One who seeks leadership is on the road to destruction himself, while by means of him others are sometimes reformed, if he is wont to invite (them) to forsake the present world. That is (true) about anyone whose outward state in an external affair is like the outward state of the learned Fathers, but who conceals his purpose (to get) reputation. He is like a candle which burns itself while others are lighted by it,
and other people's reformation is in his destruction. If he
invites (people) to seek the present world, then he is like
a consuming fire which devours Itself and others (with it).
-the learned are of three kinds: (a) those who are destroy
ing themselves and others: they are those who very clearly
seek the present world and rush after it; (b) those who help
(save) themselves and others: they are those who are urging mankind to (seek) Allah outwardly and inwardly; and (c) those who are destroying themselves (and) saving others: they are those who invite to the next abode and who have rejected the present world outwardly, while their inner purpose is to be acceptable to man and establish reputation.
Then you should notice in which division you are and
who it is for whom you busy yourself in making ready. Do
not think that Allah will accept anything but knowledge and
action done purely to please Him. If Allah wills, there
will come to you in the Book on Hypocrisy--rather in the whole quarter on the Things Which Destroy--- something which will remove from you any doubt about it.
PART FIVE CONCERNS THE MANNERS OF THE PUPIL AND THE TEACHER
A. As for the Pupil, His Outward Manners
and Offices Are Many, But Their Different Aspects May Be Arranged under Ten Headings
l. The first office is to give precedence to purifying the soul. from impure character and blameworthy qualities, for knowledge is worship of the heart, secret prayer, and a mystical oblation to Allah.
Just as any worship which is an office of the outer
members of the body is sound only by purification of the outward (parts) from evils and wickedness, so in like manner mystic worship and the cultivation of the heart with
knowledge is sound only after its purification from evil
character and unclean qualities. Kuhammad said, "Religion was built on cleanliness." And it is so outwardly and inwardly.
"The polytheists are unclean" (9:28), said Allah only
in order to draw the attention of the intelligent to the fact that purity and impurity are not confined to externals which are apprehended by the senses, nor the polytheist
may be clean in dress, bathed in body, but impure in his spirit; that is, his inner being is polluted with uncleanliness.
Impurity is an expression (which stands) for that which one avoids and from which one desires to be removed. It is more Important to avoid the uncleanliness of the inner qualities; for they, along.with their ugliness in the present, are the things which destroy in the future. For that reason Muhammad said, "Angels will not enter a house in which there is a dog."
(Now) the heart is a house. It is the dwelling place of the angels andjthe place where their influence descends,
and their domicile. Evil qualities like anger, carnal appetite, malice, envy, pride, self-conceit, and their like are barking dogs. Then how will angels enter it (the heart) while it is full of dogs?
Allah only casts the light of knowledge into a heart by means of angels. And Allah is not in the habit of speaking to man except by inspiration or from behind a screen, or He sends a messenger who directly reveals what He wishes. Thus angels, appointed as overseers govern whatever blessings of
knowledge are sent to hearts. They are those who are holy, pure, and just: (made innocent) of the blameworthy qualities. They only notice a good person. With treasures of Allah's mercy they only build the good and the pure.
I do not say, "What is meant by the expression, the house is the heart; and by the dog, anger and the blameworthy qualities,, but I do say, "It is a notification about it and a difference between changing the literal to the spiritual (al-bawatin) and between calling attention to the spiritual by means of a mention of the literal along with an affirmation of the literal."
And the Batiniyah are differentiated by these details which are a way of consideration (i'tibar) and which is the path of the learned and the righteous. For the meaning of i'tibar is to go beyond what is mentioned to something else and not to stop short at it. Just as an intelligent person considers another man's mischance and finds in it some significance for himself in the fact that he goes on to note that he also is subject to misfortunes and that the world is liable to overturn. So his passing from another to himself and from himself to the world principle is praiseworthy consideration.
Therefore pass over also from the house, which is a
# Reading SNMZ ,yufaraqu instead of fafaraga
human building, to the heart, which is one of Allah's buildings, and from the dog, which is blamed for its qualities, not for its shape, though it is something that has some rapacity and uncleanliness in it, to the spirit of the dog, which is rapacity (al-sabb'lyah).
Then you should know that the heart which is full of anger, inordinate desire, and thirst for the present world and craves to tear people's reputation apart is a dog in meaning and a heart in form. For the inner light of intelligence (i.e. the eyes of the mind) regards meanings, not forms. In this world forms predominate over meanings, while meanings are(dwelling)internal in them; whereas in
the next abode, forms will follow meanings and meanings will dominate. For that reason every person is raised according to his spiritual form. One who tears people's reputation apart will be resurrected as a vicious dog; He who is inordinately greedy of their wealth, as a ravening wolf; he who magnifies himself above them, in the: form of a tiger; and he who seeks leadership, in the form of a lion. The traditions (al-akhbAr) have mentioned that, while the consideration (al-i'tibar) of those who have intelligence and vision testified to it.
Should you say, "Many a student (_glib) whose character is bad obtains knowledge", that would be very far-fetched
indeed.. How far he is from the true knowledge which is useful in the next abode and which brings happiness! For to show him that sine (al-ma'api) are deadly and destructive
poisons is one of the very beginnings of that knowledge. Have you ever seen a person take poison in spite of the fact that he knows it is a deadly poison? Surely what you hear from those who carefully examine (the outer form of knowledge) is a tradition which they eagerly swallow one time and ponder in their hearts another time. Xnd that is not part ofknowledge at all.
Ibn Mas'fd said, "Knowledge is not oft-repeated narrated things, but it is a light cast into the heart."
Some one else said, "Truly knowledge is reverence according to Allah's saying, 'Verily those of Allah's servants who really respect Him are the learned"' (35:25), Just as if he had pointed out the most specialized fruits of knowledge. For that reason some of the orthodox Muslims (al-muhaggiqttn) said, "The meaning of their saying, 'We learned knowledge for other than Allah, but knowledge refused to be for other than Allah', is that knowledge scorned and was forbidden us, and its real nature was not revealed to us. What we have obtained is only its words.t,nd its terminology."
Should you say, "Really I see many orthodox learned jurisconsults who excel in the subsidiary branches and
fundamental principles, and (because of that) they are considered among the powerful ones, while their character is blameworthy and not purified from them (the unclean quali
ties)",(in answer to that) it is said, "If you knew the knew
stages (maratib) of knowledge, and if you the knowledge of
the next abode, it would be clear to you that what they are engaged in is of little value from the point of view of its being knowledge."
And truly its value lies in doing it for the sake of Allah, if one means to draw nigh unto Allah by it. An indication of this has already preceded, while a lengthier and clearer exposition about it will be given to you, if Allah wills.
2. The second office is to diminish one's attachment to the (engrossing) occupations of the present world and draw away from one's people and native land, for one's attachments are time-consuming and distrac.tive. "Allah has not made a man with two hearts in his breast" (33:4); and whenever the mind is divided, it fails to apprehend realities. Therefore someone said, "Knowledge will not give you a part of itself until you give it all of yourself".
Then if you give it all of yourself, you run the risk of
its giving you a part of itself. Thought, divided on scattered objects, is like a brook which distributes its
water (over diverse places). Then the earth absorbs some
of it, the air snatches away part of it, and not enough of it remains to be gathered together to water the gardens.
3.The third office is that he should not boast and feign
knowledge (which he does not have) nor become a ruler over
his teacher, but he should throw him the reins of his affairs
in their entirety, in every detail, and submit to his ad
vice, as an ignorant invalid aids a compassionate and clever doctor. It is encumbent on him to be humble to his teach
er and seek reward and honor by servin~g him.
A1-Sha'bl said, "laid Bin Thabit was praying at a fu
neral, and his mule was brought for him to ride. Then along carne Ibn 'Abbess who took hold of his stirrup, whereupon Laid said, 'Let it alone, 0 cousin of Allah's Messenger.' But Ibn'AbbAs said, 'Thus were we commanded to do to the learned and venerable.' So Zaid Ibn Thabit kissed his (Ibn 'Abba.s) hand and said, 'Thus were we ordered to do to the peo
ple of our prophet's household."'
And Mul.ammad said, "Adulation is part of the character
of a believer only in his quest for knowledge."
One who seeks knowledge ought not to feign that he
knows more than his teacher. He would magnify himself over his teacher if he should scorn information except from those
who are regarded as famous. This is the essence of stupidity
for knowledge is a means of safety and happiness (now and hereafter). Anyone who desires to flee from a devouring
lion which wants to capture and kill him, makes no distinction whether a famous or an obscure man guides him towards
flight. And the violent craving of the lions of the Fire
towards those who are ignorant of Allah is more severe than the savagery of all lions. Wisdom is the object of a believer's persevering quest and which he eagerly snatches wherever he may get possession of it. So he is grateful to anyone who leads him to it, whoever he might be.
For that reason someone said, "Knowledge is a war against proud young men, just as the current (of a stream) is a war against an elevated place; for knowledge is only obtained by humility and listening."
Allah said, "Verily in that there is a warning to one who has understanding (galb) or listens while he is a witness (of what he hears)" (50:36).
The meaning of his being a possessor of understanding (dhu galb) is that he is receptive to knowledge and an understanding person. Then his ability to understand is not enough, so that he pays attention while he is a witness with good listening and obedience, thanks and joy, and acceptance of grace and readiness of mind (hadir al--galb) to receive everything which is cast to him.
Therefore let a pupil be to his teacher as soft,level
earth which receives copious rain and all parts of which
absorb it and are entirely obedient in accepting it. `hat
ever his teacher advises him in the way of learning, let
him adopt andput aside his own opinion (even if it is right), for a mistake of his guide is certainly more beneficial to him than to be right by himself. For experience acquaints (a man with) details which one would be astonished to hear, although their benefit is great.
Many a time when a person is sick with fever, a doctor
treats him with hot applications to increase his strength
to a point where he can bear the shock of the treatment, while one who has no experience in this is astonished. Al
lah has warned (about craving to Meet a learned person) in 181
the story about al-Khidr and Mflsa, where al-Khidr said,
"Truly you will never be able to be patient with me, and how will you be patient about something in which you have no experience?" (18:66,67)
]"hen he laid down the condition of silence and submis
sion and said, "If you follow me, do not ask me anything
until I begin to mention it to you" (18:69).
Then he was not patient, and he continued to turn the question over in his mind until it was the cause for the separation between them both. In short, every pupil who
reserves for himself an opinion and a choice not the choice of his teacher, is condemned to miss his end and fail.
If you should say, "Allah has said, 'Ask the people of admonition (ahl al-dhikr), if you do not know "'(16:45; 21:7). So one is commanded to ask (about something which
is not known)", you should know that it is so; but only con
cerning that about which the teacher allows questions. For verily, questions about something which your degree of un
derstanding has not reached are blameworthy, and for that reason al-Khidr, forbade Musa from asking. That is, leave off
asking questions before their time; for a teacher has a bet
ter understanding of what is suitable for you as well as the time to disclose it. What has not reached the time of disclosure in every one of its steps has not reached the time for questions to be asked about it.
'Ali has said, "One of the rights of a learned person is that you do not question him too much nor insist on an
answer; that you do not importune him when he is neglect
ful; that you do not take hold of his clothes, when he rises from his seat; and that you do not divulge a secret to him. Never slander anyone at his house, and never seek a lapse on his part. If he should fall, accept his excuse.
You are responsible to pay him respect and venerate him for
the sake of Allah, as long as he keeps His command. Do not
sit in front of him; and if he is in need, be first to serve him.
4. The fourth office is that in the beginning of the matter one who is going to plunge into knowledge should avoid listening to disagreement of people whether about those sciences of the present world into which he plunges, or the sciences of the next abode; for that bewilders his mind, perplexes his Intellect, weakens his opinion, and
causes him to despair of apprehending and knowing; but first
of all it is necessary to be certain of the single praiseworthy way which is pleasing to his teacher. Then after that (he may) listen to the differences of the schools and items which are doubtful.
If his teacher is not free to choose one opinion but rather his habit is to transmit schools (al-madh&hib) and what is said about them; then let him avoid him, for he is more likely to lead astray than to guide aright. For a blind man is not suitable to lead and guide the blind. One in this condition is considered to be in bewildering blindness and perplexing ignorance.
sembles preventing the novice in Islam from associating
with unbelievers, while urging the strong (in knowledge)
to look into disagreements resembles inciting the strong to
beginner (in knowledge) from doubts re
associate with infidels. On account of this a weakling
is prevented from blindly entering a class (saff) of in
fidels (who are strong), while a brave man is urged to do
it. Not heeding these details some of those who are poor
ly grounded think that it is permissible to imitate the cam
plaisancies which are handed down about those who are well
grounded. They do not know that the offices of those who are well- rounded differ from the functions of those who are poorly-grounded.
On account of that one (of the gnostics) said, "Who
ever sees me at the beginning (of the journey) will become
a friend; and whoever sees me at the end will become an
agnostic (zindiq). For the end causes acts to go back to
the inner (i.e. contemplation on Allah and His attributes assumes more importance than the external acts of worship), while the limbs remain quiet except concerning the stages of the obligations.
To observers it appears that it is idleness, laziness,
and neglect, but that is far from the true fact. L`or that is the heart's perseverance in real vision and the presence (hudur) (of Allah) and continual remembrance which is always the most preferable of actions. For a poorly-grounded per
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --- - - - - - - -
,# reading al-'ajiz with SMZ instead of al-,jaban
r# reading al-tagahhum with SMZ instead of al-tahaijum
son to imitate the outer deeds which he sees a well-grounded person perform is to commit a fault which resembles the pretext of one who casts a little uncleanliness into a jug of water and offers the excuse that sometimes double (the amount of) this filth is thrown into the sea, while the sea is greater than the jug. Then whatever is permitted to the sea is more permissible to the jug. This poor fellow does not know that the sea, by its power, transforms the uncleanliness to water and that very uncleanliness takes on, by its (the sea's) rule, the quality of the sea ( which
quality is purity in itself and purification of others),
while a little uncleanliness overcomes the water which is
in the jug and transforms it to its qualities (i.e. uncleaniiness).
In such a manner what was not permitted to others was
permitted to the Prophet so that nine women were made lawful for him, because he had the ability to exceed the quality of justice towards his wives, even though they were. many. As for another person, he is not able to be partly just and equitable, but the harm that is among them (the wives) reaches him so that his desire to please them leads him to disobey Allah. One who compares angels to jailors does not succeed.
5. The fifth office is that the seeker of knowledge
should not forsake any part of the praiseworthy sciences
nor any one of its various kinds without giving it careful consideration by which he studies its purpose and aim. Then, if time is kind to him, he may seek to go deep into it. Otherwise, he may engage in and master the important part of it and touch the fringe of the rest. For the sciences are mutually helpful, and some of them are interrelated with others. To be severed from enmity to that knowledge, (which was.) due to one's ignorance, is a benefit which one receives
immediately; for "people are enemies of what they do not 183
know". Allah said, "If they are rightly guided by it, they
will say, 'This is an old lying legend'" (46:10).
The poet said, "He whose mouth is sour from sickness
Finds sweet water bitter in it."
In their various degrees the sciences are either leading the worshipper to Allah or they are a kind of helper on
the near and the distant. Those who undertake them are guardians just as (much as) those who guard inns and frontiers. Everyone has a rank according to which he has a reward in the next abode, provided his aim is pure (i.e. provided he is doing it for the sake of Allah).
6. The sixth office is that one should not plunge deeply into any particular sort of knowledge in one swoop,
the way. They have graded degrees of purposes
but he should observe the gradations and begin with what concerns him most. If there is not sufficient time to mas
ter all the sciences, it is prudent to take the best of
everything and to be satisfied with a smell of it and to exert one's utmost strength in that part of his knowledge
which is practicable for perfecting thattknowledge which is
the noblest of sciences: that is, knowledge of the next abode.
I mean the two parts: practical (al-mu'amalah) and mystical (al-mukashafah). The aim of (the practical is
the mystical, and the aim of) the mystical is experiQn-tial knowledge of Allah (Tna'rifah allah). By it (i.e. the ystical) I do not mean the belief which the common man hastily swallows as an inheritance(from his shaikhs) or
(receives) from lip to lip. Nor do I (mean) the way of
verifying scholastic theology and dispute by fortifying
that (belief) from the opponents' ruses (murawaghat) which is the aim of the scholastic theologian.
,Rather (I mean) that is a kind of certain belief (yaa
q n) which is the fruit of the light which Allah has cast
- -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
following Si`-,!Z; omitted in margin
;` following margin; SMZ gives variant readings
rr#f Following S.,-Z; margin reads al-kalam
following margin; SMMMZ omits dhalik
into a worshipper's heart who, by discipline, has purified his inner life from impurities so that he reaches the rank of Abu Bakr's belief which, if it were weighed by the faith of the learned, would outweigh it just as the chief of mankind (Tuhammad) testified about it. I do not think that what the common man believes and the scholastic theologian sets in order---a theologian who only surpasses the common man in the art of speech (kalam) for the sake of which his art is called theology (kalam)----I do no think that 'Umar, 'UthmAn, and 'All and the rest of the Companions were weaker in it; where he excelled them was in the inmost heart (al-sirr) which rested in his bosom.
I am astonished at anyone who hears such a saying from the law giver (-uhamamad) and then despises what he hears, as he sees fit. Then he asserts that it is part of the SQfl vain sayings and that it is not reasonable. It is necessary to proceed slowly in this; for in that, you lose
your capital. So be frugal with your knowledge of that
secret which is outside (the scope of) the jurisconsults'
and theologians' wares. For only your craving to seek it
leads you to it . In short, the most honorable of sciences
and their utmost limit is to know Allah. (Knowledge of)
Allah is a sea, the utmost depth of which is not known.
# reading a variant hlna instead of hatta
Man's highest degree in it is the rank of the prophets, then the saints, those (of the learned) who follow them.
It is related that some one saw a picture of two ancient.philosophers in a temple (masiid). One of them had
in his hand a scrap of paper on which was (written), "I am well versed in everything. Do not think that you are well
versed in anything until you know Allah and know that He is the Causer of Causes (the Prime Causer) and the Creator of things."
The other had in his hand(a paper on which was written), "Before I came to know Allah, I used to drink and (continue) to thirst; when I came to know Him, I quenched my thirst without drinking."