A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|a thief in your chamber|
|10/01/02 at 23:50:26|
As he overcomes his passions and impulses, the servant gains the strength to be present in prayer and occupied with his Lord. But as long as his heart is dominated by passions and captive to desires, and the Devil finds a home there, where he is in control, how can the servant be free of distractions?
Hearts in fact are of three types. The first is the one devoid of faith and devoid of all good. With such a benighted heart, the Devil relaxes his whisperings, for he has already taken residence in this heart, a territory for him to rule as he pleases - in complete control.
The second type is the heart illqminated by faith. Lamps are lit therein, but the shadows of passions and impulses remain. In this heart, the Devil sometimes finds welcome, sometimes rejection; but it is a territory he yearns for. The war waxes and wanes. People of this kind vary greatly: among some the Devil usually wins; among others he is usually defeated; among others still he sometimes wins and sometimes loses.
The third type is the heart brimming with faith, illumined by its light, the heart [of one] from whom the veils of passion have been lifted and shadows dispelled - so light shines forth in his breast. In that kindled glow, distractions are burnt up when they approach. This heart is like the firmament protected by stars: when a devil approaches, a meteor is cast down and he is burnt up. Surely no heaven is more sacrosanct than the believer. God protects him even more than He does the heavens. For while the heavens are the temple of angels, the repository of revelation, the place where the lights of obedience shine forth, the believer's heart is the repository of tawheed, the love of God and gnosis. It is where the lights of faith shine on. It deserves to be guarded and protected from the plots of the Foe, who will obtain nothing of it save through deceit and in moments of negligence.
These three types have been likened to three chambers: the chamber of the king, which contains his treasures, supplies and jewels; the chamber of the servant, which contains his treasures and supplies, but none of the jewels or supplies of the king; and a chamber which is completely empty. If a thief came to rob any of these three chambers, which one would he choose? If you said the empty room, it would be absurd, for what is there to take? Ibn `Abbas was once told, 'The Jews claim nothing distracts their prayer.' To this he answered, 'What does the Devil have to do with a heart in ruins?'
But it would be equally absurd if you said that he will rob the chamber of the king, there being so many guards around it that a thief cannot even get near. How could he, when the king himself is guarding it? How could he approach it with all the guards and soldiers surrounding it? Therefore, nothing is left for the thief to rob except the other room, and that is the one he attacks.
Let the wise man ponder this analogy, and let it sink into his heart, for this is the way of the three hearts. The heart of the non-believer or the hypocrite, a heart devoid of all good, is the Devil's home. The Devil marks it for himself, claims it as his territory, takes residence and dwells in it. What is there for him to steal, when it already contains his stock and supplies, his doubts, deceits and whisperings?
And what devil dare approach a heart filled with the majesty of God Almighty, with reverence, love, vigilance, and modesty? If he would steal something from it, what would it be? His only hope is to snatch something surreptiously from the servant. And that time is inevitable - the servant is but a human being, subject to laws which govern men; he will brook neglect, forgetfulness, confusion and compulsion.
It is related that Wahb ibn Munabbih affirmed that in one of the sacred books God says, 'I do not dwell in rooms which are not vast enough for Me, and what thing could be fast enough for Me, when my Footstool contains [all] the heavens? But I am in the heart of the one who has bid farewell to and left behind all else but Me.' This has the same meaning as the saying, 'My heavens and My earth do not contain Me, but the heart of My believing servant contains Me.'
In every heart there are oneness [tawheed], gnosis, faith, and affirmation of God's promise and warning. There are also the desires of the ego, it's traits and the attraction of base desires and nature. So the heart lies between two calls. Sometimes it inclines towards the call of faith, good, the love of God, and the desire for Him alone; sometimes it inclines towards the call of the Devil, base desires and animal nature. This is the heart which gives hope to the Devil, where he pitches his camp and resides. And God gives victory to whomsoever He will, 'And there is no victory except from God, the Mighty and Wise'.
The Devil has no control over this heart except through the weapons [he finds] there: passions, doubtful practices, delusions, and false hopes. So he enters, finds his weapons, takes them and uses them for battle. If the servant has his forces of faith at the ready, they will rise to his defense, multiply and defeat the devils. If not, the territory goes to the enemy, 'and there is neither strength nor power save in God.' When the servant allows his Foe to enter and opens the door, lets him in and arms him with the very weapons with which he will fight him, then he has none to blame but himself.
Blame yourself alone, not your mount.
And die in vain, for you have no excuse.
[i]from The Invocation of God by Ibn al-Qayyim, trans. M. A. Fitzgerald, pp30-33[/i]
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