk of the palmtree behind her, and it was a dry tree without fruit.

It said: "Shake the trunk of the palmtree towards you and fresh dates will fall down to you." (19:25)

al-Maybudi says in his tafsir, that it was as if God was showing her that:

"We Wanted the blessings of your hand to reach the tree so that it would bear fruit. Then the people of the world would understand that whoever is sad and grieved for Us, their hand is a remedy for pains."

Quote taken from:

Kristin Zahra Sands, Sufi Commentaries on the Qur'an in Classical Islam, p. 105

The weakness in drunkenness

"Commenting on verses of al-Hallaj that would seem to describe union with the divine, Ruzbihan writes that this is a fancy (wahm) born of human weakness as it contemplates God, and he notes that 'the intoxicated speak in this way frequently, even though they know that the essence of divinity is unattainable by the created' ".

- Kristin Zahra Sands, Sufi Commentaries on the Quran in Classical Islam, p. 109