Stimulus for Spiritual Growth

Posted by Shadra_Institute 4:29 AM, under | No comments

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Patience is a surpassing light"
(Muslim (14), 1.203: 223), and some Sufis, such as the Malamatiyya or 'followers of the
path of blame,' have considered patience with psychic pain, particularly that of the derision,
censure, and scorn of others, a means of pruning away spiritual insincerity. The sheikhs of
this school, Hamdun of Nishapur and others, noticed that the heart pays an inordinate
amount of attention to what others think, and that love of others' regard is often a reason
for insincerity with Allah.

They found that breaking the ordinary habits of the mind, and
the resultant helplessness and dismay at being left without anyone or anything to helpexcept
God-was a means for opening up a door between the soul and the Divine. Mawlay al-
'Arabi al-Darqawi methodically used this to precipitate the realization in his disciples that
there was no recourse from Allah except to Him. When disciples took him as their sheikh,
he had them give away everything they owned and then go door-to-door begging,
particularly in neighborhoods where they were well known and would be certain to meet
with insult and humiliation. It was very effective in breaking egos, and Darqawi filled North
Africa with awliya and 'arifin. Ibn 'Ata Illah says, "Nothing pleads more for you than utter
need; nor is anything swifter in bringing divine gifts than humiliation and want" (Hikam
(8), 43: 129). I personally experienced something of the baraka of this when I moved to
Jordan in 1980. I had been working at sea fishing for some years, and was big and I thought
tough-until several years of chronic liver disease, never precisely identified, made me too
weak to walk much farther than fifty yards without exhaustion.

Few things ever benefited
me more than this dark and distressing period, from which I finally realized that Allah
alone was in control, and that "truly man has been created weak" (Qur'an 4:28). Abul
Hasan al-Shadhili experienced this so often in his own path that he said, "By Allah, I have not seen triumph except in humiliation." Clearly in the mystic way, the dark night of the
soul often precedes the dawn of illumination. Suffering is just part of the story.


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