Twenty-second Discourse from Futuh al-Ghaib
On the testing of the believer’s faith
The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment) said:
Allah is always testing His believing servant in proportion to his faith. Thus if a person’s faith is very great and steadily increasing, his trial will be great as well. The trial of a Messenger is greater than that of a Prophet, because his faith is greater. The trial of a Prophet is greater than that of a Badal, and the trial of a Badal is greater than that of a Wali. Each is tried according to his faith and certitude, on the basis of this saying of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace): “We, the Community of Prophets, are the people most severely tried, then others according to the perfection of their faith.”
Allah (Exalted is He) subjects these honorable masters to incessant testing, so they will always stay in His presence and never relax their vigilance, for He loves them. They are the people of love, who love the Lord of Truth, and the lover never likes to be far from his beloved. Affliction serves as a clamp for their hearts and a noose for their selfish natures, checking their tendency to drift away from their true goal and to place their confidence and trust in others instead of their Creator.
As this becomes a permanent condition for them, their passions melt, their selves are broken, and truth is distinguished from falsehood. Then cravings, willful desires, and the appetite for pleasure and comfort in this world and the hereafter, all retract toward the sphere of the self, while toward the sphere of the heart come trust in the promise of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), cheerful acceptance of His decree, satisfaction with His gifts, patient endurance of His trials, and the feeling of safety from the evil of His creatures. Thus the power of the heart is strengthened, and it acquires control over all the limbs and organs of the body. Tribulation fortifies the heart and certitude, verifies faith and patience, and weakens the self and the passions, because whenever suffering comes, and what it meets with in the believer is patience, cheerful acceptance, and surrender to the action of the Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), the Exalted Lord is pleased with him and thanks him. Then he also receives help, additional blessings and success. Allah (Exalted is He) has said:
If you are thankful, I will give you more. (14:7)
When the self is moved to apply to the heart [qalb] for satisfaction of some carnal appetite or indulgence in some pleasure, and the heart agrees to this request without authorization and permission from Allah (Exalted is He), the result is disregard for the Lord of Truth, polytheism and sinful rebellion. Allah (Exalted is He) will therefore condemn them both to disappointment, trouble, subjection to other people, sickness and disease, injury and disorder. Both the heart and the self will get a share of this.
If the heart will not give the self what it wants, however, until it receives permission from the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) through inspiration [ilham] in the case of Saints, or explicit revelation [wahy] in the case of Envoys and Prophets (blessing and peace be upon them) and acts accordingly in giving or withholding, then Allah rewards them both with mercy and blessing, well-being and contentment, light and wisdom, nearness to Himself, affluence, security from disasters and help against enemies.
This you must know and remember it well! Be ready for trouble if you rush to respond to the self and to passion! Far better to pause in such cases, and await the Lord’s consent (Glorious is His Majesty), so that you may remain safe in this world and the hereafter, if Allah (Exalted is He) so will.
‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (K.S.)
Source: Futuh al-Ghaib (Revelations of the Unseen)