The Principles to Which the Attainment of Human Felicity goes back.

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Human Felicity – Sa’āda

 

The Principles to Which the Attainment of Human Felicity goes back.

 

In The Name of Allāh, The Most Merciful, The Especially Merciful

 

There are very many ways of obtaining felicity. However, obtainment of felicity goes back to four qualities (khiṣāl) that the animalistic side takes on when the rational soul (al-nafs al nāṭiqa) dominates it, forcing it to do what is suitable for it.

 

These are the states of man most suitable for the Highest Council (Al-mala’ al-a’lā)[1], and a preparation for becoming associated with them and joining their circle. The prophets were sent to summon and urge humankind on to them, and that the divine laws are an elaboration of this and are based upon these four.

 

1) One of the qualities is purity (ṭahārah).  This is not simply required for the fulfillment of prayers or other forms of worship, but is required in of itself. The Prophetic statement makes it clear that purity is half of faith and the Qu’rān mentions that God loves those who are pure.

 

The true nature of this is that when a person’s original nature is sound, his temperament healthy, and his heart is free from lower states which distract it from contemplation, and then he becomes soiled with impurities or has recently had sexual intercourse; his soul becomes constricted, he is struck by depression and sadness, and he finds himself in great inertness.

 

Therefore, when he unburdens himself by bathing, adorning himself with his finest clothing and perfumes himself, then that constriction is repelled from him and he finds in its place relaxation, happiness, and expansiveness.

 

The first state is called “ritual impurity” (ḥadath) and the second, “purity”.  When a man’s animalistic side becomes somewhat weaker and he continues in a state of purity and devotion to piety, and occupies himself with recognising both of the states, he will inevitably recognise them and be able to distinguish one from the other.

 

Purity is the attribute of the pneuma[2] that most resembles the states of the Highest Council in their detachment from animalistic impurities and their rejoicing in the light which they possess.  Therefore, purity prepares the soul to be clothed in its perfection in accordance with the practical faculty.[3]

 

 

Ritual impurity, when it gains power over him and surrounds him from all sides, causes in him a propensity to receive the whisperings and visions of the devils by means of the sensus communis (ḥiss mushtarik) and in nightmares. It also causes a propensity for the appearance of darkness around him.

 

However, when purity gains power over a person and he becomes surrounded by it, notices it, and relies on it, it will give rise to a propensity for receiving the inspiration of angels, seeing them, having good dreams, the manifestation of lights, the representation of pleasant things, and other splendid and blessed effects.

 

We ask Allāh Almighty to grant us all purity both inwardly and outwardly.

 

2) The second virtue is humbling oneself (ikhbāt) before God, may He be Exalted[4]. This is a state of the heart, whose outward expression manifests itself in the form of having belief (īmān), to follow the law, to perform prayer (Salāh) and the like. However, the true nature of humility is realised when a person of sound temperament and detached (from other concerns) is reminded of the signs and attributes of God, may He be Exalted, and applies himself assiduously in recalling them, the rational soul is alerted and the senses and the body submit to it, becoming faint and disconcerted. An inclination towards the Holy arises, and his state becomes akin to that of common folk in the court of kings, who realise their own insignificance and the overwhelming power of the kings.

 

This is the state of the pneuma nearest and closest in resemblance to the state of the Highest Council in their orientation towards their Creator while they are enraptured in his majesty and engrossed in proclaiming His holiness. Therefore, these states are a preparation for bringing the soul to its intellectual perfection, by which the divine gnosis is imprinted on the tablet of the mind, and it being joined to that Presence in some way.

 

We ask Allāh Almighty to grant us all the ability to recognise and practice the true of nature of humility.

 

3) The third quality is magnanimity (samāḥa) the true nature of which is for the soul not to follow the promptings of the animalistic force. This is also state of the heart, whose outward expression manifests itself in the form of wishing well for others and the like.  The soul of such a person refuses to allow the imprinting of the animalistic force to be etched upon it so that the effect of its pollution do not attach to it.

 

This is because as the (lower) soul becomes preoccupied with the world such as the affair of its livelihood, desiring women, amassing pleasures or wanting to devour food, it strives to obtain them until its need for them is fulfilled. Likewise, when it becomes angered or covetous of something, it will inevitably become engrossed in this mood, with little concern for what lies beyond it. When this mood ends, he will find himself in one of two situations; if the soul is magnanimous, it will emerge from this state as though it had never been there at all. If it is not magnanimous, it will become enmeshed in these moods and take on their contours as the imprints of the sealing ring are assumed by the wax.

 

As a result, when the soul separates from this world, it will unburden itself of the dark accumulated bonds of the world, returning to its original state; and will not find any of those things that opposed the angelic side, while in this world it will achieve intimacy and find a most pleasant existence.

 

In contrast, the one that is not magnanimous will find the darkness of the world attached to his soul and will experience extreme constriction due to its attachment and preoccupation with the world.

 

For example, the impressions of greed are represented in the soul, as you see in the case of the person who has been robbed of a precious possession. If he is magnanimous his mind will not be disturbed, but if he has a weak soul, he will become like a madman and his losses will obsess him and preoccupy his concern.

 

There are many names for magnanimity and its opposite depend on the pertinent conditions. For example, if property is involved these are called “generosity (sakhāwat)” and “miserliness (ṣuḥ)”, and when they concern a motive for transgressing what is forbidden in the divine law they are called “moral conscience (taqwā)” or depravity (fujūr-un)”.

 

The benefit of magnanimity is that the soul remains free from worldly desires and is thus prepared for the higher, transcendent pleasures. Magnanimity is a way of thinking that prevents man from being controlled by all that is contrary to the desired perfection, intellectually or practically[5].

 

We ask Allāh Almighty to grant us all magnanimity in a manner that is only pleasing to Him.

 

4) The fourth quality is justice (‘adāla)[6]. In the divine law (ṣhar’īa), justice is understood to mean ‘placing things in their rightful place’ as opposed to injustice (ḍhulm or jawr) where this is taken to mean  ‘placing things in the wrong place’. Therefore, to fulfill the rights of faith, deeds, character, financial dealings (mu’āmalāt), social responsibility (mu’āsharāt) and so on is known as justice.

 

Justice is a habit (malaka) acquired in the soul which gives rise to those acts through which the order of the city and life is established with ease.  It seems as if the soul is naturally disposed to these acts.

 

What this means is that justice becomes a disposition through habit because this is the natural disposition of angels and the souls divested of bodily attachments[7]. That is why when the soul joins the body, it is not naturally wholly disposed towards justice, but some of this natural disposition nevertheless remains. For example, a person who is of a brave nature will nevertheless find in himself softness when he comforts a child.  A tradition states: The Messenger of God (Peace Be Upon Him) came out during the middle of the day, while holding one of the sons of his daughter in his arms. He was saying: ‘you are what makes them stingy, cowardly and ignorant. And you are but Flower of God (Raihānillāh)’ [8].

 

The natural disposition towards bravery stills remains and is not completely absent. In a similar sense, justice that is merged with the natural disposition remains even after attaching itself to the body, although, it may weaken somewhat.

 

The secret of this is that the angels and the souls divested of bodily attachments  (who are in the circles of the angels such as the souls of prophets and friends of God, may He be Exalted) are imprinted with what God intended in creating the world, in terms of setting right its order, and so on, and thus what pleases them becomes transformed into what is suitable for this order, and this is the true nature of the pure spirit [9].

 

The bliss of justice is experienced once one passes on from this world. When his soul separates from its body while something of this quality persists in it, it is delighted to the fullest extent and finds a means of pleasure distinct from more base pleasures. If it separates (from the body) while the opposite of this trait of injustice is within it, the state is depressing for it and it is estranged and pained. For example, those who established justice with others will be bestowed with a station under the shade of God, while those who pursued injustice will be far removed from the mercy of God.

 

Thus, when God sends a prophet to establish the religion and to “bring people from the darkness into the light” [10] and to make people establish justice; whosoever strives to spread this light and make a path for it among the people will be shown mercy, while he who tries to deflect and extinguish it will be cursed and reviled.  When justice settles in a person, a bond is established between him and the Bearers of the Throne[11] and those near to the circle of angels that are the recipients of generosity and blessings. This becomes an open door between him and them, and a means for the descent of their colors and influences such that the soul is furnished with intuitions from angels and provoked to act according to them. Such is the fruit of establishing justice.

 

Once you have verified the true nature and understood these four qualities and the way they necessitate intellectual and practical perfection, and how they prepare for being interweaved with the angels; and once you have realised the way that the divine laws branch out for them according to (the exigencies) of every age, then you will be given great good [12]and you will become a person of sound judgment (a faqīh) in religion, one of those for whom God intends good[13].  The state composed of these (four qualities) is called the original nature (fiṭra)[14].  These are the causes through which the original nature is fulfilled, some of them are intellectual, and others practical, and there are veils that prevent man from this and schemes for breaking these veils. We wish to alert you to these matters, so listen well to what is related to you, with success granted by God, may He be Exalted; and God knows better.

 

We ask Allāh Almighty to enable us fulfill the rights of justice.

 

Hāroon Ibn Ebrāhim Sīdat.

 

(Taken from Shāh Walī Allāh of Delhi’s Ḥujjāt Allāh al-Bāligha – The Conclusive Argument from God)

 

 


[1] Al-mala’ al-a’lā. The Highest Council or the Highest Host. The term is found in Qur’ān 37:8, 38:69. This group contains both angels and developed human souls, according to Shāh Walī Allāh.

[2] The pneuma (nasama), also called the airy spirit (al-rū al-hawā’i) that arises from the subtle vapors of the elements obtained through digestion.

[3] This practical faculty, along with the intellectual one, distinguishes humans form animals.

[4] The term is found in Qur’ān 11:23, 22:34 and 22:54. The word khabt means ‘a depressed tract of land and khabīt means ‘a person who deems himself humble and lowly’. According to ‘Amr bin Aws, the mukhbitīn are those people who do not wrong others and if somebody wrongs them, they do not seek revenge. Sufyān has observed that they are the people who are contented with Allah’s will and remain agreeable in all circumstances, comfort or trouble and poverty or affluence (Mā’ariful Qur’ān, Volume six, page 271). The religious (har’ī) meaning is the one mentioned above.

[5] In other words, from ignorance and other frivolous pursuits.

[6] ‘adāla expresses the concept of equality.  When an animal has a load placed on one side this is called ‘idl, since this is done to counterbalance the load on the other side. Another equivalent for justice is ināf; which means to take your half (share) when something is being distributed.

[7] Highest Council.

[8] Tirmidhi

[9] Detached from the body.

[10] Qur’ān 14:1,14:5, 57:9, etc.

[11] The highest angels.

[12] This is the wisdom (hikmat) referred to in the Qur’ān “He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. And none will remember except those of understanding.” (2: 269)

[13] The hadith “man arāda allāhu bihi khairan yufaqihuhu” Bukhāri ‘Ilm, 10 Khums 7, I’tiṣam 10.  The meaning of the tradition is that one who has not been given sound judgment i.e., the principles of the religion and how they are connected to branches and sub divisions, has been deprived of goodness. We also come to know the virtue of the Ulamā above everyone else, and the virtue of sound judgment in religion above all other forms of knowledge (Fath al-Bāri).

[14] The word fiṭra henceforth will be used to mean this wisdom (hikmat).

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