Are You Consumed, Contained, or Compassionate? Learn From Futuh al-Ghayb
When encountering the glitter and magnetic force of the material world, whether while strolling in the malls or shopping online, or unintentionally while in spaces conducive to social comparison, even religious people display a wide variety of reactions. Our scholars of tazkiyah (spiritual purification) have long called us to capitalize on these reactions, by using them as gauges for identifying for ourselves the station we likely occupy in the sight of God.
Below is a beautifully nuanced reflection on this from Futūḥ al-Ghayb (#72) by Shaykh ‘AbdulQadir al-Jilāni (d. 561H, may Allah bestow mercy on him), which I pray has been translated effectively enough to serve you some introspective benefit.
“People of religiosity and devotion who enter the markets on route to fulfilling what Allah (the Most High) has instructed – whether it be Friday or congregational prayers – or simply tending to their living needs, are of various types:
Ø Among them is the person whom, upon entering the market and seeing its attractions and temptations, becomes captivated by them and his heart clings to them. Consequently, this becomes the reason for his doom, the abandonment of his religiosity and devotion, and his regression into heeding his fancies and vain desires. Of course, this is unless Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) rescues him by His mercy, and grants him the protection and perseverance necessary to resist and survive them.
Ø Among them is the person whom, upon seeing all that, is nearly destroyed but quickly returns to his senses and religious commitment, and forces himself to be patient and endure the bitterness of refusing to indulge. This person is like the mujāhid (combatant); Allah (the Most High) grants him victory against himself, his lower-tendencies, and his vain desires – and writes for him a massive reward in the hereafter.
Just as some reports mention that the Prophet ﷺ said, “It is written for a believer, in exchange for resisting his lust when he could not perform it, or when he is capable of it, seventy good deeds,” or something to that effect.
- The person who reaches for it — indulges in it — and enjoys it as part of Allah’s bounty which He lawfully enjoys – such as abundant possessions and wealth – and he thanks Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) for this favor.
- The person who neither sees it nor realizes its presence. He is blind to everything but Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) and does not see other than Him. He is deaf to everyone else and cannot listen to others. He is too busy to recognize or desire other than His beloved. He is totally isolated from what the rest of the world sees; when he enters the market and you ask him what saw in there, he will say I did not see anything. He saw everything, just with the eyesight of his head not the insight of his heart, and just inadvertently not cravingly, and just outwardly not with as something with intrinsic value. In other words, he externally perceives what exists in the market, while with his heart he perceives his Lord (the Mighty and Majestic) – a moment at His glory and a moment at His beauty.
- The person whom, upon entering the market, his heart fills with Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) out of mercy for them (those entranced by materialism). His sympathy for them distracts him from admiring what they have and what sits in front of them. From the moment he enters until the moment he exits, he is busied with du‘ā’ (supplication) and istighfār (seeking forgiveness) and shafā‘ah (intercession) for its people and remains filled with concern and sympathy for them. This here is the true scholar, guide, ambassador (of the Prophet), and genius. May Allah be pleased with those who managed to reach the[se] highest stations.