Shaikh Muhyi’din ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani
The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment) said:
Do not exert yourself to attract prosperity or to avert misfortune. Prosperity will come to you if it is your lot, whether you seek to acquire it or view it with distaste. Misfortune will likewise overtake you if it is meant for you by destiny’s decree, whether you be averse to it, or pray for it to go away, or confront it with patience and fortitude to please the Lord.
Your only resort is total surrender, allowing the process to work within you. If the experience proves to be a happy one, you must endeavor to show gratitude. Should it be an ordeal, you must exercise patience and perseverance, try to accept it with good grace, or lose yourself in it and become detached by virtue of the spiritual states [halat] you are given to traverse, and the stations [manazil] to which you are made to travel on the path of the Lord, whom you are commanded to obey and befriend, that you may get to meet the Companion Most High.
You will then be installed in a position where your predecessors are the champions of the truth, the martyrs and the righteous, so that you may see with your own eyes all those who have gone before you to reach the King, who have drawn close to Him and found in His presence every exquisite delight, joy and security, honor and bliss.
Let tribulation visit you. Allow it to take its course, and do not fret about its onset and approach, for its fire is not more terrible than the fire of Hell and its blazing inferno. According to traditions reliably ascribed to the best of humankind, the best of those ever carried by the earth and sheltered by the sky, Muhammad the Chosen (Allah bless him and give him peace), he said: “The fire of Hell will say to the believer, ‘Move on, believer! Your light has extinguished my flame!’ “
Is the believer’s light that puts out the flame of Hell any other than the one that escorts him in this world, while disobedient sinners go unguided by it? Let this same light extinguish misfortune’s flame, and let the coolness of your patience and your harmony with the Lord take the heat out of the suffering you have to undergo. The affliction will then have come not to destroy you, but to try you and to confirm the soundness of your faith, to consolidate the strength of your conviction, and to give you inwardly the good news from your Lord that He is proud of you. Allah (Exalted is He) says:
Indeed We shall try you till We know those among you who strive hard and persevere in patience, and till We test your record. (47:31)
When your faith has been established with the Lord of Truth, and you have conformed to His work with full conviction, all through His help and grace, you must then be ever patient, compliant and submissive. Let nothing happen in yourself or in others that would go against the commandments or the prohibitions of the Lord. Then, when an order is received from Him (Almighty and Glorious is He), give it your full attention and be quick to respond. Get moving and do not sit around. Far from being passively resigned to the divine decree and its action, you must exert your faculties and make every effort to carry out the order.
If you find yourself incapable of this, you must at once take refuge with your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). Resort to Him and humbly beg for pardon. Look for the cause of your inability to carry out His order, and for what impedes your inclination to obey Him. The problem may be due to your asking for trouble and behaving with bad grace in His service, to your frivolous attitude and confidence in your own ability and strength, to your conceited pride in your own knowledge, or to your associating your own self and His creatures with Him. As a result, He has barred you from His door, dismissed you from His obedient service, deprived you of the support of His helpful guidance, turned His gracious countenance away from you, treated you with disgust and loathing, and left you engrossed in your worldly worries, passions, self-will and desires.
Do you not recognize that all of this distracts you from your aim, and keeps you from the sight of Him who has created you, nourished you, blessed you with many gifts, and kept you alive?
Beware of being diverted from your Lord by anything other than your Lord. Everything besides your Lord is other than He, so accept nothing else in preference to Him, since He has created you for His own sake. Do not wrong your own soul by being preoccupied with other things to the neglect of His commandments, for that will cause you to enter the “Fire, whose fuel is men and stones” (2:24). You will be sorry, but your sorrow will not avail you. You will make excuses, but no excuse will be accepted. You will plead for another chance, but your plea will not be granted. You will seek to return to this world to make amends and put things right, but you will not be allowed to return.
Take pity on your soul and be kind to it. Make good use of the tools and instruments you have been given, by dedicating your intelligence, faith, inner awareness and knowledge to the service of your Lord. Let their light provide illumination amid the darkness of destiny. Hold fast to the divine commands and prohibitions, use them as guidelines on the path of your Lord, and leave the rest to the safekeeping of the One who created you and brought you into being. Be not ungrateful to Him who created you from dust and made you grow, who developed you from a sperm into a man. Do not wish for anything but that which He commands, and have no aversion except for that which He forbids. Let this wish be enough for all purposes of this world and the hereafter, and this aversion likewise. When you are in conformity with His commandment, all beings are at your command, and when you detest what He forbids, all loathsome things will flee from you wherever you happen to be or make your stay. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has said in one of His Books:
O son of Adam, I am Allah; there is none worthy of worship besides Me. I say to a thing, “Be,” and it comes into being. Obey Me; I will make you such that you say to a thing, “Be,” and there it will be.
He has also said (Almighty and Glorious is He):
O lower world, if anyone serves Me, serve him, and if anyone serves you, give him trouble.
When His prohibition comes, you should be as if you had gone flabby in the joints, with your senses out of action, drained of energy, physically incapacitated, all passion spent, all outer perceptions erased and impressions effaced, oblivious of any influence, like a toppled throne in an empty room in a ruined building on a darkened lot, devoid of sensation and out of touch. Let your ears be deaf as if from birth, your eyes as if blindfold or inflamed or totally deprived of sight, your lips as if covered with swellings and sores, your tongue as if it were mute and dumb, your teeth as if they were abscessed and aching and loose, your hands as if they were paralyzed and without any grip, your legs and feet as if they were shaky and trembling and bleeding, your genital organ as if it were impotent and without any interest in sex, your stomach as if it were bloated and quite indifferent to food, your mind as if it were crazy and deranged, your body as if you were dead and being carried to your grave.
An order calls for strict attention and a quick response. A prohibition calls for holding back, recoil and disengagement. A decree of destiny calls for acting dead, for disappearing into non-existence. Drink this draught, swallow this medicine and be nourished by this diet, so that you may flourish in good health, and be cured of the sicknesses of sin and the diseases of desire, by Allah’s leave (Exalted is He) and if He will.