WHAT THE SEEKER NEEDS - 8

By Muhiyy ad-Din Ibn 'Arabi

Fear Allah both in your actions and deep in - your heart and thoughts. Fear of Allah is the fear of Allah's punishment. Whoever truly fears the warnings of torment of the Absolute Judge cannot but act in accordance with the pleasure of the Creator and seek the right over the wrong. The Owner of the Final Word Himself said:

...and Allah cautions you against His retribution.... (Al-Imran, 27)

... and know that Allah knows what is in your minds, so beware of Him.... (Baqarah, 235)

The fear of Allah is a protection, the thing that guards you from harm. Allah's protection is the strongest of all armor, of all fortifications; no harm can penetrate it. That is what divine fear secures for you. The Prophet of Allah, whom He sent as His mercy upon the universe, himself took refuge in his lord. Praying to Him, he said, "I take refuge in Your pleasure, in Your beauty, in Your gentleness, from Your wrath and Your strength. I take refuge in Your divine mercy and compassion, from your punishment. I take refuge in You from You."

Seek, learn about, and imitate K beneficent acts of your Creator that manifest all around you. Protect yourself against divine wrath with acts and deeds in accordance with Allah's pleasure. Whatever act, whatever thing, whatever path is under the shadow of doubt and fear, do not come close to it. Leave it. Know that knowing your Creator and obeying Him is the only path that will lead you to peace and felicity. Revolt and selfishness are a dead end. Only by gaining the divine consent can you save yourself from your Lord's wrath. Only be entering the straight path can you get out of the abyss of that dead end; only by actions proper to paradise can you keep away from the fire. Allah says:

Fear Allah... and fear the Fire. (Al 'Imran, 130-31)

With the fear of Allah, rise away from fire and towards felicity.

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While you persist in sinning and stubbornly refuse to see your errors, why are you so proud that Allah treats you with patience, kindness, and generosity in spite of your sins? Is it that you are fooled by what the devil whispers in your ear, saying, "If it weren't for your sins and your revolt, how would Allah manifest His infinite mercy, compassion, and generosity?" Don't you see how irrational that evil teaching is? Would it be less merciful and beneficent for the Owner of Infinite Wisdom to prevent His servant from opposing His will and pleasure?

Then the devil may whisper in your ear again: "You have no hope of attaining the level of benevolence of those who are born with good character and obedience. They have come to this world and shown their obedience to the will of Allah, gathered their Lord's mercy and beneficence in this world, and left it. The real mercy, generosity, and kindness of Allah will be manifest in the Hereafter on the Day of Judgment, Men He judges His disobedient servants who need of His mercy."

Only someone who has lost his senses could believe in and be deceived by such thoughts. Protect yourself against such temptations and tell your devil: "What you say about Allah's infinite patience and generosity towards His servants is true. Indeed, if there were no revolt, disobedience, and sin, we would not see the manifestation of His divine attributes. So many examples are related to us in the holy books and statements. But you, evil one, are using the truth for your own purposes - so that Allah's mercy be manifest, you encourage me to sin! You are trying to make me revolt because Allah is patient and kind.

"You ask me to test Allah's mercy and beneficence. How do you know, O accursed one, that I am of those who will be forgiven? Indeed Allah forgives whom He wills and punishes injustice whom He wills. How do I know to which party I belong? All I know is that I am full of sin. And just as I was left in this world without the ability to repent and ask His forgiveness, He may well refuse me His mercy before I enter hell and punish me with the fire. Although one dies as one lives, and sin is the messenger of disbelief, if I am fortunate and give my last breath as a believer, then He will purify me in hellfire and take me out and give me peace in His mercy.

"If I knew for sure that there were no day of reckoning with my sins, that there were no punishment, and if I were certain that I would receive divine absolution, I might have considered your twisted reasoning. Even then, it would be no better than admitting foolishness, for it is certainly an unforgivable behavior for a servant to test the patience of his Lord.

"On the other hand, even if I were certain that I would receive divine punishment, the proper thing for me would be shame and thankfulness for His delaying His punishment and spending of all effort of which I am capable in trying to obey the commands of my Lord.

"I have not heard of any good word that all sins will be forgiven. On the contrary, one is left free to choose between the right and the wrong, and the Ultimate Judge is free to forgive or to punish. In your case, though, O evil-commanding ego, there is no choice. You are constant in your wish for the wrong and the forbidden!"

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Part 9