Our current and normal way of looking at things is to see things upside down. Where we in our consciousness see blessing we are probably seeing curse. Where we see curse there is blessing. And in no other context is this true as particularly in the pursuit of wealth – and in wealth itself.
The qasida that we sing most frequently “Aheemu wahdee” has really three operative stanzas in terms of instructions and its significance that spontaneously this has become the qasida that we sing most frequently because it really, it is a summary of our Path. In those three stanzas the whole of this endeavour is summed up.
As we’ve understood nafs in our tradition, nafs is your individual identity. The sense that you have that you exist as a discrete, separate being. But the root condition of our individual existence – for all human beings is exactly the same.
Our nafs (self or soul) is the greatest gift from Allah to us, and at the same time our deadliest enemy. Rather it is an amanah that Allah has entrusted us with, so we must honor and appreciate it, but also fight and subdue that aspect of it, which will cause our ruin, if we do not guard ourselves against it. The most cited metaphor for it is that of a wild riding beast, which will try to throw off its rider, as long as it is untamed, but which becomes a trusted companion and support in his quest, if he masters it.
We have two basic modalities that we exist in as human beings. The one modality which is the predominant modality for most people is that they function under the assumption that they exist separately from and somehow contra-distinct to the world. The other modality is that you recognize that you are not separate from the world but that there’s a oneness which connects you with all things.
The odds of annihilation are far more probable than the odds of continuity, of going-on. If one took into account all of the things that could conceivably go wrong, that could kill you, right now, you’re very quickly presented with an almost incalculably vast range of possibilities.
All things that happen, happen with Him, through Him, from Him, to Him – by His Idhn, by His permission. It is not like little parcels of energy are being given out. It is like you are floating in the sea and the sea is Him and all of us are different refractions of that sea and that any power that you have is not your power. All ability to act, all ability to animate, all ability to move is Him.
How is it then that we have an experience of an independent existence because what that suggests is that nothing that happens, nothing is independent of Him. Why do I experience that I have independent power?
The truth of our individual existence is that we don’t exist as individuals. We are constituted by that which is not us. Every human being alive, in fact, you as you sit there right now are a collection of elements and energies and forces that have colluded and collided from various parts of the universe to make who you are now.
Given that man is the only physical creature, as far as we know, to be endowed with an intellect, and has been searching for so long, is it not amazing that he has still not made much headway as to finding the answers to those essential questions?