The following is the simplified translation of a letter written as an answer to a university student by ‘Abdulhakim-i Arwasi (quddisa sirruh) when he was the senior professor of Tasawwuf at the Madrasat al-mutahassisin, the Faculty of Theology, which was located in the Sultan Salim Mosque in Istanbul during the declining years of the Ottoman Empire.
Go out of the area of the Omnipotence of Allahu ta’ala with all your strength, if you can! But you cannot. Outside this universe is the place of nonexistence. And this place of nonexistence is also under His Omnipotence!
On an occasion, somebody asked [the great wali] Ibrahim ibn Adham (quddisa sirruh) for advice. He said:
If you accept six things, nothing you do will harm you. These six things are:
1) When you intend to commit a sin, do not eat the food He gives! Does it befit you to eat His food and to disobey Him?
2) When you want to rebel against Him, go out of His Domain! Does it befit you to be in His Domain and to be in rebellion against Him?
3) When you want to disobey Him, do not sin where He sees you! Sin where He does not see you! It simply is unbecoming to he in His Domain, to eat His food and then to sin where He sees you!
4) When the Angel of Death comes to take away your soul, ask him to wait till you repent! You cannot turn that angel back! Repent before he comes, while you have the chance at this very hour, for the Angel of Death comes unexpectedly!
5) When the two angels Munkar and Nakir come to question you in the grave, turn them back! Do not let them test you! ”
It is impossible,” said the person who asked for his advice.
Shaikh Ibrahim said, “Then prepare your answers now!”
6) On the Day of Resurrection, when Allahu ta’ala declares: “Sinners, go to Hell!” say that you will not!
The person said, “Nobody will listen to me,” and then repented; he did not disavow his sense of penitence up until death. There is a Divine Effect in the words of Awliya.
Ibrahim ibn Adham (quddisa sirruh) was asked, “Allahu ta’ala declares: ‘O My human creatures! Ask Me! I will accept, I will give! Nonetheless, we ask but He does not give?” Hadrat Ibrahim said:
“You entreat Allahu ta’ala, but you do not obey Him. You know His Prophet (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), but you do not follow him. You read the Qur’an al-karim, but you do not follow the way it prescribes. You utilize Allahu ta’ala’s blessings, but you do not thank Him. You know that Paradise is for those who worship, but you do not make preparations for it. You know that He has created Hell for the disobedient, but you do not fear it. You see what happened to your fathers and grandfathers, but you do not take a warning. You do not see your own defects, and you search for defects in others. Such people must be thankful, since it does not rain stones on them, since they do not sink into the earth, and since it does not rain fire from the sky! What else could they want?” Would not this suffice as a recompense for their prayers?”
[Allahu ta’ala declares in the sixtieth ayat of Mumin Sura, “Make dua to Me, I accept (ask for, I give)”. There are five conditions for the dua being acceptable. The one who makes dua, must be Muslim; should have Ahl-as sunnat belief; should not commit haram; particularly abstaining from eating and drinking haram things; should make fards; should perform five times of namaz; should fast during Ramadan; should give zakat; should know and adhere himself to the causes of what he wants from Allahu ta’ala. Allahu ta’ala creates everything through a certain means. When asked for a certain thing, He sends the cause of that thing and makes that thing effective. Man adheres himself to this cause and obtains that thing. For the sake of His Awliya, apart from His usual means, when they make dua or when dua is made for sake of Awliya, the things wished are given directly to those as (Karamat) without adhering to any cause.]
As you have not come from nonexistence to this world of existence by yourself, so you cannot go there by yourself. The eyes with which you see, the ears with which you hear, the organs with which you perceive, the intellect with which you think, the hands and feet you use, all the roads you will pass, all the places you will go, in short, all the members and systems connected with your body and soul, all of them, are Allahu ta’ala’s possessions and creatures. You cannot misappropriate anything from Him! He is Hayy and Qayyum, that is, He sees, knows and hears, and He for every moment keeps in existence everything that exists. Even for a moment, He is not unaware of the state of all and controlling all. He does not let anybody steal His property. He is never incapable of punishing those who disobey His commands. It would not make any difference, if, for instance, He had not created any human beings on this globe, as He had not on the moon, on Mars or on other planets; His greatness would not have diminished for this reason.
A hadith qudsi states: “If [every one of] your ancestors and descendants, the young and the old, the alive and the dead, human beings and genies, were like My Most Devoted, Most Obedient Human Creature (‘alaihi ‘s-salam), My Greatness would not be increased. Conversely, if you all were like My enemy, who opposes Me and despises My Prophets, My Greatness would never decrease. Allahu ta’ala is free from needing you; He needs none of you. As for you, in order that you might exist and keep on existing and in everything you do, you always need Him.”
He sends light and heat by means of the sun. He makes waves of light reflect from the moon. Out of black soil, He creates many vivid-colored, sweet-scented flowers and beautiful appearances. From a breeze, He pours out the breath which gives relief to hearts. From the stars that are a distance of many years, He makes it rain haloes on the earth, out of which you came about and under which you will be buried in the end. Through many a vibration, He creates effectivity in particles. [On the one hand, by turning dirt, which you dislike and are disgusted with, into soil by means of His smallest, most trifling creatures (germs), He turns this soil, which you tread on, into a white-of-egg-like substance, protein, the constructive matter of your body, from the factory of plants. On the other hand, by combining the water in the earth with a suffocating gas in air, again in the factory of plants and by stocking in them the energy which He sends from the sky, He creates starchy and sugary substances and oils, the sources of energy that will operate the machine of your body.] Thus, in plants, which He causes to grow in fields and deserts, on mountains and in rills and in animals that He enables to live on the earth and under the seas, He prepares food which will go into your stomach and nourish you. By placing chemistry laboratories in your lungs. He isolates the poison from your blood and puts useful oxygen in its place. By implanting physics laboratories in your brain, the information coming from your organs of perception through your nerves are taken there and, as He has placed a magnetic power into the stone of iron, so with the effect of intelligence, which He has placed into your brain with other immaterial powers, He can put into your heart various plans, commands and actions that are prepared simultaneously. By making your heart work through very complex mechanisms, which you consider very extraordinary, He makes rivers of blood flow in your blood vessels. He weaves many a dumbfounded net of roads through your nerves. He conceals stocks in your muscles. With many, many other phenomena. He equips and completes your body. He establishes and fits all of these in an order and harmony to which you give such names as laws of physics, chemical reactions or biological events. He places centers of power inside you. He projects the necessary precautions into your soul and consciousness. He also, gifts a treasure called the intellect, a gauge named reason, a means named thought, and a key which you call will. In order that you might use each of these correctly, He gives you sweet and bitter warnings, hints, inclinations and ambitions. And as a greater blessing, He openly sends instructions through faithful and dependable Prophets (‘alaihimu ‘s-salam). In conclusion, operating the machine of your body and instructing you with its experiments, He hands it over to you so that you may use and utilize it in objective affairs. He does all of these not because He needs you, your will or help, but to make you happy by giving you a distinguished position and authority among, His creatures. If, instead of leaving it to your hands, your feet and all of your limbs that you can use as you wish, He used them without you knowing it, like the beating of your heart, the expansion of your lungs and the circulation of your blood, if He rolled you by force, with reflex actions, with paralyzed hands and feet, if each of your actions was a vibration and every movement was a twitch, could you claim to possess yourself and the things He has lent you? If He made you move under the influence of external and internal powers, like the lifeless, or unreasonable and unconscious powers of animals, and if He put in your mouth, like pack animals, a morsel of the blessings -which you take in large amounts to your houses now- could you take and eat that morsel?
Do you think of your state before and when you were born? Where were you, in what were you, during the creation of this globe on which you live, eat and drink, go about, amuse and divert yourself, discover the means that are remedies for your diseases, and the means to protect yourself from the attacks of wild and poisonous animals and enemies? Where were you while the stones and soil of this globe were being baked on fires in the ovens of creation and while its water and air were being distilled in the chemistry laboratories of the Omnipotence? Have you ever thought? Where were you while the lands, which you claim to be yours today, were gliding away from the seas, while mountains, rivers, plateaus and hills were being laid down? Where and how were you while, by means of Allahu ta’ala’s Omnipotence, the salty waters of seas evaporated and formed clouds in the sky, and while rains, falling from those clouds, took substances [for nourishment prepared by lightning and waves of power and energy in the sky] into the motes of burnt, dried soil, and while these substances, stirred [by the influence from rays of height and heat], vibrated and nourished the cells of life?
Today, they say that you are of monkey descent, and you believe it. When they say that Allahu ta’ala has created you, enables you to live, causes you to die and that He alone makes everything, you don’t want to believe.
O man! What are you? What were you in the veins of your father? At one time, in the veins of your father, whom you insult with such terms as imbecile, old-fashioned and retrogressive, you used to make him feel uncomfortable. Who made you move then, and why did you disturb him? If he had wished, he could have thrown you into a rubbish-heap, but he did not. He hid you like a deposit. While he was so kind as to have entrusted you to a chaste woman, where you would be nourished unsparingly and struggled to protect you for a long time, why do you insult your father by holding him responsible for your inconveniences, instead of expressing thanks to him and your Creator for the blessings you have been given? Moreover, why do you throw your deposit into rubbish-heaps dirtied by everybody?
When people around you follow your wishes and desires, you believe that you are doing everything by creating with your intellect, knowledge, science, power, strength and by inventing all accomplishments. You forget about the task which Allahu ta’ala has assigned to you; you have resigned from that high official duty and have attempted to claim ownership of the deposit. You want to regard and introduce yourself as an owner and ruler.
On the other hand, when those around you do not follow your desires, when external forces seem to overcome you, you can see within yourself nothing but regret and frustration, incapacity and despair. Then you claim that you own no will or option, that you are under the slavery of everything, that you are like a machine, automatic but with a broken spring. You understand qadar not as al-‘ilm al-mutaqaddim (eternal knowledge) but as al-jabr al-mutahakkim (despotic compulsion). While saying this, you are not unaware of the fact that your mouth is not like a record-player.
When your favorite meals do not come to your table, you hold out your hand and tongue and eat the dry bread you can reach, though you are free to eat or not and die of hunger; the dry morsels are not crammed into your mouth by force! You eat, but also think that you are deprived of doing under your control, and it has not been due to involuntary movements. But, though you possess your self- control even at such times as this when you have to, you deem yourself compelled, enslaved, in short, a nothing against exterior forces.
O man! Which of these are you? You claim to be ‘all’ when you thrive and when success and victory are with you, and ‘nothing’ under the forces of fate when affairs turn out bad or contrary to your wishes. Are you ‘all’ or are you ‘nothing’?
O mankind! O man who is floating on deficiency and eccentricity! You are neither ‘all’ nor ‘nothing’! At any rate, you are something in between these two. Yes, you are far from being inventive, dominant and victorious over everything. But, you have an irrefutable freedom and option and a wish and choice rendering you authoritative. Each of you is an official, undertaking individual and collective duties under the command of Allahu ta’ala, who is the Unequalled Authority, Absolute and Unconditional Owner without a partner! You can do your duties under the rules and regulations established by Him, within the limits of your ranks assigned by Him, within the responsibilities and means which He has created and entrusted to you as deposits. He alone is the Sole Commander, the Unique Ruler and the Single Owner. There is no other commander besides Him, nor a ruler resembling Him, nor an owner-partner with Him. Unless the aims and purposes which you lay claim to and rush upon so zealously, the struggles which you set about, the glories which you take pride in and your accomplishments are for Him, they are all false, vain. Then, why do you accept lies within your hearts and turn off into polytheism? Why don’t you obey the commands of Allahu ta’ala, the Unequalled Ruler, and know Him as the Creator? Instead you run after thousands of imaginary idols and get drowned in distress? Whatever you run towards, isn’t it an ideal, an option or a belief that drags you on? Why do you look for that ideal in someone other than Allahu ta’ala? Why don’t you direct that belief to Allahu ta’ala and spend your alternatives in this belief and in the deeds which are the results of this belief?
When you know Allahu ta’ala as the Absolute Ruler and work without violating His regulations and laws, how much better you will love one another and be attached brothers! What won’t the Mercy of Allahu ta’ala create from this brotherhood? Every favor you gain is the result of this brotherhood produced by a belief in Allahu ta’ala, His Mercy and Benevolence. Every problem or calamity you experience is the result of the fury, resentment and hostility which you are filled with as a retribution for not paying attention to Allahu ta’ala, for cruelty and injustice. And this is also the result of attempting to make laws by yourselves and by following others who want to compete with Allahu ta’ala, in short, of not believing only in Allahu ta’ala with a real belief in His Unity.
In short, the chief cause of the problems among humanity is the crime of polytheism committed against Allahu ta’ala. The obscurity of corruption that has surrounded the horizons of humanity, despite the improvements in knowledge and science, is the result of polytheism, disbelief, lack of belief in Allahu ta’ala’s Unity and lack of mutual love. However hard human beings will try, they will not escape sufferings and disasters unless they love one another. And, unless they know Allahu ta’ala, unless they love Him, unless they regard Him as the Absolute Ruler and worship Him, men cannot love one another. Whatever might be thought of besides Allahu ta’ala and the way of Allahu ta’ala, all of them are ways leading to disunity and wretchedness. Don’t you see that those who attend the mosque love one another and those who haunt the tavern fight?
Whatever you give your heart to, or to whomever you worship besides Allahu ta’ala, each of them can be opposed and equated. And all of them are under the Omnipotence and Will of Allahu ta’ala. He is the Single Ruler who does not have a partner, match, like, opposite or equivalent, and He alone is the one whose equivalent is non-valid and false, a nonexistent equivalent, the existence of which is impossible.
Whatever you follow, worship, love or regard as the absolute ruler besides Allahu ta’ala, be it known that it will burn together with you.
Markaz-i da’ira-i iflas wa bi nawai
Sar shar-i sahhay-i khodgami wa na ashinai
As-Sayyid Abdulhakim Arwasi