When Allah Ta’ala has opened up an avenue of Ma’rifat for you, then do not be concerned of the paucity of deeds because He has opened up this avenue only for you to acquire Ma’rifat. Are you not aware that it is He Who delivers to you the bounty of Ma’rifat and you are presenting your deeds to Him? What relationship is there between your presentations and His bestowals?
Among all the Maqaasid (aims, goals) of Tasawwuf, the greatest aim and bounty is the Ma’rifat of Allah Ta’ala, hence the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) says:
O Saalik! When Allah Ta’ala has opened up an avenue of His Ma’rifat for you, e.g. He reveals to your heart that He is the true Actor of all deeds or it is revealed that Allah is with you, and along with such inspirations you have acquired the correct spiritual state, then do not be concerned if you are rendering only a small amount of Nafl acts of ibaadat. Do not become despondent on account of this paucity. The aim of Nafl Ibaadat, verbal Thikr and abundance of Muraaqabah is the acquisition of Divine Ma’rifat. When you have acquired this aim, then a decrease in your deeds due to a valid reason will not adversely affect your progress in the acquisition of higher ranks of Ma’rifat. For the purpose of maintaining istiqaamat (firmness in obedience and Ibaadat) continue with acts of worship as much as you are able to render with ease.
The Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) then states a subtle reason for this advice. There should be no regret on account of paucity of righteous deeds because the very fact that Allah Ta’ala has opened up for you an avenue of His Ma’rifat indicates that He wishes you to progress higher than your external deeds, hence the bestowal of the elevated stage of Divine Ma’rifat. Allah Ta’ala desires to manifest the Tajalli (Illumination) of His Beautiful Names and Attributes to you. This Ni’mat (Bounty) is immeasurably superior to an abundance of A’maal-e-Zaahirah (Physical acts of worship).
You, the Saalik, should also understand that the Ni’mat of Ma’rifat has been Divinely Conferred on you whereas the acts of Ibaadat are your presentations. There is absolutely no comparison between Allah’s bestowal and your presentations. Thus, the Ni’mat of Ma’rifat is immensely superior to A’maal-e-Zaahirah. Although in reality the Taufeeq of A’maal and the practical expression of the deeds are also the effect of Allah’s grace, nevertheless, the bandah is the medium for these acts whereas the Ni’mat of Ma’rifat is inspired directly into the bandah’s heart. Thus, from this angle, the deeds of virtue are related to the bandah while the Ni’mat of Ma’rifat in every respect is from Allah Ta’ala. The effort of the bandah plays no role in its acquisition.
As long as you are in this worldly abode do not be surprised at the incidence of (spiritual and moral) contaminations, because the world has merely exposed its essential attribute.
As long as you are in this world, do not be surprised at difficulties, misfortunes and displeasing occurrences. O Saalik! While you are in this earthly abode do not feel surprised if clouds of contamination settle over you. An amazing and a surprising event is something which is not expected to transpire. But regarding the misfortunes and calamities of this world, nothing surprising happens. Such events are merely the natural manifestations of the attributes of the world.
Contamination and pollution are the natural and necessary characteristics of the world since Allah Ta’ala has created it as a trial and a test to distinguish between the patient and the impatient, and between the grateful and the ungrateful.
If you keep in mind that it is Allah Ta’ala Who afflicts you with difficulties and hardships, then most certainly your grief will be lightened because the One Who has involved you in the hardship has always chosen goodness for you in all your affairs.
When you keep in mind that the misfortunes which befall you are from Allah Ta’ala, the worldly causes (asbaab-e-zaahirah) having absolutely no significance in this regard, then grief and sorrow will be lessened. You will realise that the Being Who has afflicted you with the misfortune is the same Being Who has always acted for your welfare in all your affairs. He has always treated you with love and kindness.
In view of Allah’s kind and loving treatment in all your affairs, you will understand that there most certainly is some benefit for you in the hardship. While ostensibly the hardship appears to be a misfortune, in reality it is for your benefit. In fact, it is a mercy for you.
When this knowledge develops into a state (haal) in you, your worry and grief will disappear. Although the hardship will produce pain to your physical body or to your physical heart, your baatini (roohaani) heart will be contented and delighted.
Whoever entertains the notion that in difficulties and hardships Allah Ta’ala has lifted His grace and kindness, does so on account of deficiency in his intelligence.
The idea that Allah’s kindness and grace are with the bandah only in the state of pleasure and prosperity, not in the state of difficulty and hardship, is the product of deficiency of the intelligence. The Mu’min bandah who holds this notion is short-sighted because his gaze is limited to the external circumstances. In difficulties and hardships the Mu’min achieves such baatini bounties which he does not acquire in prosperity. In fact, in the zaahiri ni’maat (luxuries and the state of prosperity) are numerous calamities because when the nafs acquires the objects of its pleasure, it gains strength, hence its rebellion will increase. It will thus become involved in sin. If not sin, then at least it will certainly fall into ghaflat.
On the contrary, the power of the nafs weakens in difficulties and hardships. Since Imaan exists, the bandah turns his gaze towards Allah Ta’ala. He supplicates to Allah Ta’ala and adopts sabr (patience). He turns away from the world and cultivates the attribute of Radha Bil Qadha (Contentment with the Divine Decree of Predestination). These attitudes and attributes are the acts of the heart, which are superior to the outward acts of worship executed by a healthy person in a state of peace.
Thus, it is deficiency in one’s intelligence to believe that Allah Ta’ala’s mercy is lifted during difficulties and hardships.