TEN CHARACTERISTICS FOR SPIRITUAL ADVANCEMENT,
Those engaged in spiritual struggle and introspection and are determined to attain the spiritual goal must acquire ten traits in their character, and when by the permission of Allah they have established themselves in these and have made themselves firm, they have attained too high position,
THE FIRST CHARACTERISTIC: is that the servant should not swear by Him, truthfully or falsely intentionally or accidentally, because when he custivates this practice and restricts the tongue to refrain from it will enable him to give up swearing altogether. When he rids himself of swearing, Allah will open for him a door of His light. He will recognise the benefit of this in his heart and will find himself enacted in his rank and strength and receive praise from his brotheren and honour his neighbors. Ali will pay him respect and fear him.
THE SECOND CHARACTERISTIC; is that one should avoid speaking untruth seriously or jocularly because if he practices to avoid this evil and makes his tongue accustomed to utter no falsehood, Allah will open his heart and will clarify him with knowledge in a manner that it will appeal to him as if he never know falsehood. When he hears falsehood from others, he will regard it as a great blemish and feel ashamed of it in his ownself.
THE THIRD CHARCTERISTIC: is that one should be aware that when he promises anything to anyone he should not break his promise. Lest he should break it, he should not make any promise at all. For surely, this is a safer course in the conduct of his affairs and breach of promise belongs to the category of falsehood. So if one keeps his word or refrains from promising what he cannot keep the door of modesty will be allotted to him and love for him will be created in the minds of men of truth and he will be raised in status in the sight of Allah.
THE FOURTH IS THAT ONE SHOULD refrain from cursing any thing among creation. He should cause no harm to any thing, not even to an atom or anything lesser that even atom, because this quality is among the virtues of the good and the truthful, on the principle than one gets a good end of life under the protection of Allah and enjoys elevation to spiritual ranks, by the blessing of Allah. He is saved from degradation and protected from harm and is bestowed Allah's mercy.
THE FIFTH IS THAT ONE SHOULD refrain from praying for any harm to be caused to any person, even if the latter deserves it. You should not retaliate either by tongue or by action but bear it patiently for the sake of Allah and seek no revenge either by word or by action. Surely this trait raises it possessor to high ranks. When one practices this quality, he attains a noble position in this world and in the hereafter, and receives love and affection. His prayers will be accepted and he will derive exhaltation.
THE SIXTH IS THAT ONE SHOULD not have any belief whatsoever on polytheism and in the hypocrisy of those who follow this wrong path. This trait constitutes perfection in following "Sunna'' (practice of the Prophet) to lead him and also close to His pleasure and mercy. This it is an honourable and glorious ingress to Allah the exalted.
THE SEVENTH CHARACTERISTIC IS, that one should refrain from looking at anything of a sinful nature both outwordly and inwardly and restrain the organ of the body from it, because this is an action that accelerates reward to the heart and the organs, in the immediate worldly life, together with what Allah has kept in store in the hereafter. We pray to Allah that He may do all of us the favour of granting the power to act on these lines and thereby take away worldly desires from our hearts.
THE EIGHT CHARACTERISTIC is, that one should avoid putting any burden on any one else whether small or big. On the contrary he should try to lift the burden frem people whether on request or even asked. Surely this effort constitutes the highest of honour among the servants of Allah and emanates from nobility of the men of piety. This also provides strength to a man to adminish people to do good and shun evil.
Such acts reflect the honour and dignity of Allah's servants and of pious men enabling them to enjoy good and shun evil. At this stage, the whole creation would appear to them as in an uniform position. When man so acts in this stage, Allah transforms his heart into a state of needlessness and ensures certainty of and reliance on Allah. Allah does not elevate any one while he is tied up with his worldly desires.
THE NINTH CHARACTERISTIC is that one should be free from want or expectations from men and feel not tempted in his heart to yearn for what is with them. Surely this state connotes needlessness from others besides Allah and deserves glorious pride and also indicates and clear reliance on Allah. It enables one to attain fear of Allah and to rigidly observe his religious practices. It is a sign of complete and exclusive attachment to Allah.
THE TENTH CHARACTERISTIC is humility. This trait elevates the station of the-servant high into eminance in the sight of Allah (glory be to Him) itiad also of the people. He derives powers over what he desires from among the affairs of the world and of the hereafter. This trait is the starting point to perfection of obedience to Allah. It leads one to attain the position of righteous people who are pleased with Allah either if in comfort or even when in difficulties. It is perfection of piety. Humility among the servants of Allah ceases to see any one from among the people; but perceives his own superiority over himself and may be inclined to say "Perhaps this person is better than myself in the sight of Allah and is higher in position." The quality of humility acquired will tend the possessor to refer to the righteous and the learned among men, as those who have obtained what I have not, and they know what I am ignorant of, and they act with knowledge.
When referring to an ignorant man he will say 'oThis man offended Allah in his ignorance whereas I have offended Him in spite of my knowledge and I do not know what sort of end I shall meet and what kind of end he would meet." Referring to such a person who may be an unbeliever, he may say "I do not know whether he will become a Muslim and achieve a good end. Possibly, I will act as an unbeliever and end my life with evil deeds. Humility is the door of affection and Fear and is a trait to be acquired for one to abide with the true servants of Allah. Thus, when the servant of Allah acquires perfection in humility Allah will keep him safe from all calamities and he will attain the position of companionship of Allah, The Mighty, the Glorious,
Moreouer this state of humility constitutes the-gate of mercy with the attainment of which, the, door of pride closes, and the rope of selfconciet is cut asunder. The sense of superiority in his ownself in all matters, religious or mundane gets discarded, This is the very essence of servitude and is a sign-of devotion to Allah.
With the attainment of this stage his tongue should restrict reference to the people of the world and its vanity. He will not otherwise attain perfection Malice, and conciet, and transgression will then vanish from his heart at all times. He will be one and the same person either in secret or in the open,. both in the pursuit of his purposes in all his expressions.
Such a person will not admonish people making evil reference or by focussing an illustration of any person or persons. Nor will he like to hear such reference to any body because this weaknees tends to1 hardship to the devotees and will lead to the ruin of a spiritual life.
THE BEGIN1NG OF SPIRITUAL LIFE is to extricate one's self from natural cravings and urges and to revert to the path of Law, to enter through the door of destiny and progress onward to return to normal urges but yet retaining the spiritual height ascended. So, you should control your urges in matters of food and drink, dress, marital relations, habitation: and tendencies and habits. You should Follow Al-Quran and the Hadith of His Prophet (blessing and peace be upon him); in keeping with what Allah says "And accept what the Prophet has brought to you and refrain from what he forbids you to do," and "Say if you love Allah follow me, Allah will love you.
When you are so conditioned, to purge you of your desires and disobedience both outwardly and inwardly and to annihilate yourself, then there will remain nothing in you inside, excepting the unit of Allah and nothing will exist in you outside excepting obedience and servitude to Allah in what he has commanded and forbidden. Thus one so transformed in. his ways and manners, will use them a kind of garment in all his movements during night and day; when at home or abroad in comfort or discomfort and when ill or well. Whoever fights his ownself and overcome it Allah will revitalise it to resist the temptation of committing sinful acts.
This requirement of man is what the Prophet referred, liken he said "We have returned from a minor Jihad to a Major Jihad." He means this to say that the return was to resort to a struggle with One's ownself to achieve perpetuity and recurrence a struggle against cravings and the self being engrossed in sinful acts
"And serve your Lord till 'certainty' (death) comes to you. Allah has commanded His Prophet
To serve Him. This implies opposition to man's ownself because service is declined by the self, which seeks its opposite. If it be asked how the self of the Prophet of Allah could decline service in that he had no fleshly desires, Allah says "He does not speak from his own desire it is nought but revelation, that is revealed."
When He addressed His Prophet in these words, it was to affirm the applicability of this general condition on his followers. But He, the Mighty, the Glorious, bestowed upon His prophet power over his ownself so that it could not harm nor oblige him to struggle against his ownself. This exclusive power distinguishes him from his followers. So when a believer persists in a spiritual struggle like this till the imminence of death and meets His Lord with a drawn sword besmeared with the blood of his self and his desires. He gives him what He was guaranteed to him in Paradise in keeping with his words "And as for him who fears to stand befere his Lord and forbids the soul from low desires, then surely, the Garden is the abode." He makes it his abode and resting place and place of return making him secure from any transfer to any other place or any return to the worldly abode. He provides him from day to day and from hour to hour all needs of food and drink and dress and ornaments, that can never exhaust.
But as for the unbeliever, the hypocrite and the sinner who do not struggle with their ownselvcs and
Desires in this world but follow the devil to become polluted with the unrepented sins of unbelief and practice of polytheism and so forth till death overtakes to claim them outside the pale of Islam, they will enter the fire, prepared for the unbeliever, as is indicated in His words "Then be on your guard against the fire of which men and the stones are the fuel; it is prepared for the unbeliever." So when He has made them enter it and made it their place of flight, of return and of refuge, it will burn their skins and their flesh. He will give them fresh skin as often as their skins are thoroughly burned, and change them for other skins." He the Mighty, the Glorious, will so punish them because of their unlimited alliance with their ownselvcs and desires in this world to commit sins. The inmates of fire will have their skin and flesh renewed at all times for the chastisement to continue unabated.
The inmates of the Garden on the other hand will have all needs for their comfort and pleasure provided infinitely and adequately. This was Allah's reward awarded for their constant struggle with their ownselves to such a state as to attire them to accord with the will of Allah in relation to this world's life. This is what is meant in the saying of the Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. "This world is the culture ground for the hereafter.
THE TRAVAIL OF SEEKER you must either be one or the other of two things. You are, either a seeker or the object sought for. If you are a seeker or a disciple, you become the carrier of a burden containing difficult and weighty matters. A seeker has to toil hard and is dissatisfied until he attains his object and succeeds in realising his aspired goal.
It would not be beconning of a Seeker to flee from troubles which befall him in the matter of his life and wealth and that of the members of his family and children, until he is relieved of his burden, and the load of his suffering and consequent humiliation are removed for him to become scoure for all evil and illness and sufferings and the needs of people thereto. Then only can he claim to be admitted to the category of people, who are loved by Allah and nourished by Him lavishly and become consequently His subjects.
But if you on the other hand, become instead the object of search the things sought for, then it is your own seeking and you cannot blame Allah should any calamity befall you and you thereby or should by no means entertain doubt with regard to your portion demoted in rank with Him, because He may put you in such a state in order to make yon strive to attain the status of high personages and thereafter to raise your position to the position of Awliya and Abdu.
Do you like your position to be lower than theirs or that your robe of honour and light and the blessing be other than what are theirs? Even if you feel contented of your inferior status, Allah the Mighty, and Glorious will not be pleased it, because He says "And Allah knows and you do not know." He has chosen for you what is more elevated, brighter, higher and better, but you decline strive to have it. Then if you say could it be right that the perfect devotee should have been in a state, which according to your opinion should have' been provided for the lower as well. Remember the favourite one of Allah, is the beloved and true devotee. The Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) was the chief among the beloved but at the same time he was the one who was most tried and tested. The Prophet has said "I have been frightened so much on account of Allah that no one else will have been threatened like me and I have been made to suffer so much on account of Allah that no one else will have been made to suffer equally;
and there have come on me thirty days and nights on which I had not so much of food as could have be hidden under the armpit of Bilal."
He has further said "Surely we Prophets are most severely tried; next to us come those of lower grade and so on". "I am the best in the knowledge of Allah and most afraid of Him among you all. " Now how can the beloved be tried and feel frightened when he is the favourite and perfect devotee? This is so only because the object is to make them attain the ultimate object as already pointed out, of the higher stations above, and because the grades of heavenly life arc not raised except through good deeds in the worldly life.
Worldly life is the cultivation ground of the life hereafter. The good acts of the Prophet and the Awaliyas, after the performing what are commanded and refraining form prohibitions reflect achievement of patience and pleasure and reconcilement as a result of developing this trait. It is at this stage this trait removes away from them and they experience the blessings of Allah and His favour and lavish care till they meet the Lord in eternity.
Be blind to all other avenues and do not open your eyes to anything in those directions, because if you look that way the direction wherefrom emanates the favour of Allah, the Mighty and Glorious will not be made open to you. So shut out vision of all other directions with your realisation of the unity of Allah and with the effacement of yourself. Thus, with your fading away and your own effacement and that of our knowledge, will be opened the penetrating long ranged eyes of your heart, the abode of Allah, the Mighty, the Great and you will see Truth with the two eyes of your heart with its dazzling rays of light brought about by your faith and firm conviction. At this stage there will appear a light from your inside and manifest itself on your outside, in the manner of the light of a lamp, inside a dark house on a dark night streaking its brilliant beams through its orifices and loopholes to illuminate the outside. The self and the body will then feel at ease with this gift of Allah, debarring all gifts of others, besides Him,
YOUR SELF, So have mercy on your self and do not be unjust to it. Do not throw it in the darkness of your ignorance and your foolishness, so as to look towards the direction of created beings and of might, of power, of acquisition and of means, in order to rely on them. For if you do so all avenues will be closed against you and the avenue wherefrom the favour of Allah flows will not be made open to you by the substitution of chastisement and retribution, merited by your act of polytheism in turning towards someone for something else besides Him.
So when you have realised his unity and observed His favour and placed your hopes on Him and none else making yourself blind to the need of assistance from any, excepting Him, He will make you become close and near to Himself and will show His mercy to you. He will nourish you, and provide all for you, nurse you in disease make you comfortable and bestow gifts on you to become opulent, help you even to become a ruler. He will even make you to vanish from creation and from your ownself and also to disappear, so that thereafter, you will see neither your poverty nor your affluence.