Is there a most direct and safest way to God?
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
There are many ways leading to Almighty God; all of these true ways have
been derived from the Qur�an, but some of them are safer, and more
comprehensive and lead to the destination more directly than others. The
way I have derived from the Qur�an by my own defective understanding, depends
upon a man�s perception and confession of his helplessness and poverty
before God�s Might and Riches, and upon affection and reflection.
Man�s perception and confession of his helplessness is a way as sure as
the way of love of God, or even safer than that, since it elevates a man so
as to be loved by God on account of sincere devotion to Him. Man�s
perception and confession of his poverty or inadequacy leads to the Divine
Name, the All-Merciful, Affection is more effective than love and leads to
the Name, the All-Compassionate. Reflection is more bright and comprehensive
than love and leads to the Name, the All-Wise.
This way of ours is unlike some Sufi Orders which have conceived ten
steps to purify and sharpen ten outer and inner senses or faculties of man,
and whose members prefer silent recitation of God�s Names. It is equally
unlike others which have adopted public recitation and seek to enable man to
purify himself from all the defects contained in the seven stations of the
Our way consists of four steps, and, rather than being a tariqa, it is
Shari�a, or the truth itself. The fundamental principles of this way consist
in following the Sunna, performing the religious obligations, avoiding the
heinous, major sins, and in performing the five prayers properly, and in
reciting litanies of praise to God after every prayer.
- The first step of this way finds its expression in the verse,
justify and hold yourselves as sinless.
- The second step is indicated by the verse,
Be not as those who forget God
and so He caused them to forget their own selves.
- The third step is pointed to by the verse,
Whatever good visits you is
from God, whatever evil befalls you is from yourself.
- The final step is shown by the verse,
All things perish except His Face
and His good pleasure.
The following is a brief explanation of these four steps:
The first step
Man must never regard himself as infallible, and sinless, since he loves
himself first on account of his commanding self, thus he will sacrifice
anything to satisfy it. He praises himself as though he were a god, and
holds himself to be free from every defect. He endeavors to prove himself
free from guilt and defends himself with so much insistence that you would
think him full of self-love. Further-more, he exploits the faculties
entrusted to him for giving praise and thanks to God, to the glorification
of his own self, and thus becomes referent of the verse, who takes as his
god his own desires and fancies. He praises himself, relies upon himself,
and admires himself. A man can purify himself in this step only by regarding
himself as fallible, liable, even susceptible, to error.
The second step
As the verse, Be not as those who forgot God (and so He caused them to
forget their own selves teaches, man is oblivious of himself, and is not
aware of himself. He will never want to remember death, although he will
always consider others to be mortal. He holds back at the time of bearing
hard-ships and rendering services, but considers he should be the first to
receive the reward at the time of collecting fruits. A man can purify
himself at this step by discharging his responsibilities, and being prepared
for death, and by forgetting any reward he might obtain.
The third step
As the verse, Whatever good visits you is from God, whatever evil befalls
you is from yourself teaches, the evil-commanding soul always ascribes good
to himself and feels conceited, whereas in reality he should perceive his
defects and insufficiency and give thanks to God and praise Him for whatever
good he is able to do. According to the meaning of the verse, Prosperous is
he who purifies it, his purification at this step is possible by knowing his
perfection to lie in confession of his imperfection, his power in
perception of his helplessness, and his wealth in acceptance of his
essential poverty and inadequacy.
The fourth step
As the verse, All things perish except His �Face� and His good pleasure
teaches, man under the influence of his evil-commanding soul considers
himself to be completely free and existent in his own right. Furthermore, he
goes so far as to claim divinity for himself and rebels against his Creator,
Who alone deserves to be worshipped. He can save himself from this perilous
situation only by perceiving the truth that everything is, with respect to
its own self, essentially non-existent, contingent, ephemeral and mortal,
and that only on account of being a mirror reflecting the Names of the
Majestic Maker and responsible with various duties is man existent,
experiencing and experienced.
Man can purify himself in this stage by perceiving that his existence
lies in confession of his essential non-existence. He must know that when
he considers himself to be self-existent, he falls into the darkest pit of
non-existence. In other words, if he relies upon his personal existence,
ignoring the Real Creator, then his ephemeral, firefly personal existence
becomes drowned in the infinite darkness of non-existence. If, on the
contrary, he abandons pride and egoism, and recognizes that he is nothing
but a mirror in which the Real Creator manifests Himself, then he attains to
infinite existence. Thus, because he has discovered the Necessary Being, the
manifestations of Whose Names cause all things to come into existence, he is
counted to have found everything.
This way is the method of affection and reflection, and the individual�s
recognition of his own incompetence and insufficiency.
This way leads to its objective rapidly since it is the easiest and most
direct way, and consists of four stages only. A man�s recognition of his
incompetence leads him to rely upon God alone, once he has succeeded in
freeing himself from the influence of his commanding self. Love, which is
regarded as the quickest route, can lead to the true Beloved only after it
is freed from the false ephemeral be-loved.
This method is safer than other ways, since instead of leading a man to
utter boastful words, and make false claims, it obliges him to recognize his
incompetence and to ascribe all his defects to him-self.
This way is a main �highway�, much broader and more universal. For, in
order to attain to a constant awareness of God�s presence, it requires
neither the denial nor the ignoring of the actual existence of the
universe, as is demanded by those who believe in the �Unity of Being� (Wahdat
al-Wujud) or �Unity of the Witnessed� (Wahdat al-Shuhud). Instead, it admits
the actual existence of the universe as proclaimed in the Qur�an, by
ascribing it directly to the Majestic Creator. It considers all things as
mirrors in which manifestations of the Divine Names are reflected, and does
not consider the creation as self-existent and self-perpetuating but as
manifestations of His Names and accordingly de-voted to His service. It
saves man from heedlessness to make him always aware of God�s presence by
opening up a way to Him through everything.
In short: This way considers beings as neither existent nor working on
their own behalf, rather, beings function, according to this way, as signs
and officials of God, the All-Mighty.