CHAPTER XIX
THE UNCOVERING OF THE FIFTH VEIL: CONCERNING PRAYER (al-salat)

Etymologically, prayer (namaz) means remembrance (of God) and submissiveness (dhikr u inqiyad), but in the correct usage of lawyers the term is specially applied to the five prayers which God has ordered to be performed at five different times, and which involve certain preliminary conditions, viz.:

(1) purification outwardly from filth and inwardly from lust;
(2) that one's outward garment should be clean and one's inner garment undefiled by anything unlawful;
(3) that the place where one purifies one's self should be outwardly free from contamination and inwardly free from corruptness and sin;
(4) turning towards the qibla, the outward qibla being the Ka'bah and the inward qibla being the Throne of God, by which is meant the mystery of Divine contemplation;
(5) standing outwardly in the state of power (qudrat) and inwardly in the garden of proximity to God (gwbat);
(6) sincere intention to approach unto God;
(7) saying "Allah-o-akbar" in the station of awre and annihilation, and standing in the abode of union, and reciting the Quran distinctly and reverently, and bowing the head with humility, and prostrating one's self with abasement, and making the profession of faith with concentration, and saluting with annihilation of one's attributes.

It is recorded in the Traditions that when the Apostle prayed, there was heard within him a sound like the boiling of a kettle. And when Ali was about to pray, his hair stood on end and he trembled and said: "The hour has come to fulfil a trust which the heavens and the earth were unable to bear."1

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Prayer is a term in which novices find the whole way to God, from beginning to end, and in which their stations (,maqamat) are revealed. Thus, for noviccs, purification takes the place of repentance, and dependence on a spiritual director takes the place of ascertaining the qiblah, and standing in prayer takes the place of self-mortification, and reciting the Quran takes the place of inward meditation (dhikr), and bowing the head takes the place of humility, and prostration takes the place of self-knowledge, and profession of faith takes the place of intimacy (uns), and salutation takes the place of detachment from the world and escape from the bondage of "stations". Hence, when the Apostle became divested of all feelings of delight (masharib) in complete bewilderment, he used to say: "O BilaJ, comfort us by the call to prayer." The Sufi Shaykhs have discusscd this matter and cach of them occupies a position of his own. Some hold that prayer is a means of obtaining "presence" with God (hudur), and others regard it as a means of obtaining "absencc" (ghaybat); some who have been "absent" become "present" in prayer, while others who have been "present" bccome "absent". Similarly, in the next world where God is seen, some who are "absent", when they sec God shall become "present", and vice versa. I,'Ali b.'Uthman al-Jullabi, assert that prayer is a Divine command and is not a means of obtaining either "presence" or "abscnce", becausc a Divine command is not a means to anything. The cause of "presence" is "presence" itself, and the cause of "absence" is "absence" itself. If prayer were the cause or means of "presence", it could be performed only by one who was "present", and if it were the cause of "absencc", one who was "absent" would necessarily become "present" by neglecting to perform it.But inasmuch as it must be performed by all, whether they be "present" or "absent", prayer is sovereign in its essence and independent.

Prayer is mostly performed and prescribed by those who are engaged in self-mortification or who have attained to steadfastness {istiqamat). Thus the Shaykhs order their disciples to perform four hundred bowings in prayer during a day and night, that their bodies maybe habituated to devotion; and the steadfast likewise perform many prayers in thanks giving for the favour which God has bestowed upon them. As regards those who possess "states" (arbab-i ahwaf), their prayers, in the perfection of ecstasy, correspond to the "station" of union, so that through their prayers they become united; or again, when ecstasy is withdrawn,their prayers correspond to the "station" of separation, so that thereby they become separated. The former, who are united in their prayers, pray by day and night and add supererogatory prayers to those which are incumbent on them, but the latter, who are separated, perform no more prayers than they need. The Apostle said: "In prayer lies my delight," because prayer is a source of joy to the steadfast. When the Apostle was brought nigh unto God on the night of the Ascension, and his soul was loosed from the fetters of phenomenal being, and his spirit lost consciousness of all degrees and stations, and his natural powers were annihilated, he said, not of his own will, but inspired by longing: "O God, do not transport me to yonder world of affliction! Do not throw me under the sway of nature and passion!" God answered: "It is My decree that thou shalt return to the world for the sake of establishing the religious law, in order that 1 may give thee there what I have given thee here." When he returned to this world, he used to say as often as he felt a longing for that exalted station: O Bilal, comfort us by the call to prayer!" Thus to him every time of prayer was an Ascension and a new nearness to God. Sahl b. 'Abdullah says: "It is a sign of a man's sincerity that he has an attendant angel who urges him to pray when the hour of prayer is come, and wakes him if he be asleep." This mark (of sincerity) was apparent in Sahl himself, for although he had become palsied in his old age he used to recover the use of his limbs whenever the hour of prayer arrived; and after having performed his prayers he was unable, to move from his place. One of the Shaykhs says: "Four things are necessary to him who prays: annihilation of the lower soul (,nafs), loss of the natural powers, purity of the inmost heart, and perfect contemplation." Annihilation of the lower soul is to be attained only by concentration of thought; loss of the natural powers only by affirmation of the Divine majesty, which involves the destruction of all that is other than God; purity of the inmost heart only by love; and pcrfect contemplation only by purity of the inmost heart. It is related that Husayn b. Mansur (al-Hallaj) used to lay upon himself the obligation of performing four hundred bowings of prayer in a day and a night. On being asked why he took so much trouble in the high degree which he enjoyed, he answered: "Pain and pleasure indicate your feelings, but those whose attributes are annihilated feel no effect either of pleasure or of pain. Beware lest you call remissness maturity and desire of the world search for God." A certain man relates: "I was praying behind Dhu '1- Nun.When he began to pronounce the takbir, he cried 'Allah-o-akbar' and fell in a swoon like a lifeless body." Junayd, after he had grown old, did not omit any item of the litanies (awrad) of his youth. When he was urged to refrain from some of these supererogatory acts of devotion to which his strength was unequal, he replied that he could not abandon at the last those exercises which had been the means of his acquiring spiritual welfare at the first. It is well known that the angels are ceaselessly engaged in worship, because they are spiritual and have no lower soul (nafs). The lower soul deters men from obedience, and the more it is subdued the more easy does the performance of worship become; and when it is entirely annihilated, worship becomes the food and drink of Man, even as it is the food and drink of the angels. 'Abdullah b. Mubarak says: "In my boyhood I remcber seeing a female ascetic who was bitten by a scorpion in forty places while she was praying, but no change of expression was visible in her countenance. When she had finished, I said: 'O mother, why didst not thou fling the scorpion away from thee?' She answered: 'Ignorant boy! dost thou deem it right that while I am engaged in God's business I should attend to my own?"

Abu '1-Khayr Aqta2 had a gangrene in his foot. The physicians declared that his foot must be amputated, but he would not allow this to be done. His disciples said: "Cut it off while he is praying, for at that time he is unconscious." The physicians acted on this advice. When Abu '1-Khayr finished his prayers he found that his foot had been amputated

Some Sufis perform obligatory acts of devotion openly, but conceal those which are supererogatory in order that tbey may escape from ostentation (riya). Anyone (they say) who desires that others should take notice of his religious practices becomes a hypocrite; and if he says that although other people see his devotions he himself is unconscious of them, that too is hypocrisy. Other Sufis, however, exhibit both their obligatory and supererogatory acts of devotion, on the ground that ostentation is unreal and piety real: therefore, it is absurd to hide reality for the sake of unreality, "Do not let any thought of ostentation (they say) enter your heart, and worship God wherever you will." The Shaykhs have observed the true spirit of the rules of devotional practice, and have enjoined their disciples to do the same. One of them says: "I travelled for fortv years, and during that time I did not miss a single public service of prayer, but was in some town every Friday."
The corollaries of prayer belong to the stations of love, of which I will now set forth the principles in full.
Chapter concerning Love and matters connected therewith.

God hath said, "O believers, whosoever among you apostatize from their religion, God will assuredly bring in their stead a people whom He will love and who will love Him" (Qur,v,59); and He hath also said, "Some men take idols beside God and love them as they love God, but the believers love God best" (Qur.ii,160).And the Apostle said: "1 heard Gabriel say that God said, 'Whoever despises any of My friends has declared war against Me, I do not hesitate in anything as I hesitate to seize the soul of My faithful servant who dislikes death and whom I dislike to hurt, but he cannot escape therefrom; and no means whereby My servant seeks My favour is more pleasing to Me than the performance of the obligations which I have laid upon him; and My servant continuously seeks My favour by works of supererogation until I love him, and when I love him I am his hearing and his sight and his hand and his helper."1 And the Apostle also said, "God loves to meet those who love to meet Him, and dislikes to meet those who dislike to meet Him"; and again, "When God loves a man He says to Gabriel, '0 Gabriel, I love such and such a one, so do thou love him'; then Gabriel loves him and says to the dwellers in Heaven, 'God loves such and such a one,' and they love him too; then he bestows on him favour in the earth, so that he is loved by the inhabitants of the earth; and as it happens with regard to love, so does it happen with regard to hate."

Mahabbat (love) is said to be derived from hibbat, which are seeds that fall to the earth in the desert. The name kubb (love) was given to such desert seeds (hibb), because love is the source of life just as seeds are the origin of plants. As, when the seeds are scattered in the desert, they becomc hidden in the earth, and rain falls upon them and the sun shines upon them and cold and heat pass over them, yet they are not corrupted by the changing seasons, but grow up and bear flowers and give fruit, so love, when it takes its dwelling in the heart, is not corrupted by presence or absence, by pleasure or pain, by separation or union. Others say that mahabbat is derived from hubb, meaning "a jar full of stagnant water", because when love is collected in the heart and fills it, there is no room there for any thought except of the beloved, as Shibli says: "Love is called mahabbat because it obliterates (tamhu) from the heart everything except the beloved." Others say that mahabbat is derived from hubb, meaning "the four conjoined pieces of wood on which a water jug is placed, because a lover lightly bears whatever his beloved metes out to him ~ honour or disgrace, pain or pleasure, fair treatment or foul". According to others, mahabbat is derived from habb, the plural of habbat, and habbat is the core of the heart, where love resides. In this case, mahabbat is called by the name of its dwelling place, a principle of which there are numerous examples in Arabic. Others derive it from habab, "bubbles of water and the effervescence thereof in a heavy rainfall," because love is the effervescence of the heart in longing for union with the beloved. As the body subsists through the spirit, so the heart subsists through love, and love subsists through vision of, and union with, the beloved. Others, again, declare that hubb is a name applied to pure love, because the Arabs call the pure white of the human eye habbat al- insan, just as they call the pure black (core) of the heart habbat al-qalb: the latter is the seat of love, the former of vision. Hence the heart and the eye are rivals in love, as the poet says:

"My heart envies mine eye the pleasure of seeing,
And mine eye envies my heart the pleasure of meditating."

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You must know that the term "love (mahabbat) is used by theologians in three significations. Firstly,as meaning restless desire for the object of love, and inclination and passion, in which sense it refers only to created beings and their mutual affection towards one another, but cannot be applied to God, who is exalted far above anything of this sort. Secondly, as meaning God's beneficence and His conferment of special privileges on those whom He chooses and causes to attain the perfection of saintship and peculiarly distinguishes by diverse kinds of His miraculous grace. Thirdly, as meaning praise which God bestows on a man for a good action (thana-yi jamil).4
Some scholastic philosophers say that God's love, which He has made known to us, belongs to those traditional attributes, like His face and His hand and His settling Himself firmly on His throne (istiwa), of which the existence from the standpoint of reason would appear to be impossible if they had not been proclaimed as Divine attributes inthe Quran and the Sunnahh. Therefore we affirm them and believe in them, but suspend our own judgment concerning them. These scholastics mean to deny that the term "love" can be applied to God in all the senses which I have mentioned. I will now explain to you the truth of this matter.

God's love of Man is His good will towards him and  as a veil (between themselves and God) and by regarding the Benefactor are led to (consciousness of) His favours. The latter way is the more exalted of the two.

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Among the Sufi Shaykhs Sumnun al-Muhibb holds a peculiar doctrine concerning love. He asserts that love is the foundation and principle of the way to God, that all "states" and "stations" are stages of love, and that every stage and abode in which the seeker maybe admits of destruction, except the abode of love, which is not destructible in any circumstances so long as the way itself remains in existence. All the other Shaykhs agree with him in this matter, but since the term "love" is current and well known, and they wished the doctrine of Divine love to remain hidden, instead of calling it "love" they gave it the name of "purity" (sajwat), and the lover they called "Sufi"; or they used the word "poverty" {faqr) to denote the renunciation of the lover's personal will in his affirmation of the Beloved's will, and they called the lover "poor" (faqir). I have explained the theory of "purity" and "poverty" in the beginning of this book.

'Amr b." Uthman Makki says in the Kitab-i Mahabbats that God created the souls (dilha) seven thousand years before the bodies and kept them in the station of proximity (qurb), and that he created the spirits (janha) seven thousand years before the souls and kept them in the degree of intimacy (uns), and that he created the hearts (sirrha) seven thousand years before the spirits and kept them in the degree of union {wasi), and revealed the epiphany of His beauty to the heart three hundred and sixty times every day and bestowed on it three hundred and sixty looks of grace, and He caused the spirits to hear the word of love and manifested three hundred and sixty exquisite favours of intimacy to the soul, so that they all surveyed the phenomenal universe and saw nothing more precious than themselves and were filled with vanity and pride. Therefore God subjected them to probation: He imprisoned the heart in the spirit and the spirit in the soul and the soul in the body; then He mingled reason ('aql) with them, and sent prophets and gave commands; then each of them began to seek its original station. God ordered them to pray. The body betook itself to prayer, the soul attained to love, the spirit arrived at proximity to God, and the heart found rest in union with Him. The explanation of love is not love, because love is a feeling (hal), and feelings arc never mere words (qal). If the whole world wished to attract love, they could not; and if they made the utmost efforts to repel it, they could not. Love is a Divine gift, not anything that can be acquired.

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Concerning excessive love ('ishq) there is much controversy among the Shaykhs. Some Sufis hold that excessive love towards God is allowable, but that it does not proceed from God. Such love, they say, is the attribute of one who is debarred from his beloved, and Man is debarred from God, but God is not debarred from Man; therefore Man may love God excessively, but the term is not applicable to God. Others, again, take the view that God cannot be the object of Man's excessive love, because such love involves a passing beyond limits, whereas God is not limited. The moderns assert that excessive love, in this world and the next, is properly applied only to the desire of attaining the essence, and inasmuch as the essence of God is not attainable, the term ('ishq) is not rightly used in reference to Man's love towards God, although the terms "love" (mahabbat) and "pure love" (safwat) are correct.

They say, moreover, that while love (mahabbat) maybe produced by hearing, excessive love (lishq) cannot possibly arise without actual vision: therefore it cannot be felt towards God, who is not seen in this world. The essence of God is not attainable or perceptible, that Man should be able to feel excessive love towards Him: but Man feels love (mahabbat) towards God, because God, through His attributes and actions, is a gracious benefactor to His friends. Since Jacob was absorbed in love (mahabbat) for Joseph, from whom he was separated, his eyes beeame bright and clear as soon as he smelt Joseph's shirt; but since Zulaykha was ready to die on account of her excessive love (ishq) for Joseph, her eyes were not opened until she was united with him. It has also been said that excessive love is applicable to God, on the ground that neither God nor excessive love has any opposite.

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I will now mention a few of the innumerable indications which the Sufi Shaykhs have given as to the tme nature of love. Master Abu '1-Qasim Qushayri says: "Love is the effacement of the lover's attributes and the establishment of the Beloved's essence," i.e.since the Beloved is subsistent (baqi) and the lover is annihilated (fani) the jealousy of love requires that the lover should make the subsistence of the Beloved absolute by negating himself, and he cannot negate his own attributes except by affirming the essence of the Beloved.

No lover can stand by his own attributes, for in that case he would not need the Beloved's beauty; but when he knows that his life depends on the Beloved's beauty, he necessarily seeks to annihilate his own attributes, which veil him from his Beloved; and thus in love for his Friend he becomes an enemy to himself. It is well known that the last words of Husayn b. Mansur (al-Hallaj) on the scaffold were Hash al-wajid ifrad al-wahid, "Tt is enough for the lover that he should make the One single," i.e. that his existence should be cleared away from the path of love and that the dominion of his lower soul should be utterly destroyed. Abu Yazid Bistami says: "Love consists in regarding your own much as little and your Beloved's little as much." This is how God Himself deals with His servants, for He calls "little" that which He has given to them in this world (Qur.iv,79), but calls their praise of Him "much' - "the men and women who praise God much" (Qur.xxxiii,35) - in order that all His creatures may know that He is the real Beloved, because nothing is little that God bestows on Man, and all is little that Man offers to God.

Sahl b. 'Abdullah aLTustari says: "Love consists in embracing acts of obedience (mu'anaqat al- ta'at) and in avoiding acts of disobedience," because a man performs the command of his beloved more easily in proportion to the strength of love in his heart. This is a refutation of those heretics who declare that a man may attain to such a degree of love that obedience is no longer required of him, a doctrine which is sheer heresy. It is impossible that any person, while his understanding is sound, should be relieved of his religious obligations, because the law of Muhammad will never be abrogated, and if one such person maybe thus relieved why not all? The case of persons overcome with rapture (maghhtb) and idiots (ma'tuh) is different. It is possible, however, that God in His love should bring a man to such a degree that it costs him no trouble to perform his religious duties, because the more one loves Him who gives the command the less trouble will he have in executing it. When the Apostle abandoned himself entirely to devotion both by day and night, so that his blessed feet became swollen, God said: "We have not sent down the Quran to thee in order that thou shouldst be miserable" (Qur.xx,l). And it is also possible that one should be relieved of the consciousness of performing the Divine commands, as the Apostle said: His having mercy on him. Love is one of the names of His will (iradah), like "satisfaction", "anger", "mercy", etc., and His will is an eternal attribute whereby He wills His actions. In short, God's love towards Man consists in showing much favour to him, and giving him a recompense in this world and the next, and making him secure from punishment and keeping him safe from sin, and bestowing on him lofty "states" and exalted "stations" and causing him to turn his thoughts away from all that is other than God. When God peculiarly distinguishes anyone in this way,that specialization of His will is called love. This is the doctrine of Harith Muhasibi and Junayd and a large number of the Sufi Shaykhs as well as of the lawyers belonging to both the sects; and most of the Sunni scholastics hold the same opinion. As regards their assertion that Divine love is "praise given to a man for a good action" (thana-yi jamil bar banda), God's praise is His word (kalam), which is uncreated; and as regards their assertion that Divine love means "beneficence". His beneficience consists in His actions. Hence the different views are substantially in close relation to each other.
Man's love towards God is a quality which manifests itself in the heart of the pious believer, in the form of veneration and magnification, so that he seeks to satisfy his Beloved and becomes impatient and restless in his desire for vision of Him, and cannot rest with anyone except Him, and grows familiar with the remembrance (dhikr) of Him, and abjures the remembrance of eveiything besides. Repose becomes unlawful to him and rest flees from him. He is cut off from all habits and associations, and renounces sensual passion and turns towards the court of love and submits to the law of love and knows God by His attributes of perfection. It is impossible that Man's love of God should be similar in kind to the love of His creatures towards one another, for the former is desire to comprehend

and attain the beloved object, while the latter is a property of bodies. The lovers of God are those who devote themselves to death in nearness to Him, not those who seek His nature (kavfiyyat), because the seeker stands by himself, but he who devotes himself to death (<mustahlik) stands by his Beloved; and the truest lovers are they who would fain die thus, and are overpowered, because a phenomenal being has no means of approaching the Eternal save through the omnipotence of the Eternal. He who knows what is real love feels no more difficulties, and all his doubts depart. Love, then, is of two kinds - (1) the love of like towards like, which is a desire instigated by the lower soul and which seeks the essence (dhat) of the beloved object by means of sexual intercourse; (2) the love of one who is unlike the object of his love and who seeks to become intimately attached to an attribute of that object, e.g. hearing without speech or seeing without eye. And believers who love God are of two kinds — (1) those who regard the favour and beneficence of God towards them, and are led by that regard to love the Benefactor; (2) those who are so enraptured by love that they reckon all favours "Verily, a veil is drawn over my heart, and 1 ask forgiveness of God seventy times daily," i.e. he asked to be forgiven for his actions, because he was not regarding himself and his actions, that he should be pleased with his obedience, but was paying regard to the majesty of God's command and was thinking that his actions were not worthy of God's acceptance. Sumnun Muhibb says: "The lovers of God have borne away the glory of this world and the next, for the Prophet said, A man is with the object of his love."1 Therefore they are with God in both worlds, and. those who are with God can do no wrong. The glory of this world is God's being with them, and the glory of the next world is their being with God. Yahya b. Mu'adh al-Razi says: "Real love is neither diminished by unkindness nor increased by kindness and bounty," because in love both

kindness and unkindness are causes, and the cause of a thing is rcduccd to nothing when the thing itself actually exists. A lover delights in the affliction that his beloved makes him suffer, and having love he regards kindness and unkindness with the same indifference. The story is well known how Shibli was supposed to be insane and was confined in a madhouse. Some persons came to visit him. "Who are you?" he asked. They answered: "The friends," whereupon he pelted them with stones and put them to flight. Then he said: "Had you been my friends, you would not have fled from my affliction."

1 Here the author cites a description given by Ilatim al-Asamm of his manner of praying.
2 Nafahat. No.259.
3 Here follows a story, already related in the notice of Abu Bakr (p.70), concerning the different manner in which Abu Bakr and 'Umar recited the Qoran when they performed their prayers.
4 Cf. Qushayri (Cairo. J318A.H.), 170, 14 sqq.
5 "The Book of Love."
 

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