THE UNCOVERING OF THE EIGHTH VEIL: CONCERNING THE PILGRIMAGE (Hajj)
The pilgrimage (Hajj) is binding on every Muslim of sound mind who is able to perform it and has reached manhood. It consists in putting on the pilgrim's garb at the proper place, in standing on 'Arafat, in circumambulating the Ka'bah, and in running between Safah and Marwah. One must not enter the sacred territory without being clad as a pilgrim (be ihram). The sacred territory (Haram) is so called because it contains the Station of Abraham (Maqam- i Ibrahim). Abraham had two stations: the station of his body, namely, Makkah, and the station of his soul, namely, friendship (khullat). Whoever seeks his bodily station must renounce all lusts and pleasures and put on the pilgrim's garb and clothe himself in a winding sheet (kafan) and refrain from hunting lawful game, and keep all his senses under strict control, and be present at Arafat and go thence to Muzdalifah and Mash'ar al-Haram, and pick up stones and circumambulate the Ka'bah and visit Mina and stay there three days and throw stones in the prescribed manner and cut his hair and perform the sacrifice and put on his (ordinary) clothes. But whoever seeks his spiritual station must renounce familiar associations and bid farewell to pleasures and take no thought of other than God (for his looking towards the phenomenal world is interdicted); then he must stand on the 'Aarafat of gnosis (ma'rifat) and from there set out for the Muzdalifah of amity (ulfat) and from there send his heart to circumambulate the temple of Divine purification (tanzih), and throw away the stones of passion and corrupt thoughts in the Mina of faith, and sacrifice his lower soul on the altar of mortification and arrive at the station of friendship (khullat). To enter the bodily station is to be secure from enemies and their swords, but to enter the spiritual station is to. be secure from separation (from God) and its consequences.1
Muhammad b. a 1-Fadl says: "1 wonder at those who seek His temple in this world: why do not they seek contemplation of Him in their hearts? The temple they sometimes attain and sometimes miss, but contemplation they might enjoy always. If they are bound to visit a stone, which is looked at only once a year, surely they are more bound to visit the temple of the heart, where He maybe seen three hundred and sixty times in a day and night. But the mystic's every step is a symbol of the journey to Makkah, and when he reaches the sanctuary he wins a robe of honour for every step." Abu Yazid says: "If anyone's recompense for worshipping God is deferred until tomorrow he has not worshipped God aright today," for the recompense of every moment of worship and mortification is immediate. And Abu Yazid also says: "On my first pilgrimage 1 saw only the temple; the second time, I saw both the temple and the Lord of the temple; and the third time J saw the Lord alone." In short, where mortification is, there is no sanctuary: the sanctuary is where contemplation is. Unless the whole universe is a man's trysting place where he comes nigh unto God and a retired chamber where he enjoys intimacy with God, he is still a stranger to Divine love; but when he has vision the whole universe is his sanctuary.
"The darkest thing in the world is the Beloved's house without the Beloved."
Accordingly, what is truly valuable is not the Ka'bah, but contemplation and annihilation in the abode of friendship, of which things the sight of the Ka'bah is indirectly a cause. But we must recognize that every cause depends on the author of causes (musabhib), from whatever hidden place the providence of God may appear, and whencesoever the desire of the seeker maybe fulfilled. The object of mystics (mardan) in traversing wildernesses and deserts is not the sanctuary itself, for to a lover of God it is unlawful to look upon His sanctuary .No; their object is mortification in a longing that leaves them no rest, and eager dissolution in a love that has no end. A certain man came to Junayd. Junayd asked him whence he came. He replied: "I have been on the pilgrimage." Junayd said: "From the time when you first journeyed from your home have you also journeyed away from all sins?" He said: "No." "Then," said Junayd, "you have made no journey.At every stage where you halted for the night did you traverse a station on the way to God?" He said: "No." "Then," said Junayd, "you have not trodden the road stage by stage. When you put on the pilgrim's garb at the proper place did you discard the attributes of humanity as you cast off your ordinary clothes?" "No." "Then you have not put on the pilgrim's garb. When you stood on Arafat did you stand one instant in contemplation of God?" "No." "Then you have not stood on 'Arafat. When you went to Muzdalifah and achieved your desire did you renounce all sensual desires?" "No." "Then you have not gone to Muzdalifah. When you circumambulated the Temple did you behold the immaterial beauty of God in the abode of purification?" "No." "Then you have not circumambulated the Temple. When you ran between Safah and Marwah did you attain to the rank of purity (safa) and virtue (muruwwat)'?" "No." "Then you have not run. When you came to Mina did all your wishes (munyatha) cease?" "No." "Then you have not yet visited Mina. When you reached the slaughter place and offered sacrificc did you sacrifice the objects of sensual desire?" "No."'"Then you have not sacrificed. When you threw the stones did you throw away whatever sensual thoughts were accompanying you?" "No." "Then you have not yet thrown the stones, and you have not yet performed the pilgrimage. Return and perform the pilgrimage in the manner which I have described in order that you may arrive at the station of Abraham." Fudayl b. 'lyad says: "T saw at Mount Arafat a youth who stood silent with bowed head while all the people were praying aloud, and I asked him why he did not pray like them. He answered that he was in great distress, having lost the spiritual state (waqti) which he formerly enjoyed, and that he could by no means cry aloud unto God. I said: 'Pray, in order that through the blessings of this multitude God may accomplish thy desire.' He was about to lift up his hands and pray, when suddenly he uttered a shriek and died on the spot." Dhu 'l-Nun the Egyptian says: "At Mina 1 saw a young man sitting quietly while the people were engaged in the sacrifices. 1 looked at him to see what he was doing. He cried: 'O God, all the people arc offering sacrifice. T wish to sacrifice my lower soul to Thee; do Thou accept it.' Having spoken, he pointed with his forefinger to his throat and fell dead — may God have mercy on him!"
Pilgrimages, then, are of two kinds: (1) in absence (from God) and (2) in presence (of God). Anyone who is absent from God at Makkah is in the same position as if he were absent from God in his own house, and anyone who is present with God in his own house is in the same position as if he were present with God at Makkah. Pilgrimage is an act of mortification (mujahadah) for the sake of obtaining contemplation (mushahadah), and mortification does not become the direct cause of contemplation, but is only a means to it. Therefore, inasmuch as a means has no further effect on the reality of things, the true object of pilgrimage is not to visit the Ka'bah, but to obtain contemplation of God.
Chapter on Contemplation
The Apostle said: "Make your bellies hungry and your livers thirsty and leave the world alone, that perchance ye may see God with your hearts"; and he also said, "Worship God as though thou sawest Him, for if thou dost not see Him, yet He sees thee." God said to David: "Dost thou know what is knowledge of Me? It is the life of the heart in contemplation of Me." By "contemplation" the Sufis means spiritnal vision of God in public and private, without asking how or in what manner. Abu '1-Abbas b. Ata says in reference to the words of God: "As to those who say, 'Our Lord is God,' and who become steadfast:" (Qur.xli,30), i.e. "they say 'Our Lord is God' in self-mortification and they 'become steadfast' on the carpet of contemplation".
There are really two kinds of contemplation. The former is the result of perfect faith (sihhat-i yaqin), the latter of rapturous love, for in the rapture of love a man attains to such a degree that his whole being is absorbed in the thought of his Beloved and he sees nothing else. Muhammad b. Wasi' says: "I never saw anything without seeing God therein," i.e. through perfect faith. This vision is from God to His creatures. Shibli says: "1 never saw anything except God," i.e. in the rapture of love and the fervour of contemplation. One sees the act with his bodily eye and, as he looks, beholds the Agent with his spiritual eye; another is rapt by love of the Agent from all things else, so that he sees only the Agent. The one method is demonstrative (istidlali), the other is ecstatic (jadhbi). In the former case, a manifest proof is derived from the evidences of God; in the latter case, the seer is enraptured and transported by desire: evidences and verities arc a veil to him, because he who knows a thing docs not reverence aught besides, and he who loves a thing does not regard aught besides, but renounces contention with God and interference with Him in His decrees and His acts. God hath said of the Apostle at the time of his Ascension: "His eyes did not swerve or transgress" (Qur.liii,17), on account of the intensity of his longing for God. When the lover turns his eye away from created things, he will inevitably see the Creator with his heart. God hath said: "Tell the believers to close their eyes" (Qur.xxiv,30). i.e. to close their bodily eyes to lusts and their spiritual eyes to created things. He who is most sincere in self-mortification is most firmly grounded in contemplation for inward contemplation is connected with outward mortification. Sahl b. 'Abdullah of Tustar says: "If anyone shuts his eye to God for a single moment, he will never be rightly guided all his life long," because to regard other than God is to be handed over to other than God, and one who is left at the mercy of other than God is lost. Therefore the life of contemplatives is the time during which they enjoy contemplation (mushahadah): time spent in seeing ocularly (mu'ayanat) they do not reckon as life, for that to them is really death. Thus, when Abu Yazid was asked how old he was, he replied: "Four years." They said: "How can that be?" He answered: "I have been veiled (from God) by this world for seventy years,but I have seen Him during the last four years: the period in which one is veiled does not belong to one's life." Shibli cried in his prayers: "O God, hide Paradise and Hell in Thy unseen places, that Thou mayest be worshipped disinterestedly." One who is forgetful of God nevertheless worships Him, through faith, because human nature has an interest in Paradise; but inasmuch as the heart has no interest in loving God, one who is forgetful of God is debarred from contemplating Him. The Apostle told 'A'isha that he did not see God on the night of the Ascension, but Ibn 'Abbas relates that the Apostle told him that he saw God on that occasion. Accordingly, this remains a matter of controversy: but in saying that he did not see God the Apostle was referring to his bodily eyes whereas in saying the contrary he was referring to his spiritual eye. Since 'A'isha was a formalist and Ibn 'Abbas a spiritualist, the Apostle spoke with each of them according to their insight. Junayd said: "If God should say to me, 'Behold Me,' 1 should reply, 'I will not behold Thee,' because in love the eye is other (than God) and alien: the jealousy of otherness would prevent me from beholding Him. Since in this world 1 was wont to behold Him without the mediation of the eye, how should I use such mediation in the next world?"
"Truly, I envy mine eye the sight of Thee,
And I close mine eye when I look on Thee."
Junayd was asked: "Do you wish to see God?" He said: "No." They asked why. He
answered: "When Moses wished, he did not see Him, and when Muhammad did not
wish, he saw Him." Our wishing is the greatest of the veils that hinder us from
seeing God, because in love the existence of self-will is disobedience, and
disobedience is a veil. When self-will vanishes in this world, contemplation is
attained, and when contemplation is firmly established, there is no difference
between this world and the next. Abu Yazid says: "God has servants who would
apostatize if they were veiled from Him in this world or in the next," i.e. He
sustains them with perpetual contemplation and keeps them alive with the life of
love; and when one who enjoys revelation is deprived of it, he necessarily
becomes an apostate. Dhu '1-Nun says: "One day, when I was journeying in Egypt,
I saw some boys who were throwing stones at a young man. 1 asked them what they
wanted of him. They said: 'He is mad.' I asked how his madness showed itself,
and they told me that he pretended to see God. I turned to the young man and
inquired whether he had really said this. He answered: 'I say that if 1 should
not see God for one moment, I should remain veiled and should
not be obedient towards Him.'" Some Sufis have fallen into the mistake of supposing that spiritual vision and contemplation represent such an idea (surati) of God as is formed in the mind by the imagination either from memory or reflection. This is utter anthropomorphism (tashbih) and manifest error. God is not finite that the imagination should be able to define Him or that the intellect should comprehend His nature. Whatever can be imagined is homogeneous with the intellect, but God is not homogeneous with any genus, although in relation to the Eternal all phenomenal objects — subtle and gross alike ~ are homogeneous with each other notwithstanding their mutual contrariety. Therefore contemplation in this world resembles vision of God in the next world, and since the Companions of the Apostle (ashab) are unanimously agreed that vision is possible hereafter, contemplation is possible here. Those who tell of contemplation either in this or the other world only say that it is possible, not that they have enjoyed or now enjoy it, because contemplation is an attribute of the heart (sirr) and cannot be expressed by the tongue exccpt metaphorically. Hence silence ranks higher than speech, for silence is a sign of contemplation (mushahadah), whereas speech is a sign of ocular testimony (shahadat). Accordingly the Apostle, when he attained proximity to God, said: "I cannot tell Thy praise," because he was in contemplation, and contemplation in the degree of love is perfect unity (yaganagi), and any outward expression in unity is otherness (beganagi). Then he said: "Thou hast praised Thyself," i.e. Thy words are mine, and Thy praise is mine, and I do not deem my tongue capable of expressing what I feel. As the poet says:—
"I desired my beloved, but when I saw him
I was dumbfounded and possessed neither tongue nor
I Here follows lhe storv of Abraham and Nimrod which has occurred before, p.73.